Archive for the Conceptual Art Category

Politics of the Soul

Posted in Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by javedbabar

The figure emerging from the twisted light took shape. Sami said, “Sophie? Is that you? How did you know where to find me?”

“It wasn’t that hard,” she said. “The valley only goes one way – west, and smoke only goes one way – up.”

Sami was hiding in a cabin at the top of the Valley, near Kalash, fifty kilometres from Lucerne. The sudden attention since Guru Baba’s death had been hard for him to handle, and he had decided to hide.

The Valley’s residents had protected him from numerous officials, reporters and stalkers chasing him. It was amazing what some well-placed Firing Range and Blast Area signs could do. There was no longer a need for Sami to dress up in his gorilla suit and chase people through the bush, which also worked. Good job it wasn’t hunting season.

“Would you like some tea? Hang on, I’ll just put the kettle on.” He went into the strange metal cabin; she heard water pouring.

Sophie admired the dark, glinting solar panels affixed to the roof. Sami emerged and joined Sophie on a fallen log, and she asked, “What are you doing out here on your own? People are worried about you.”

“Guru Baba had a lifetime to get used to fame; it was gradual. When he kissed me that day and said, “It is you,” and died, my life changed immediately. I wasn’t ready for it. It seemed that I had no choice, but then I realized I did.”

“Is this your choice then, to stay here, far away from people?”

He reached out and held her hand. “Not all people. Sophie, I’m not sure what my choice is. I can either remain apart from the world, with all its temptations and evil ways, or I can engage with it, and do what little good I can.”

Cottonwoods around them rustled in a burst of wind. Their leaves caused light to dance.

“Who wouldn’t want to stay here?” said Sophie. “It’s so peaceful and beautiful. There’s no pollution, no noise, no crowds, no stress, no expense. Whenever I step out of the door in the village I’ve spent twenty bucks. In the city it’s fifty. Here you are self-sufficient in everything – energy, water, food, and peace is everywhere, not just when you put on your headphones or lock your room.”

They sat in silence, listening to the river gushing, and watched a white mule deer wander on the far shore.

Sami said, “Guru Baba’s last kiss held messages for me, but I may need years to understand them.”

He looked so perturbed; she held his other hand too.

Sami continued, “He told me many things while I was working as his assistant. I didn’t understand them all, but somehow his final kiss brought them together. He said that to build a good society you need good people and dynamic interaction. He said the heart is the body’s strongest generator of electro-magnetism, constantly changing the fields around us. He said that like attracts like, and if we build our ideal selves, we attract, reflect and refract universal matter in powerful ways. He said that psychic self-control is the highest art; to keep your head when all around you others are losing theirs; and he said the psychic realm is both a cosmic ocean and a personal drop.”

Sami’s attention returned to the twisted light running through the valley from Mt Alba, a white sentinel above the village, to Mt Negra, dark guard at its other end. He became quiet.

After a while Sophie said, “Well, there are two drops here. Shall we rejoin the sea together, and be good people building the good society he spoke of?”

Sami continued looking into the twisted light, and said, “Maybe you’re right. You usually are. Guru Baba said that karma is not driven by thoughts but by actions. Give me another week here alone, and then I’ll join you.”

Twisted Light

Posted in Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2012 by javedbabar

There is a strange light in the Lucerne Valley tonight, thought Sami. A twisted light, swirling within and around itself.

It seemed to connect Mt Alba, above the village, with Mt Negra at the valley’s far end, or should he say beginning, for that was the source of lava flows and later, water flows, which over millions of years carved out the Lucerne Valley.

A white cloud gathered around Mt Alba, and a dark cloud around Mt Negra, and they stretched out for a hundred kilometres, twisting around each other like a cosmic candy cane made of marshmallow and licorice.

Maybe such phenomena were usual at this time of year, like the afternoon wind called the Pineapple Express, and the spring and fall floods; all part of nature’s dance.

Since the strange events at the Transparent Temple, Sami felt deluded, denuded and partially destroyed. He was not himself. He couldn’t be. Who was he then?

He needed time – days, weeks, months, who knew? – to accept or reject the situation, to become Guru Baba’s successor or to leave this place for good, but people didn’t give him time.

“Hello, I am an Official from The Authority’s Spiritual Affairs Directorate. We would like to discuss your potential as…”

“Sami, should we now call you Sage Sami? I am reporting for the Holy Herald. Would you please tell our readers about the moment that…”

“Om Shanti, Sami, I come from Guru Baba’s ancestral village with a most humble request. We would be highly pleased if you…”

Right now Sami couldn’t handle his internal dialogue, never mind this external dialogue. He wished everybody would leave him alone. He had jumped at the invitation to use a friend’s cabin at the top of the valley, near Kalash.

The strange light kept glowing and flowing. The cosmic candy cane. At times it looked like a cheerless barber’s pole, or a swirling Slavic bread twist. It also looked like strands of DNA.

Sami’s mind returned to his science class project concerning the nature of light. He had explored light’s basic unit, the photon, and whether its primary nature was that of a particle or a wave. The accepted view was that it was both, and his grade twelve project did not dispute this, but he also looked into two kinds of angular momentum – spin and orbital.

Spin referred to motion like the earth’s spinning around its axis. Orbital referred to motion like the earth’s revolution around the sun. Both could be seen in light.

Sami had asked if these energy forms could be used to transmit information, and discovered that they could. Using MIMO – Multiple Input and Multiple Output – transmission massively boosted data transfer rates. However, his experiments in the school lab were not successful. Instead of twisted light, he had created an optical vortex, where light waves cancelled each other out. That was the opposite of what he wanted to show.

But here, now, before him was the cosmic candy cane, a black and white twist of light, seeming to carry the whole world’s illumination. Was he dancing around it, or was it dancing around him. He watched the twisted light all night, and at dawn, a figure appeared within it and walked towards him.

Was this a trick of the light?

Was this a twist of the light?

Was this a kiss of the light?

Foodback

Posted in Conceptual Art, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2012 by javedbabar

“I love Indian cooking,” said Sophie, “and you love 3D printing…”

“I wouldn’t say love,” said Sami, “maybe like.”

“Okay, I love Indian cooking and you like 3D printing.” She raised her eyebrows, as if saying, okay now? “Do you think that we can combine them in some way? I like my job at village hall, but a job is a job. You have to work the hours required, on the days required, for the salary offered. It seems never ending. It would be great to work for myself.” Sophie looked at him coyly. “To work for ourselves.”

They had hit it off at the opening night of Tao Te Ching at QARY, the old quarry that was now a multimedia venue. Sophie had invited him along. They had held hands, smooched, and then the rest. Now there was regular sex and shopping. Things had moved really quickly but he wasn’t complaining. Sophie was a great girl.

Sami cast his mind back. “I used food colours a few weeks back. It was a 2D job making edible images to paste onto cakes. I had to work hard to retain colour clarity, resist bleeding, and eliminate pathogens. Working with food is a sticky business. I’m not sure it’s the right thing to focus on.”

Sophie’s face dropped, but she rallied her enthusiasm. “My friend Siva makes raw food powders, he calls them flavour flours. He’s trying to patent the process before a big food company does, but he’s a poor hippy from Kalash dealing with Intellectual Property lawyers charging five hundred dollars an hour. I’m not sure he’ll get anywhere. They were really good though.”

“The lawyers?”

“No, the flours. Can we try printing with those? It’s the perfect way to use this technology. We’d be using homemade ingredients for local manufacture. That’s really cutting out the carbon – road miles, air miles, sea miles – do they call them miles at sea, or is it fathoms?”

“I think that’s a depth measurement.”

“Well, what do you think of my idea? Can you fathom it?”

She wasn’t sure if she’d made a good joke. It was silly. He may like it.

Sami said, “Sure, let’s give it a go. Come by after work hours.” He winked and she blushed. “Otherwise I will have to charge you printer time.”

Sophie came the next evening with a selection of flavour flours. They smelled pretty pungent. Sami put them into the 3D printers, loaded a North Indian recipe, and soon produced Mughlai Biryani cubes. They emerged from the build pan, steaming.

Sophie licked her lips and tried one, and said, “Really good, but they need a bit more salt, and some turmeric and cumin.”

Sami adjusted the parameters. He tweaked colour, texture and odour, and then focussed on nutrition. The Mughlai Biryani became better and better, a spicy superfood.

Sophie said, “Instead of feedback, we can call this process foodback.”

“If you’ve got five hundred dollars we can patent that.”

The experimentation continued. They used master chef recipes, then formulas for medical enhancement. Via social media they could share the printer blueprints, flour production process, and test recipes. Changing quantities for families of two, three, four or more members automatically adjusted the recipes and instructions.

Imagine everyone cooking whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, wherever they were. The technological revolution had gone full circle, back to the most basic human need.

That’s how the Foodback TM revolution began.

Voodoo Valley

Posted in Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2012 by javedbabar

Dynamic reflection was a term Sami first heard while making architectural models. It showed the way that little design changes caused related changes elsewhere. For example, a building’s cladding changing from wood to steel would affect its levels of heat and moisture, but also its visual reflectivity and life cycle sustainability. Every change had additional effects beyond the building, affecting the landscape in subtle ways.

“The first time I went to the old quarry, I had a vision,” said Sophie, visiting Sami at the Transfer Station’s 3D Unit. “It was filled with every kind of art. A host of creations poured from the place where Mother Earth was butchered. There was a need for healing.”

“Was that the inspiration for QARY?” asked Sami. Her QARY project, converting the old quarry to a multimedia venue, had been a huge success. Most seasons were sell-outs. He had invited Sophie to visit the lab to find out how she did it. Maybe some of her wisdom could be applied to Guru Baba’s charitable projects, for which he still volunteered.

Sophie said, “Do you know the Gaia Hypothesis? You don’t? It says that the earth is a self-regulating organism whose complex systems work together to maintain the conditions for life. They ensure the biosphere’s wellbeing, encouraging evolution of life forms, but acting against them when they threaten the earth’s habitability.”

“Gaia sounds like a tough mistress,” said Sami.

“So am I,” said Sophie, and then realized what she’d said. She appeared uncomfortable. “I hope that was helpful for you. I’ve got to get back to QARY to boss the crew around. We have a new show starting tomorrow.”

Sami was intrigued by Sophie’s words, particularly the notion of self-regulating systems. They were like human bodies, writ large. If that were the case they must feel both joy and pain, joy being harmonious growth and pain being destructive chaos.

Sami had an idea. He fed a map of Lucerne into the 3D printer. He fabricated a quick model which turned out pretty well. Why not model the whole valley in sections? As well as its physical aspects, he could symbolically include its spiritual aspects.

He categorized Mt Alba, the white peak above the village, and Mt Negra, the dark peak at the far end of the valley, as dynamic poles. He fed in cultural information. He didn’t know how to factor in a supreme god, but was able to include subservient spirits, responsible for various aspects of life. He scoured folk tales for forest elves, river sprites, cloud goblins, raindwarves, lightning giants, hillpixies, field witches, and cave ghosts. Their changing personalities would reflect many possibilities.

Was he tired, or was the model changing? It seemed to be shifting subtly. Trees walked, rivers changed course, clouds danced and darkened, rain stopped and started, lightning gathered and cracked, hills rolled around like bugs beneath skin, fields grew crops that were mystically reaped, and caves moaned and howled.

Were these effects extending beyond the model? Sami became scared. He deactivated the electromagnetic charges of Mt Alba and Mt Negra. Without these dual energies, providing light and shadow play, the spirits settled down.

There was now homeostasis, a stable state. Inertia. More fiddling with the earth would create imbalance and re-energize the spirits. There would then be the need for elaborate ceremonies and cure-all spells. The spirits would need soothing, and their price may be high.

Tiny Houses

Posted in Conceptual Art, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2012 by javedbabar

There was a huge earthquake in India and lakhs – hundreds of thousands – were homeless. Reading the report upset Sami. People were begging for clean water, food and shelter, and with the monsoon approaching they were likely to be washed out.

One of Guru Baba’s projects was disaster relief. Though Sami was now working as the 3D Unit’s manager rather than Guru Baba’s assistant, he was still on the books as a volunteer. He received a call at lunchtime.

“Hello Sami. My name is Raja. We haven’t met, but Guru Baba asked me to call you. I am his new assistant. He said you could help us with disaster relief.”

Sami put down his NFC sandwich. Whoever thought of putting fried chicken between bread was a genius. Northern Fried Chicken was so good, and to think that his previous girlfriend had wanted him to share her vegan raw food diet. No way, chook!

“Yes, of course. What can I do for you?”

“I am not sure really. Guru Baba wondered how your trials were going with large-format 3D printers. He said you were looking at modular construction systems.”

Ah! Thought Sami. He’s on the ball, still. Always thinking ahead and beyond. “I haven’t made much progress yet. There’s been a rush of prototyping projects this summer for fall production and Christmas sale. I may have time next week to continue trials.”

Sami knew people were in trouble. He wasn’t saying he couldn’t do anything, he was saying he couldn’t do anything right now. “Are you suggesting we make stuff here and ship it over? That would be really expensive, and take a month or more.”

“Hang on, let me ask him. I’ll call you back.”

He called again in five minutes. “Guru Baba says he doesn’t want production, he only wants prototyping. He wants you to provide low-tech blueprints for the printer and perform experiments on efficient material usage. Find the cheapest materials and stretch them. Can you please look into that?”

Sami said, “Okay, I’ll take a look. I’ll report back soon.”

The large format 3D printer appeared complex, but beyond the CPU, it was simple mechanically. It was just a machine layering materials and leaving gaps, paralleling the way that nature built landscapes, creating them with volcanoes and floods and fine-tuning with wind and rivers.

Sami wondered if nature, or the 3D printer, could rebuild lives.

Jamz poked his head in at four pm. He was unofficial leader of the rag pickers working the trash after school. “Hello Sami, I just thought I’d say hi!”

Sami wasn’t in the mood for chat. “Sorry Jamz, I have an urgent task now. No time to talk.”

“Can I help you with it?”

“I don’t think so. It’s for disaster relief in India. I need to think it through.”

“That’s the problem with adults. They want to think about things rather than do them immediately. Why don’t you tell me what you need and I’ll help you.”

Sami was surprised by his manner but said okay. He explained the task.

Jamz said, “It’s simple really. Make flexible blueprints so people can use whatever materials are available – metal, plastic or wood – for the structure. Leave the CPU to the kids. They’re savvy with technology and have smaller hands. They’ll do a much better job than adults. They can be actors, rather than burdens, in regenerating their own lives.”

They spent the evening making architectural models of simple structures. It was a practical, open ended way to explore ideas. They studied volumes and appearances, and toyed with components, calculations, and dynamic reflections.

“Let’s follow the way of the bee,” said Jamz. He devised a honeycombed wall structure allowing one cubic metre of cement to create a room with an internal volume of thirty cubic metres, enough for a family to survive. They modelled a room which could be shown by NGOs to government agencies for fundraising, obtaining permits, even sales.

Cement is just crushed rock and lime. It could provide the interface between virtual and real worlds, those of disasters on the news and providing comfort for the afflicted.

With 3D printers, it was simply a case of pushing a button and sending plans, which could be translated into action.

Feedback Loop

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Conceptual Art, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2012 by javedbabar

The mayor seemed angry and not in a good way. There were times when his ire was productive, like when he stood up for local citizens, local issues and local foods. Lucerne’s citizens admired him then. That’s why they had elected him thrice, despite his style of politics being known as B&B: Bullying and Boring.

“Just coming,” said Sami, opening the door to the 3D Unit at the Transfer Station. He had seen the mayor’s truck pull in, and the way he had stalked towards the container and banged the door. He was angry about something.

“Those models you made for me, they’re not the same. They’re all different!”

How could they all be different? Sami wondered. He hadn’t checked every one as it came off the printer, but he had checked each batch. The mayor was accurately depicted, looking handsome and strong.

Sami said, “I’m not sure what you mean. I thought they turned out okay.”

“Look!” said the mayor, handing him a pair of small blue busts. Sami examined them carefully. The colour was consistent, so was their size and texture. The shape was the same.

Upon close examination, he realized it was true. They were different. Not in a dramatic way, but a series of small differences accumulated, creating a big difference. Thick hair became wiry, bright eyes became beady, a slim nose became thin, and the strong jawline became clunky. All in all he became a different person, not the one people were voting for.

“I am really sorry about that,” said Sami. “Can you please leave these with me today, and I‘ll look into the matter?”

“Well, you’d better hurry. Today is Monday and the election is next Monday. I need to get them all out by the weekend.”

When the mayor left, Sami tested the printer. It was fine mechanically but he noticed a quirk in information transfer. There seemed to be an extra factor, a hidden one, causing replication variations.   Sami had produced them in ten batches of a hundred. He needed to examine some more models, so called the mayor and asked him to bring one from each box. He checked and then rescanned each sample bust.

He detected qualitative and quantitative components. There was confirmation, correction, explanation, diagnostics, and elaboration of information involved. He detected gaps between actual and reference levels of system parameters, and dynamic data exchanges. He realized there was a feedback loop, a chain of cause and effect.

Sami analysed the mayor’s nose, which had gradually become thinner. This shouldn’t happen with digital reproduction, where every replication is exact. There was evidence of informational feedback, dependent on the context of the gap. Like the mayor’s nostrils, or his vote margins, there was widening or narrowing.

Sami examined the mayor’s jawline, which had become clunkier during the production run. He found traces of motivational feedback, dependent upon the context of action. The mayor used words as awards or weapons, and they were returned in kind. There was a tense dance of reward and punishment.

“So?” the mayor said that afternoon on the phone. “Are you making some other ones?”

“I don’t think they’ll turn out any different. The 3D Unit is a self-regulating system, and recognizes the local democracy process as its analogue counterpart. Your features are affected by your behaviour. It is modelling this over time.”

Know Thyself

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2012 by javedbabar

“Guru Baba! What are you doing here?” Sami was surprised to see his old boss, who had been away on pilgrimage for weeks. During his absence, Sami was told by officials that he had been repurposed  to manage Lucerne’s 3D Unit, and he’d had no choice but to leave his position as the sage’s assistant. He enjoyed his new job but felt bad about leaving Guru Baba, who was like the grandfather he’d never known.

“Can’t I come to see how my assistant – sorry, my ex-assistant – is getting on in the big, wide world?”

Sami had started this new job almost immediately. He had tried to wrap up as many projects as possible before leaving, but there was only so much he could do in two days. He hadn’t been able to find a successor so the projects lay abandoned. Because of Sami, assistance to widows, orphans, disabled people, and disaster victims was being delayed. He said, “Guru Baba, I am so sorry about…”

“Don’t be sorry about anything! Ha-ha! I know you were forced to go. Who would willingly leave the divine embrace of the great Guru Baba?”

He puffed his chest out, stood straighter, stroked his long black beard, and then shook his saffron robes with laughter. Sami shared the joke.

“Can I make you some tea, Guru Baba?”

“No! No tea! It makes me pee!”

That wasn’t one of his best mantras, thought Sami, but okay, no tea.

“Sami, you know I love tea. Have you ever heard me refuse it before?”

Sami pondered, with fingers stroking chin. “Come to think of it, I haven’t.”

“So why am I doing so now? Solve the mystery.”

“You only drink hard liquor now!”

“Ha! Good one! Go on, try again.”

“You have realized it is cruel to cut up plants and boil them to death.”

Guru Baba looked down for a moment. “You have a point there too, but no.”

“You now only drink invisible tea that only really clever people enjoy. Here, have a cup.” He handed him an empty mug.

“No! Your three questions are up. The reason is that I don’t want to interrupt the scan by going to pee.”

“What scan?” Sami’s eyes opened like flashbulbs. “You want a scan?”

“Yes, make a model of me, life size.”

“Life size? It will have to be done in sections. I only have mid-range equipment here. The high power model is at AMP Co. Do you know what happened there?” Guru Baba nodded, indicating he knew about its possession by the Authority as a National Strategic Asset. “It will take an hour for scanning and a week for production.”

“That’s why I don’t want tea. You know an hour is a very long time at my age. Let’s get started.”

While his lower half was being scanned, Guru Baba said, “You know, when you leave here, you should focus on this. Personal scans. You will make a lot of money. People want models of themselves. They spend their whole lives trying to shape their outer world to be like their inner world. They want to manifest themselves, substantially. This could really change things. If a copy of them exists out there already, they can stop trying to change the world, and start appreciating it instead.”

A week later when Guru Baba saw his model, he looked at himself sternly and said, “Know thyself.” Then he giggled and said, “Pleased to meet you.”