Episode Three – Some Valuable Resources

Episode 2: Engaging With the Art of Dreaming

The Calling- Intro

The Development of an Interdisciplinary Curriculum in the Time-Based Arts

In the development of a visual arts practice, the integration of aspects from variable systems of thought may be beneficial. For example, in seeking to develop an art practice centered on the use of watercoloring and the various techniques and theoretical aspects drawn upon in that art form, it could be very useful to expand the field of related art forms upon which to inform a prototypical art practice. In this way, contrasting modalities can be made into a hybrid art practice vehicle. To clarify this example, picking from among vast fields of artistic methodologies coupled with the visual criticalities involved among them, or their more traditional cultural, philosophic, or spiritual valuations, we could select on one hand the techniques and ways of seeing  found in the Western Medieval system of visual art, or more particularly, methods of visualization seen in the illuminated manuscripts of gothic artists, along with techniques employed. We could integrate this with a painting style such as that found in the far East– say the Japanese Sumi-e style. Notwithstanding the real-world challenges of this type of integration, the use of simultaneous multiple perspectives along with a hand and eye technique of energetic brushwork bordering on abstract symbolism, could alone transport the artist into entirely new territories. To this, add another layer of conceptualism– a systematic infusion of principles, elements of art, and ways of seeing from each of these styles, one into the other, and vice versa.

     In the time-based arts, a similar but somewhat more expanded approach could be employed. Drawing deliberately upon limitless fields of possibility, the interplay of musical elements and principles in conjunction with corollary components found in visual art, can provide powerful frameworks upon which to build new hybrids of artistic vision and concept. Theoretically, this hybrid could be enfolded within a philosophic approach chosen by the artist. Thus, we provide the artist with a way of clearly and deliberately establishing a foundation upon which to build, and wherein the artist can place a unique worldview. In the use of this approach, knowledge of visual criticalities which can reach far and wide assumes value, as does the emergence of a similar criticality which does not exclude the sonic and/or musical arts. In this way, we embark indisputably upon the creation of new knowledge, while developing a way of balancing criticality with artistic subjectivity across disciplines, wherein it could be argued that the power of the artworks to be developed live and breathe.

Matter and Mind (2014)


“The more we know, the more knowledge we can accept.” – George Kubler

In my early efforts to draw upon knowledge outside of my own limited experiences in order to obtain an understanding of the way that the mind works, I was drawn along esoteric lines. This was largely due to the way that I always tended to pursue less travelled paths as an avid reader, not only while growing up but still today. I much preferred the novelty of Eastern mysticism over the Catholicism and Western mythology prescribed to me at home and at school while a teenager. I preferred more of an open-ended way of understanding things, and on an intuitive level, I found science and math classes much too restrictive, though I have and still do maintain an appreciation for the possibilities they have allowed and still allow for. I especially appreciate mathematics in an aesthetic sense. My efforts in music have helped to maintain this appreciation for the ways that geometries and numbers can themselves generate fantastic abstract patterns and structures. Additionally religious dogma and reiterations of mythology, along with what I saw as very politically biased and repetitive material presented to me in the numerous schools I attended while growing up made me restless and unsatisfied. Having also read hundreds of science fiction novels by the time I finished high school, my interest in science quickly gave way to the arts, which served my active imagination much better. In my quietest moments, I found myself thinking that it would make more sense for nothing at all to exist than for the vast complexity of the universe to have appeared as if by magic, not to mention the worlds within worlds of society and nature on planet Earth which I found myself waking up into every morning after long nights of vivid dreams, nightmares, and what at the time I could only identify as visitations.

Perhaps there is some truth to the connection between neurophysiology and belief in the paranormal as approached by neurologist Peter Brugger and psychologist Christine Mohr, who address paranormal beliefs largely on the notion that “normal” experiences such as coincidences are being misinterpreted (Brugger, 1293). This may have something to do with the intricacies of brain functionality. After all, when Einstein’s brain was analyzed shortly after his death, it was determined that a part of his brain called the parietal operculum was not present, resulting in a 15 percent larger inferior parietal lobule. Neurologists associate this part of the brain with visuospatial cognition, mathematical reasoning, and imagery of movement (Bristol, 236). Certainly various parts of the brain are seen to be directly connected with bodily functions, such as the occipital lobe for vision, the temporal lobe for hearing, and the frontal lobe for motor activity (Gardner, 292), yet as one who operates outside of the restrictions of science, I am free to consider a somewhat different view of the brain, albeit one which does not oppose science. While there is value in understanding functionality of the brain in a material and energetic sense as scientists do, another conception of the brain worth consideration to me is that the brain itself is an expression of consciousness, not a substratum of consciousness or a producer of it. This does not negate the value of science, especially with regard to the way that artworks function in relation to our brain-minds, these after all share aspects of the physical world in a phenomenological sense. While it may be that there is a correlation between brain structure and ways that events are interpreted in the world, there are theories outside of mainstream science which assert that physical structure is not primary, but an expression of deeper, larger and subtler processes which are not physical in nature, but energetic and informatic (Laszlo, 45). A tenet seen within many so-called schools of metaphysics postulates, “so above, so below,” which is the same as saying “so within, so without.” Metaphysical theories favor a model of the universe which is an expression of consciousness, and where thought itself is a creative force, acting directly upon aspects of realities that we do not consciously perceive, but which ultimately form what we regard as physical reality– that which is “below” and “without.”.

This concept of mind alters conceptions of what thought is, but more importantly what  it does, which is to mold reality. In other words, under this conception we are creative beings, and a single thought is a creative act which may or may not occur on a conscious level (Buhlman, 120). This has implications far beyond the research I intend to pursue as a scholar, but it is germane to the question at hand, since for my research I intend to incorporate aspects of theoretical metaphysics perhaps better identified as para-scientific research. There are more subtle structural elements of human anatomy which according to para-scientific literature can now be measured by means of emergent technologies (Dale, 240).

One of the fascinating things about the mind and the senses, especially with regard to notions of the physical and the non-physical, is the idea of boundaries between these. In his new book The Self-Actualizing Cosmos, systems scientist and two time Nobel Peace prize nominee Ervin Laszlo points out that in the Fall of 2012, a new state of matter was discovered, called the “Fractional Quantum Hall” state, which Laszlo says underscores the concept that everything we experience as matter is in fact the excitations of an underlying cosmic matrix (22). The 1998 Nobel Peace Prize in physics was awarded to Robert Laughlin, Horst Störmer, and Daniel Tsui in relation to the discovery of this state of matter. At a similar level of difficult-to-perceive phenomena are components of the human brain which  Laszlo identifies as sub neuronal networks, consisting in part of microtubules operating at the nanometer range. While scientists assert the presence of 1011 neurons, there are 1018 sub neuronal microtubules (49). According to Laszlo and others, this allows for processing power at “quantum levels,” censored by conscious cognitive limitations. A quick search for scientific peer-reviewed articles dealing with these microtubules produced numerous examples, most dealing with the movement of energy at the Planck scale (10-33 cm).

I am not out to try and solve the “hard problem” of the exact relationship between the physical brain and non-physical consciousness, or to base my academic research in the field of fine arts on what Laszlo identifies as the “Akashic Paradigm;” I bring in this information only as a means to point to ways that “mind” can be defined, beyond the simplistic notion of chemical activities within a “meat computer.” The physical senses operate in a direct relationship with the physical brain, but the mind may operate on deeper levels, and there may be many other ways of sensing, beyond the physical (Leland, 91). Despite what is or is not accepted by the “mainstream,” I would assert that considerations regarding just how deep of a level that the mind operates on in a cosmological sense might best be kept open at this point. This does not preclude a functionally phenomenological approach to the senses in relation to mind, though it does undermine aspects of Merleau-Ponty’s body schema as a pre-personal and pre-reflective phenomenological substrate (Lewis, 168-69). After all, if consciousness were thought of as superseding the physical, the body itself could then legitimately be considered post-personal and post-reflective.

I recently read Helen Keller’s book The World I Live In, which contains three chapters on what Keller calls the dream world. On one hand she complains of the ways that the subconscious mind can overwhelm her with confused and turbulent events, yet she also clearly states the incredible value that dreams had to her in terms of forming connections with and understandings of  things in the waking world. In addition, the ways that touch and smell helped to form bridges between visual memory and verbal descriptions by her sighted and hearing companions point to more of a trans-personal aspect of consciousness, where “two or three unaided senses reach out to complements in another body” (58). Beyond this, expanded data regarding out of body experiences and dissociative states as occurring in normative conditions of the brain point to aspects of mind beyond constrictions of neurologic localities (Kelly, 403). Recent research also seems to confirm that “genius” represents a cooperation between supraliminal and subliminal modes of cognition (475).

Dreams in particular are of interest in relation to mind. For instance, in cases of disease or of brain damage affecting waking memories and cognitive or motor skills, these abilities are not always affected during the dream state in the same way. This line of thought intersects my research in terms of energy and audio-visual culture, where similar affectations of artistic creations occur among disparate and networked or disconnected cultural groups.

How do artistic works connect with and affect people in an energetic sense? Are certain kinds of energies affective of certain mental aspects? This is where metaphysics becomes useful, because it provides a granular holism, one where the mind is not constrained by studies of the brain. There is certainly no shortage of cognitive and empirical studies of the mind as a production of the brain, these can be useful also, especially in a psychological and linguistic sense.

Various metaphysical texts connect locations on the body with specific energy centers, which in turn are correlated with various emotional and mental processes. The incorporation of metaphysical systems of thinking into my research allows for reciprocative connectivities between artworks, human individuals, and in tandem with more objective data drawn from products of the information age, and the fabric of culture in a larger sense. One of many examples to draw from with regard to this idea is Eastern Body Western Mind, by Anodea Judith, which is an excellent synthesis of Eastern philosophy (centered on the chakra energy system) and Western psychology.

The mind as a transceiver implies that it sends and receives. This is accomplished by means of transduction. Geneticists (according to Wikipedia) define transduction as the way that DNA is transferred from one bacterium to another by means of a virus, while Mirriam-Webster’s dictionary offers a more generally useful definition: “the action or process of converting something and especially energy or a message into another form.” This definition accommodates  a metaphysically integrated conception of mind-body in relation to the cultures it operates within, and the way that artworks along with their variously expressed artifacts can be analyzed as catalysts of transduction (among other things). Case studies which follow will help to illuminate ways that traditional neuroscience and psychology can intersect my research into relationships between energy and creativity.

Subsequent to the ways that energy is utilized in productions of artworks, there is an ongoing variegated flux of influence and energetic commutations between individuals and societal networks in various contexts. These contexts may include ways that related artifacts generated in relation to primary artworks also operate. As a transceiver, mind becomes a conduit of these energetic flows.

Specific cases of individual artists and scientists can help to ground some of these ideas in the real world while generating lines of thought which begin to follow some of the conceptions mentioned above. A good example is the case of Anne Adams, who appeared to reach heightened creative prowess as a visual artist while she began to exhibit symptoms of a progressive degenerative brain disease. Paradoxically, it would seem that scientists might themselves sometimes draw conclusions based on coincidence, just as empirical thinkers have accused believers in paranormal events to have also done. For example, I do not personally see a definitive connection given between degeneration of one part of the brain, and the appearance of enhanced artistic ability along with developments of another part of the brain which supposedly controls those same artistic abilities, as Dr. William Seeley et al report in “Unravelling Bolero: Progressive Aphasia, Transmodal Creativity and the Right Posterior Neocortex.” Indre Viskontas and Bruce Miller formulate an excellent and measured response to the more clinically focused study produced in conjunction with Anne Adams herself by Seeley et al. Viskontas and Miller point out that coping mechanisms by patients of degenerative brain conditions and their families can lead to the appearance of other positive behaviors. Additionally, evidence which unambiguously demonstrates increased creativity among individuals with degenerative brain conditions is scarce, and current directions in neuroscience move away from regional specialization and toward neural circuitry which may traverse various regions of the brain (Bristol, 115-116).

An added dimension of interest is highlighted early on in the Seeley et al study of Anne Adams, namely that the composer Ravel had begun to express similar symptoms of the same degenerative brain condition when he composed his Bolero, as Dr. Anne Adams did as she painted a highly articulate visual representation of the same musical work (40). This is given as suggestive evidence that those who have this condition may tend to focus in on themes of repetition, texture, and symmetry. There are arbitrary distinctions made in this article, such as the statement that Dr. Anne Adams’ Unravelling Bolero represented the height of her creativity, along with the suggestion that Dr. Adams’ condition contributed to the use of synaesthetic methodologies and increased attention to rendering details of some of her subjects with photographic realism (40). There does not appear as of yet to be a study done that has been able to specifically use artists as control subjects in these kinds of cases, though art produced by other patients has been analyzed by various researchers (Bristol, 120). Artists are often seen to choose a variety of focuses and working methodologies whether they have degenerative brain conditions or not. Furthermore, both scientist-turned-artist and composer throughout their careers  certainly had strong focuses in repetition, texture, and symmetry whether in the research laboratory, at the piano, or at the easel, and well before they had degenerative brain disorders. It has been reported by other neuroscientists that the visual art of patients with the same types of neurological disorders that Anne Adams and Ravel had was rated as more bizarre and distorted (120)– a case of science operating in very subjective territory, or so it would seem. Beyond this however, we find in the writings of Viskontas and Miller an analysis of wider ranging areas of cognitive function in relation to patients with degenerative brain conditions and those with normal brain functionality. These do in fact point to marked differences in visual acuity under certain conditions, where those with conditions like the ones suffered by Anne Adams and Maurice Ravel were seen to exhibit more efficient visual search strategies (124). In light of the case of Helen Keller mentioned previously, and who seems to have traversed a cognitive arc almost opposite to that of Anne Adams based on the importance of linguistic thinking in the case of Keller, one is led to wonder about structural variation of the brain among many whose brains were not available for direct study. A quantum based view of mind, intersecting as it does with my more metaphysical choice of conception where locality and physicality are transcended (Zeilinger, 45), offers avenues of connectivity between Ravel and Anne Adams outside of “mere coincidence”–  some of these avenues I believe are worth considering in my project, though space does not permit it here.

My interest in the mind as a multi-modal agent of transduction superseding neurological conceptions and influenced by subtle energetic structures ranging throughout the body as mapped by various channels of metaphysical thought compels a consideration of pathologies among other bodily systems and their relations to resulting artistic areas of focus. To some extent, this is my interest, albeit not so much in relation to pathologies but rather artistic output and subsequent influence (see Q2). Hinting again at the relevance of a somewhat Ponty-esque phenomenology, itself well-tempered by my alliance with pseudoscientific literature, it is curious to note that in the majority of neuroscientific studies relating to creativity, the human body outside of the brain is virtually ignored.

A consideration of energy as vibration in direct relationship with consciousness in a larger context can be seen in the work of a man named Luigi Ighini, who lived from 1908 to 2004, and who was an assistant to Guglielmo Marconi, the man often credited with the invention of radio and who shared a Nobel prize in physics in 1909 for his work in wireless telegraphy (Citro, 95). Anticipating later theories such as today’s superstring theory, Ighini stated during the last interview of his life that matter was “rhythm that pulsated in different ways” (98). Various experiments by Ighini involved the transformation of both animate and inanimate matter through the use of vibrational frequencies. This connects with theories outside of mainstream science which maintain that the bodies of living organisms are more extended than in the way we perceive them– they are dynamic pulsating structures, interacting with the environment and with other bodies in ways which we do not consciously perceive. In short, the relationships between mind and senses as articulated by mainstream science are at one end of a spectrum which reaches into deeper dimensions of reality ranging from difficult to perceive to perceptible only in altered states of consciousness (such as sleep, meditation, or dissociative states), to levels well beyond our current understandings and reach of perception. This entire spectrum can be viewed in terms of consciousness as energy, and all form as vibrational expressions of this energy. These levels of so-called reality are not in any way mutually exclusive, they are engaged with in different ways appropriate to their context.

The only way that the full spectrum of creative works manifested in the world can be justly apprehended  is by means of a contextual aspect flexible enough to accommodate them. Critics of those artists who employ metaphysical conceptions for their creations are not well-served by empirical materialism, except maybe in the case of those rare coincidences that others are accused of misinterpreting.

Works Cited

Anodea, Judith. Eastern Body, Western Mind. New York: Celestial Arts, 1996. *

Bristol, Adam, James C. Kaufman, and Oshin Vartanian, (eds.) Neuroscience of Creativity. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013.

Brugger, Peter and Christine Mohr. “The paranormal mind: How the study of anomalous

experiences and beliefs may inform cognitive neuroscience.” Cortex. [Elsevier/ScienceDirect] issue 44, pgs. 1291-1298, 2008.

Buhlman, William. Adventures Beyond the Body. New York: HarperOne, 1996. *

Citro, Massimo M.D. The Basic Code of the Universe. Rochester VT: Park Street Press, 2011. *

Dale, Cyndi. The Subtle Body An Encyclopedia of your Energetic Anatomy. Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2009. *

Gardner, Howard. Art, Mind, and Brain. New York: Basic Books, 1982.

Keller, Helen. The World I Live In. New York: N.Y.R.B., 2003.

Kelly, Edward F., and Emily Williams Kelly. Irreducible Mind. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.

Laszlo, Ervin. The Self-Actualizing Cosmos. Rochester VT: Inner Traditions, 2014. *

Leland, Kurt. The Multidimensional Human. Boston: Spiritual Orienteering Press, 2010. *

Lewis, Michael, and Tania Staehler. Phenomenology: An Introduction. New York: Continuum, 2010.

Seeley, William, w/ Brandy R. Matthews, Richard K. Crawford, Maria Luisa Gorno-Tempini, Dean Foti, Ian R. Mackenzie, and Bruce L. Miller. “Unravelling Bolero: Progressive Aphasia, Transmodal Creativity and the Right Posterior Neocortex.” Brain. [Oxford Journals] issue 131, pgs. 39-49, 2008.

“Transduction.” Merriam-Webster, 2011.

Web. 29 Aug 2014.

“Transduction.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 June 2014. Web. 29 Aug. 2014.

Zeilinger, Anton. Dance of the Photons. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010.

Energy and Art (2014)


“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds that it is attached to the rest of the universe.”

– John Muir

Scientific understandings of energy of course deal with what is objectively measurable and quantifiable. Certainly energy as it is apprehended and measured in its various forms through mainstream science complicates knowledge of the myriad and subtle ways that energy can affect human beings, many of which are currently immeasurable. I see the creative realizations of audio-visual works as a viable interrogative arena perfectly suited for crossing some of the operative yet occult boundaries created by this dichotomy. In a larger cultural sense, based on the idea of energy as a variable feature of both artistic works and the cultures they engage with in a reciprocative sense, new territories of knowledge can additionally be ascertained and developed.

In a global sense, the movement of artistic works through the cultures they are entangled with facilitate highly variable manifestations of energetic effect, apart from whatever intrinsic energies these artistic works may theoretically or measurably possess. This aspect alone offers new channels of analysis, especially in relation to subjective affectivity or intensity as termed in the question– i.e. how do relationships between subjective/affective and measurable energies modulate as artistic creations are culturally apprehended and circulated? Ideas found in the science of economics, along with those found in media and cultural theory may help to delineate a way toward this kind of study. The Oxford dictionary defines economics as the science of the production and distribution of wealth. It is widely understood that energy must always figure prominently into ways that these systems of production and distribution work. Creative works of any kind operate within exchange economies as well. How do these channels of exchange operate in terms of energy?

Energy is required for the production of art on one hand, and creative productions of all kinds subsequent to their creation operate within economic ecologies of exchange. Economist John Foster points out that the economic system is an energetic system, and states that humans, as living dissipative structures, are seen as seeking to increase access to free energy sources, and/or increase the efficiency of currently employed energy transformation processes to do more work (90). Creative  productions today move within complex and mediated components of society (Inglis, 22), and I would assert that their energetic differentials can be mapped out, in terms of their function as variously articulated socio-political commodities. Examples of ways that this can be accomplished might incorporate an analysis of works framed as currencies, in the way that David Joselit does in After Art. By not privileging discreet objects and notions of medium and postmedium, we can ascribe new roles to artworks related to their origins, documentation values, and migratory capabilities within cultures (3-9). Contrast this with a more semiotic view of cultural objects in relation to their value offered by theoretician Michael Thompson. Clarifying an essay by Jonathan Culler titled “Rubbish Theory” from Culler’s book Framing the Sign, Thompson identifies three categories of art objects in relation to their economic value. These are transient objects which have finite life spans and lose their value over time, durable objects which maintain or increase their value over time, and a less obvious category of objects which have an unchanging value of zero (T. Crow, 148-50). These categories can also be applied to cultural productions not privileged as discreet objects, as Joselit suggests. Descriptors such as transient, durable, zero-value, migratory, documentative, and origin-valued can allow for mappings of the way these various cultural productions function across society in an energetic sense, by means of the way they move through networks and mediums of exchange as forms of currency, utilized for processes of energy transformation in a qualitative sense.

Notwithstanding the more clearly articulated differences between them by the likes of economist Paul Nystrom, who implies that insight and appropriation on the part of entrepreneurs is not the same type of more directly creative work on the part of artists (Runco, 383), they both, along with scientists and engineers, nonetheless utilize overlapping modes of thought. These modes of thought to varying degrees might include aesthetic goals in conjunction with a desire for novelty. More importantly, all are engaged with throughputs of energy during and after production and injection into society of their works. In other words, artworks function in an economic sense just as other products, inventions, or commodities do. Qualitative variabilities based on descriptive terminologies such as those highlighted here can be used to map out verifiable “energetic signatures” of creative works within the fabric of social structures and their multi-contextual networks.

Stated a bit differently, identifying the functional roles of itinerant creative works as commodities within networked systems of exchange can allow for mappings of energy based on political and art-as-currency valuations. Artworks can be thought of as aggregators, connectors, neutral agents, or dissipators of energy in an economic system which allows for the tracing of these functionalities. In some sense this crosses the boundary between energy as property and energy as affective agent, particularly where cultural productions can be seen as taking on valuations translated as aggregated energetic properties. My specific cultural interest is in creative works which incorporate both visual and sonic elements. This in my view demands a special attention to energy, as all cultural productions are not only created, perpetuated, and modulated in various ways by means of energy in its various forms, but are just as, if not more so, culturally affective in an energetic way.

In a sense then, my focus is to be (in part) ways that works of art produce cultural affectations expressed as energy. This requires not only an identification of the multifarious ways that energy can be expressed and identified in relation to specific artistic works, but ways that energy in these various forms is seen in relation to various human or societal elements that the works affect in a multi-modal sense. I add the term multi-modal here, because my concern seeks additionally to broaden the idea of energy beyond these more objective political, social, and economic variables in order to enlarge the scope of the “map.” For this, I seek to utilize what may best be termed “para-scientific” resources as a kind of lens with which to extend ways of looking at energies intrinsic to cultural productions, and the ways that these energies directly affect the intrinsic and more subtle energies of human beings. This can be more fully explained in the question regarding areas of emphasis, but what I am referring to are non-physical anatomies of human energy, along with ways that these subtle energy structures can be affected by energies intrinsic to the audio-visual works being experienced.

This additional level of inquiry creates a polarity, contrasting territories between the objective/social/cultural/scientific and the subjective/individual/psychic/metaphysical. There is no doubt that energy as sound and light, whether consciously sensed or otherwise, affects the human being on many levels. The subtle energy structures and electromagnetic fields in the human body can also be deliberately affected (Dale, 7-8). The para-scientific aspect of this research involves published literature revolving around technologies for measuring human subtle energies in specific capacities such as manifestations of aural energies and chakras. These technologies are not accepted by mainstream science, nonetheless a wider field of inquiry can be accommodated by means of their inclusion. Sources are numerous; I have included a few in the bibliography for this essay. These are specifically identified as non-academic and non-peer reviewed where appropriate. Ongoing research will produce a separate annotated bibliography for this material.

Steve Goodman maps out the propagational vectors of vibrational events through what he identifies as networks of cybernetic capitalism in his book Sonic Warfare (xix). Goodman’s extension of vibrational ontology into the “tactical and mnemonic context of viral capitalism” in the context of acoustically designed ambiences of consumption and “the acoustic design of ubiquitous, responsive, predatory, branding environments using digitally modeled, contagious, and mutating sonic phenomena” correlates quite well with David Joselit’s determinations regarding the trajectories of visual art and architecture out of an object-based aesthetic and into a network aesthetic. Joselit points out that the specific formats which artworks assume lend them unique forms of power (After Art, 91). These forms of power connect directly with energy, and this energy propagates via networks. The idea of a network can be amorphous or physical (see methodology) In either case the network can serve to operate as an energetic substratum and multi-modal point of affective reference. Ways that these networks are formatted depend, as Joselit mentions, on the works of art themselves (95). This as a whole is a challenge to conventional academic ways of understanding the role of art today, especially in relation to visuality and audiology as a combined study.

     How does an ontology of sound as a component of subsuming energy fit within a paradigm of audiovisual culture? Though my interest is in formulating  new way(s) to interrogate audio-visual culture (see areas of emphasis) based on ways that specific audio-visual works operate in relation to the permutative forms of energy they are comprised of and which they affect, a meta-historical overview of audio-visual culture in general might be useful. The following are some highlights from such an overview, drawn from a history of such width and depth as to be immeasurable in its own right, yet a more expanded pre-history component might ultimately serve my project well. The chronology of these highlights points to three distinctive pre-histories, as defined by media theorists Dieter Daniels and Sandra Nauman. These are 1. The theory and practice of relationships between colors and sounds, 2. The evolution of human perception, and 3. The combination of auditory and visual forms of expression in human culture (Daniels, 6).

It was mainly after the turn of the century when music and color began to be considered in the same light. This was around the same time that the concept of the ether– the mediating substance between technology, science, and spiritualism (Milutis, xi) began to fade, after centuries of nourishing and informing the metaphysics which eventually gave way to our present-day physics. In 1915, the composer Alexander Scriabin sought musical connections with color, as did Kandinsky and Schoenberg (Tuchmann, 162). It was around this time that color projecting apparatuses were developed, with such names as “Chromola,” “Clavilux,” and Thomas Wilfred’s “Lumia” device (298-99). Precedents to this include Helmholtz’s “Sensations of Tone” (1862), along with the assertion by Goethe that a theory of painting equal to that seen in music did not yet exist. Kandinsky pointed this out in his “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” (Kandinsky, 28). In another of his publications titled “Point and Line to Plane,” Kandinsky illustrates Beethoven’s fifth symphony in terms of dynamics within a picture plane. Kandinsky equates gravitation and tonality with his choice of words such as “cool tension toward the center” (Kandinsky, Point, 123).

As telegraph wires, and later telephone systems were strung across countries in the early 1900s, sounds began to be heard which had not been heard before (Kahn, 27). This coincided with the development of the microphone (35). As technology was developed to capture and manipulate natural sounds, the scope of sound increased much further. The appearance of sounds through resonance of telegraph and telephone wires, along with railroad tracks and military “earth transmission” technologies, were all directly associated with natural energy. Experimental composers later began to incorporate sounds from the natural environment, including amplified frequencies of the human brain.

All of these are/were based on natural energies, yet connections between sound in the early twentieth century and natural Earth and cosmic energies seemed increasingly obfuscated as the twentieth century progressed. This was true even though composers such as John Cage, Hugo Benioff, and Alvin Lucier were not creating sounds; they were using sounds from the natural environment. Composer Edgar Varese was also still characterizing his orchestral works as imitations of environmental sounds, either natural or technological (80). Generally speaking, these sounds began to be thought of in terms of their properties, rather than in terms of energy, especially in relation to physical matter. Beyond this, electronic instruments began to be developed, though initially these instruments were designed to mimic existing orchestral instruments. Experimental composers in the mid twentieth century concerned themselves with the way various pre-existing sounds could be manipulated.

Based on the fact that sound was not incorporated into film as sound track until around 1928 (Sider, 22), it could be argued that when the image was combined with sound for the first time, there was a bifurcation, with one direction toward the way that sounds function in relation to the dynamic visual image, and another in which sound began to seek its own ecology. Sounds heard along this secondary path, including seismic activities, were eventually re-identified as being sourced by natural or technological energies. One might additionally argue that when sound and image were married together, the energy of sound went conceptually from environmental to cultural, but then eventually back to culture as environment. Certainly the marriage of sound to film allowed for the emergence of painting as a metaphor for music, as seen in Mondrian’s “counterpoint,” or Pollock’s rhythmic forms (Leggio, 143). The extensive cross pollination between art and music in the 40s and 50s could be in part due to the marriage of image and sound in motion pictures in 1928. As a part of this secondary emergent ecology, composers began to become associated with visual art styles.

During the period of time just before, during, and after 1928, there were concerns on one hand with “machine music,” as well as with primitivism. This dichotomy can trace itself being worked out in later aspects of music, as Jazz seemed to fill the space left between the machine and the primitive mask (Leggio, 203). Reflections of the further evolution of this dichotomy can be seen in American techno-progressivism and the traversing of cultural boundaries. Examples include Mondrian’s “Foxtrot,” and later,  Andy Warhol’s “Dance Diagram” artwork in the early 1960s (174). Around the time that Kandinsky had gone to teach at the Bauhaus, composers such as George Gershwin and Aaron Copland (among others) began to incorporate Jazz music into their work. At the same time, abstractions in artwork began to incorporate musical instruments, especially instruments associated with jazz as can be seen in the works of Aaron Douglas, Thomas Hart Benton, George Grosz, and Arthur Dove (208-9). There was overall thus a shift in the ways that sound and energy were related- sound went from being a result of natural, environmental, or technological energy to being a kind of cultural energy. This represents a transition from sound energy as a transferrable physical property, to one of human affectation within audiovisual culture.

It might be worthwhile here to point out that in the mid-twentieth century experimental composer John Cage claimed that vibratory and thus musical reality is inescapable and there is no such thing as silence (Kahn, 219). Additionally, light artist James Turrell asserted that “there never is no light,” (219), and somewhat later during the late 60s, conceptual artist Robert Barry declared that “there is nothing that is not energy” (220). During the 1960s, works of art as strictly material objects had begun to be challenged. While Cage composed his 4’33” as a direct response to Rauschenberg’s white monochrome canvases (Crow, 123), Turrell was inspired to focus on the tiny patch of the visible spectrum by slide projectors employed for viewing photos of paintings in art history lectures (Kahn, 219), and Barry was introducing forms of electromagnetism as a challenge to the materiality of traditional art forms (220)– energy subsumes all.

As Doug Kahn expresses very succinctly in Earth Sound Earth Signal: “The acoustical energy of sound, once it had begun to be loosened from musical sound, offered itself as material to the arts” (218). The waves, fields, and radiations of the electromagnetic, including spectral aspects of light and color could not be far behind. This mode of thinking continues to expand today based on pioneering works by these and other artists, for example Barry’s January 5-31, 1969, where labels on the wall offered the only way for the viewing audience to become informed of specific radio frequencies being transmitted through the room (220), and Joyce Hinterding’s Electrical Storms of 1992, where high-voltage electrostatic speakers produced high-fidelity amplifications of ambient electrostatics, along with natural radio recordings made at Walter De Maria’s Lightning Field (244-5)

     Vast expansion of this idea of sound, along with other forms of energetic propagations as artistic material can be seen today in the works of numerous artists. Compendiums of their work are many fold; examples include See This Sound and See This Sound 2 as realized in Web archive, exhibition, published compendium and symposium formats in Europe by Linz Capital of Culture in conjunction with the Ludwig Boltzman Institute of Media Research, and Soundings as realized in exhibition and publication in America by the Museum of Modern Art.

In academic circles, color is not generally thought of in terms of energy, rather it is thought of in terms of additive and subtractive process (light and pigment). The same is true for sound, which is often thought of in terms of its properties. When thought of in terms of energy, light and sound are involved in human affectation and in energy transduction in more myriad ways. These energy transductions may be in the form of affectations from music and sound or artwork and light of various types to the audience, from person to person, from instrument to instrument or sound generating element to other elements in the form of sympathetic vibration or transduction, across other elements in the space or of the space itself, and even eventually to those not present where the energy generating work is located, as shown by the power of networks. Though my main focus will be on energy expressed within audio visual culture in a larger sense, the relationship between sound and light should not necessarily be ignored.

Theoretically, all aspects of sound may in some way be shared by light, and vice versa. Both have wavelength and frequency (implying oscillation). Though in the past light has been thought of as either functioning as particle or wave, sound artist/theorist and experimental composer Pauline Oliveros has stated that sound, in the form of phonons as a sonic particle corollary to photons of light, in fact also exist (Kahn, 175). Bringing together these ideas, along with the idea that human energetic affectation can occur across a broad spectrum is furthermore exemplified by Oliveros, who also theorized that global broadcasts such as the funeral of Princess Diana, or the earlier moon landing of July 1969, each simultaneously entrained brainwaves among viewers worldwide into a “sonospherical synching” (180). This further exemplifies the power of networks as a means of energetic dissemination in a cultural sense, beyond the more literal context of the invisible electromagnetic television signal acting as an agent of antagonistic pairings between commodities and networks, as pointed out by David Joselit in Feedback (7). In the digital age, where the audio-visual can be transcribed as pure information, these types of antagonistic relationships multiply exponentially, along with permutative and varying forms of energetic assignments, artifacts, and affectations.

In my research, I want to manifest a polarity of sorts. The polarity would entail a kind of “qualitative thermodynamics” based on affectations of creative works within the fabric of social networks on the one hand, and an approach to ways those same creative works produce human affectations based on metaphysical and para-scientific understandings of relationships between the intrinsic energies and energetic structures of both the works themselves and their audiences on the other hand. Within this polarity can emerge new ways of understanding how creative audio-visual works function, within relativities of knowledge, alchemies of emotion, and  within the chimeric oceans of information-as-energy that we move through, and which in turn circulate throughout our physical world as fluid networks.

Works Cited

Crow, David. Visible Signs. La Verne TN: Ingram, 2003.

Daniels, Dieter, and Sandra Naumann (eds.) See This Sound Audiovisuology Compendium. Köln: Verlag der Buchandlung, Walter König, 2010.

Foster, John. “Energy, Aesthetics and Knowledge in Complex Economic Systems.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, #80, 2011, 88-100. Web, 08/24/2014.

* Dale, Cyndi. The Subtle Body. Boulder Colorado: Sounds True, 2009.

Goodman, Steve, Sonic Warfare. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012.

Inglis, David, and john Hughson, (eds.) The Sociology of Art: Ways of Seeing. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Joselit, David. After Art. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013.

– – Feedback. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007.

Kahn, Douglas. Earth Sound Earth Signal. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2013.

Kandinsky, Wasily, M.T.H. Sadler (transl.) Concerning the Spiritual in Art. New York: Dover, 1977.

– – Point and Line to Plane. New York: Dover, 1979.

Leggio, James (ed.) Music and Modern Art. New York: Routledge, 2002.

London, Barbara. Soundings. New York: MoMA, 2013.

Milutis, Joe. Ether. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006.

The Oxford American Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus. New York: Berkley, 2001.

Runco, Mark A. Creativity. New York: Elsevier, 2007.

Sider, Larry w/Diane Freeman and Jerry Sider. Soundscape ~ The School of Sound Lectures 1998-2001. London: Wallflower Press, 2003.

Tuchman, Maurice Judi Freeman, Carel Blotkamp et al. The Spiritual in Art : Abstract Painting 1890-1985. New York: Abbeville Press, 1986.