I want for my art to be a portal through which myself and the viewer or listener--the perceiver--can access a alternate world, where we can step into a construction of time and space that presents to us aspects of ourselves and life we haven't touched on before. I want to create catalysts that disrupt our habitual interpretation of the senses, allowing us, prompting us, to interpret ourselves and the world in a different way.
When I think of a portal, I see that image that is often conjured in video games and movies. Some strange force, be it a magician, a cosmic hiccup, or an extraterrestrial voyager, opens a magical window with undulating edges floating a few inches above the ground, presenting an alternate dimension beyond it. If we walk through the portal we leave behind our familiar reality and enter a foreign reality.
If I drive the same way to work each day, if I do the same things everyday, if I have the same sort of thoughts and emotions each day, my perception ossifies. The world is essentially manifold and fluid, but if my perception is stuck or blocked, then my interpretation of the world will reflect that rigidity. The world will seem to be a rock that yields no change and no beauty.
If we step through a portal, we are given an array of novel stimuli that move our thoughts and feelings along grooves that were not accessible in the previous dimension. One person may step through a portal and find a porcupine itching its crotch while whistling Beethoven. Another person enters a dimension in which a gathering of 700 grandmothers are crying tears of ecstasy on a mountain of purple flowers beneath a mossy green sun. A different portal-wanderer may find a world where everything is the same as it always has been, except that their kitchen dishes are made of dehydrated mud and napkins are nonexistent.
The contents of the portal's dimension are foreign to the person beholding them. Because the stimuli are foreign, they create a new state of being within the perceiver. If I am caught in a routine of rigid perception, seeing the same world, the same box, the same limitations everyday, and then an elephant crosses the road and takes a dump on the hood of my Toyota Camry and wipes my windshield with some its trunk and mucous, my perception is likely to be shocked into a more open state.
Some of the experiences I appreciate most in life are those that pop open my mind, my eyes, and my heart. Experiences that leave me thinking, “What was that?” These experiences are not often rationally understood, at least not initially. How could they be? If the stimuli are truly unfamiliar to me, then I won’t yet have a model for interpreting them.
That is the key: Seeking and creating experiences that I don't initially understand so that I can expand the boundaries of my reality.
Because the strange experience doesn’t fit into the pre-existing structure I’ve built for my reality, the situation behooves me to alter and expand my perception. For me, when I have experiences that alter and expand my perception, it often coincides with inspiration and appreciation of whatever is happening around me. It could be from art, but it could also be a walk in the woods, a thoughtful conversation with a friend, making love, or even singing in the shower.
The shift in awareness needn't be immense and instantaneously world-shattering, though it could be. These moments can be small instances of creativity that place a drop into our mind that ripples outward and reshapes our awareness. In these moments of shifted consciousness, the world is tingling and alive. In the belly, there is ignited a flame of motivation to participate and collaborate in the world's creation. It is easier to access insight and see each moment as a creative doorway. This is made possible by the new openness of perception.
When perception is rigid, the world and the self will seem dull and lifeless. At worst, it can become depressing, disheartening, and enraging. That is because rigid perception provokes the experience of limitation, and that limitation gives us pressure which comes out in the form of boredom, anguish, or grief. In this state, I will see only limitations and they will appear to be eternally insurmountable.
When an experience disrupts our familiar mode of perception, the world opens up to us. We feel more connected to ourselves, more connected to our surroundings, and more able to interact and co-create within our environment.
In my art practice, be it a drawing, a performance or whatever, I aim to give myself unfamiliar experiences that challenge my conception of the world and help me to experience life in novel ways. My intention in sharing my work is that others may also enter through these portals and find their perception to be more dynamic and free.
If you enjoyed this post, please stay tuned for regular updates to my blog. Writings about art, dreams, tarot, and the joys and frustrations of psychological constipation and liberation. If you have questions or thoughts, leave a comment below or message me here.
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