Am I a hypnotist? Short answer: yes. One person at a time and completely of their own free will. Although, I don’t plant specific commands in anyone’s mind. No, what I instill in my audience is an awakening to non-ordinary realms of awareness. Research words like entoptic and hypnogogic; you will understand that I am reintroducing elements of reality back into my audience, who may have only seen such things in the dreams they forgot upon waking. My imagery not only speaks to the optical nerves of the human body, but also tunes in to an expanded response of the greater nervous system. The most common, lazy response to my work is, “I can’t look at that! It hurts my eyes!” We all know that those who claim such things are not in pain. However, if it is an awakening they are experiencing, well, sometimes the truth hurts.
2. Honouring the dead
In countless cultures, the process of death is given as much attention as the process of birth. When a member of the community dies, various degrees of ritual are carried out, sometimes for months. These rituals can involve burning effigies, building spirit homes, leaving specific objects at altars, even strict scheduling for when and how to dispose of a body. As critical as I can be of the neglect given to the dying and the dead in North America, I would rather give credence to the time and attention artistic types give to those fellow creators who have “dropped their bodies.” When artists die, their contemporaries come together in a ceremony geared specifically to the life lived by the deceased individual. For example, DVDs of short films and animations compiled to honor dead performers and independent film producers serve as requiems screened ceremonially in a fashion similar to a wake. This I have witnessed first hand.
As part of Sled Island 2012, an entire multimedia exhibition at the Museum Of Contemporary Art will honor former Calgarian Chris Reimer, who passed away in February. Reimer’s spirit will be remembered and conjured through the auditory and visual recordings he made in his lifetime.
3. The sky
I live in the foothills of Alberta. The sky here is something of an evangelical entity, delivering a continual sermon upon humanity below. At any given time one can look up and feel rapture, brought about by the larger-than-life clouds and light above. Though this can be seen as a mere water cycle, wind current, or other banal weather trend, the sky refuses such impotent dialect, as its bombast demands not only attention, but reverence to the gods themselves inflating and crashing down to this strange, sacred, and rocky land.
4. The zodiac
Anyone who knows me at all knows that I enjoy astrology and the occult. What I love about astrology is how it relates the planets to our bodies. I see the human embryo floating within the womb, greatly unaware of gravity. There it is, a fetus, just suspended in a stasis of the primordial, rhythmic thrum. Then SNAP, FLUSH, SQUEEEEEEZE. Everything becomes too much, too soon. The first breath is forced into the lungs and, suddenly, the weight of the world is felt pulling upon every cell, demanding obedience to the magnetic forces of Earth. What I hypothesize is, when the newborn is in the throes of this initiation, its sensitivity to the forces of our entire solar system serve to brand the astrological weather of that moment onto its operative behaviors. It’s the universe saying, “Here. This is your map. Do what you will with it.” That is the natal birth chart. A planetary equivalent to genetic influence.
5. Spirit vs. matter
Part of my process as a human being is a coming to terms with what is “psychic” and what is “concrete.” I have gone through times where I side with one nearly completely and the other barely at all, and vice versa. It can be enlightening to realize it is all a projection and everything one employs to approach the outside world is a myriad of projections in relation to objects living, dead, and non-living. A mirage of seeing what one wants in the world or from it. However, you never know if that outside world is as real as the realm of the psychic. Therefore, I need to engage with the outside world as a way to close the circuit of mind and matter. I need to discover what I find fascinating, thus transferring elements of myself onto that which fascinates me. Dealing with my own obsessions in an objective way is what makes living in this world so anxiously exciting.