"'Field Notes Of A Terranaut' represents an attempt to visualize in prosaic terms the ground state of existence in the tradition of da Vinci like field notes."
Alan MacDonald's work appears in SciArt Center's most recent exhibit, "The Void and the Cloud." The exhibit's curator, Marnie Benney, spoke with MacDonald on his work and process:
MB: In a way, we started from nothing and will potentially return to nothing, or a void. How does your work explore the concept of the void in regards to human existence?
AM: I question orthodox assumptions around the terms – void and human. Our senses filter out vast amounts of information unessential for survival of the body-organism. Yet still, a trickle of information enters the mind experienced as intuition, a creative spark. Aha moments. Truly creative artists are in a sense mystics, "receiving" non local information in order to co-create local objects that inspire and extend consciousness.
In my piece, Field Notes Of A Terranaut, I attempt to visually represent this void-human relationship by re-imagining Michelangelo’s Adam as an electrical circuit diagram, having an infinite source current, feeding into the material planes, via a 12 plane step-down transformer. Thoughts are represented as causal switches, human (artists) as resistors generating creative output – effectively, status reports providing feedback to the, “…one subject of all objects.” (Suzanne Segal, Collision With the Infinite, 1998).
MB: Do you think humans can exist in the dual state of being and non-being? How does your artwork for this show support or challenge this duality?
AM: I cannot relate to the notion of duality, preferring the Vedic notion – 3(1C), the three in one nature of consciousness (Rishi, Devata, Chandas) i.e., knower, known, process of knowing. This archetype is also echoed in the Christian Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) creator, creation, messengers. In quantum physics, observer, observed, information.
My piece Field Notes of a Terranaut features a motif comprised of ice, water and vapor, expressing 3(1C), the notion of one substance having three states in a perpetual cycle. Brains are represented as pebbles in a stream of Consciousness creating local vortexes. A light source (generator/bestower) projects information, created by the selectively blocking the light, onto a screen (reflector/receiver) that otherwise would simply reflect the light only. Mobile technology is presented as reiteration of 3(1C) i.e., cloud, i-bods and data flow.
MB: What aspects of tangible physical form and virtual form do you use in your research or creative practice to explore the thread that connects them?
AM: I am fascinated by the field notes of da Vinci and Michelangelo. Mark-making is a profound metaphor for the quantum nature of creativity. Light as the generative field of probabilities, paper a reflector, and the marks collapse selected waves of probabilities into a particular form.
Field Notes Of A Terrnaut records findings of a ‘zeroth’ person, naturalist Terranaut on a "dive" to the plane of objects in order to derive conclusions about the realm of the one subject - consciousness. States Of The Arts (in progress) explores distinctions between postmodern and quantum-age art, in terms of reactive and creative impulses. I follow closely developments in VR, a supreme reiteration of the three in one archetype. I have a proposal for an interactive sky sculpture that invites participants to contribute in a meaningful way to be decided by collaborators. Fellow “The Void and the Cloud” exhibitor Brenda Perry, creator of the superb piece Relational Sustainability, and I have begun communicating about our mutual interests aimed at a possible collaboration.
MB: What happens to the physical world, the physical self, in a digital-dominated era?
AM: There is much angst about artificial intelligence replacing human roles, paranoia about robot rebellion as well as fantasies about uploading minds to a non-material form. The first count is legitimate – to a point, the others impossible from a metaphysical perspective. Mathematician Roger Penrose claims to have proven mathematically computers cannot process meaning using step by step algorithms. Computers are for answers, humans are for questions. To finish – my favorite quote: “What happens when the Creator of the (artist), looks through their eyes, and sees itself looking back?” (Segal, 1998). It is my intention to find out.