studio

talisman s preliminary tracings November 15th, 2010

obverse tracing, 2″/5 cm bronze plate (“solve et coagula” side)

reverse tracing, 2″/5cm copper disk (“conjunctio” side)

Protected: $ummer’s end August 31st, 2010

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how I’m spending this mercury retrograde August 23rd, 2010

Finally made it through photographing thirteen sketchbooks/journals worth of images. Of course I didn’t record everything because a lot of it is just not good, and for the most part eleven out of those thirteen were mostly writing and not drawings. It still ended up being a LOT of stuff. I have a set of slides from my last real quarter at KCAI in late 1990-early 91 which I need to have someone turn into digital format images (there are places that do that, right?). Was surprised to find that I have a continuous bridge of work from that time until now. Some of it just crappy sketches and bad emotive writing, but still. Some of it isn’t too bad. I’ve been doing art all along since then and I have material evidence of that. And that’s just the material evidence, not counting the performed art of ritual that took up 90% of my artmaking efforts for a number of years. Seeing the continuity of work over 20 years or so has been surprising to me since I’ve had to work pretty hard to contradict the strong persistent voice in my head that insisted for a great big chunk of that time that I’m not an artist, really.

So yeah, I am SO not allowed to get mopey about not being a real artist anymore. There never was any kind of “gap” or lost years in that sense.

Why is it such a big deal? Why did that nag me for so long, keep me talking about it over and over, and why didn’t I eventually just say “so what?” and move on? Because really and truly it’s what I am and I had to get right with that on all planes. Which took a while. Even though it was/is obvious to everyone else. It’s laughable, really. Good thing I have a very very persistent Muse that never listens much to what I think.

Now for the renaming, sizing, and thinking about what will be useful right away. I will spend two hours on that, take a gym break, and then spend the rest of the afternoon in the studio.

history battery August 20th, 2010

Dies Venus

Luna wx 87%v

(M2)

Doing the self-reflexive thing this morning and writing about building this site on this site.

Have managed to wade through all my image files, edit, size, and rename them, and put them into a more sensible file tree so that they can eventually end up here. It’s baby-stuff for most people I know, but I’m not very computer savvy so it’s taken a while for me to learn and apply in a way that looks like I want it to look. T has been a huge help. This would not be happening if he weren’t building most of the site and teaching me how to modify and maintain it along the way (read: dragging me kicking and screaming, initially).

Last night I started in on reviewing the paper media- many years of sketchbooks and magical journals. I didn’t do any reading, just perusing the images and marking some that might be useful here. It took a couple of hours and as would be expected took me back to some places I’d forgotten I’d been. Twelve full hardbound sketchbooks.  Afterwards I felt a bit dizzy and disoriented, like my internal wiring was confused.  I felt open and a little unformed, as if  some basic things had been rearranged. The journals had zapped me good.  It was completely unexpected but a great surprise.

Also had the pleasure of spending some time with a fellow magician yesterday. J has been in China for three years and is visiting back in the states to take care of some visa things and see people while here. He is making good on his ambitions, doing well and looking great.  We met to discuss the making of Abramelin oil and cakes of light. I had a lot more to say than I thought I would.

I would not be surprised if a drive to write and perform more dramatic ritual with other operators results. I crave the space, the rush of energy exchange, but my schedule hasn’t allowed that to be a very realistic possibility for some time now. Still, perhaps my day-to-day (night-to-night) schedule will change enough to allow for that possibility again. I’d like that.

In the mean time there’s still plenty to do.

Protected: finally, some progress August 11th, 2010

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organize! July 28th, 2010

Dies Mercurius
Luna wn 88%v

Beginning the process of organizing 4 years worth of image files to extract content for the website. Am seeing just how poorly organized the files are! For the most part I have just been taking pictures and dumping them off into the computer, 95% of them into one big folder called “my pictures”, the rest into named folders. Note to self: don’t keep doing that. Yikes.

Thank goodness I’ve recorded most of the materials and dimensions information on lj, too. I’d hate to have to re-measure everything and make guesses about pieces I no longer have in possession.

First edit through the images & folders yields decent pictures of about 70 pieces & process shots, about 200-250 usable images in all. Ruled out some pieces that I know I don’t want pictures of up on the site (the ceramic work, etc.) and I still have PLENTY. I think I have a few of the Mark Woolley show over on photobucket that I erased from my machine for some reason that I should snag back too. Maybe. I do remember they were kind of crappy pictures.

All of a sudden it feels like I have really made a lot of stuff.

Now what sort of tree do I want to hang this on….

http://www.microscope-microscope.org/gallery/Mark-Simmons/images/paramecium2.jpg

by my hand… July 27th, 2010

Dies Mars
Luna wn 97%v

the looming gremlin of mass production, continuity, and more road blocks I put in my own way

Have had a couple of days to get back into the groove by making a few simple layered metal pieces. My drawing sucks, but I’m doing it.

The metal pieces look like roughly-made mass produced elements stamped out of sheet and assembled. They look like pieces that machines could have made much better and more quickly, economically. It looks like I’m mimicking a machine process, poorly. Do Not Like.

For this kind of piece, most people cast multiples of the elements from perfected masters, but I find myself resistant to that idea. Why does carving something in wax and then multiplying it feel like “cheating”? Am I really that stuck on the one-of-a-kind thing? Yes, I think I am. And I think it could really hold me back.

I definitely have a fondness for the romantic singular event of making, and for the unique and unrepeatable object made by my hands in a segment of intensified time. It seems to come from my background in theater and dramatic ritual in general, initiation in particular. It also comes from living in a culture that places a high value on the individual and unique whether genuine or affected. Ironically enough, that same culture places little value on craft and is awash in ten thousand different (mostly mass-produced) options for any particular thing a person might want.

The fact is that, in comparison to casting 100 identical elements, a heavy steel die striking a piece powered by me dropping a hammer on it just feels better in my mind than casting it from a wax I carved.

The things I like about that that are all but invisible to anyone else:

-the metal is many times tougher, denser and durable for being impacted instead of cast. Its physical state, density is a direct result of its having been a receptacle of focused force.
-the process of the delivery of force that transfers the images/patterns is much more dramatic, more like some sigilizing processes. It is more immediately and easily choreographed to fit within ritual frameworks I’m familiar with
-the process is very old and very simple. The equipment required is very basic (once made & assembled) and can be used almost anywhere, Casting = many more steps and stages, much more required equipment (that I will have to travel to another location to use), brand new learning curve again.

HOWEVER…by not branching out, am I making a lot more unnecessary work for myself for a result that differs only minutely -assuming I raise my technical skill at the hand work to a high level- to most viewers?

The viewer who isn’t in on my particular views on the evocation of spirit out of matter will not see the difference (though I’d like them to). The viewer shouldn’t be concerned with me, anyway. They don’t need to see what goes on behind the curtain as the proof of the piece is in the experience of it. This is my problem with much conceptual art out there. One shouldn’t need to read a page of text to enjoy the art properly. One shouldn’t have needed to have read the book to enjoy the play- these things signal a failure on the part of the artist to do their job.

Should I stay with the time-consuming hand work, is communicating what is “special” about my work going to require that page of text  that I so very much dislike to explain, if what is special about it is hidden behind process? Should anyone care? I know I should, but will anyone else? (The problem becomes how to let the piece speak for itself, clearly, and yet still have it be close to my ideal).

What matters to me does not necessarily have to matter to anyone else. Ideally while making the work, I make no predictions on who might like it and who might be utterly indifferent to it. Easy to say hard to do. I’ll succeed if they have a live interaction with the piece(s). I might as well just concede that I’ll never have the view from the other side of the curtain as concerns my own work. I’ve already thought & written about it too much, about a perspective I will never have. My business is the how, and the opening of ways for these things to get into their forms.

Serving that thought, I do not want to inhibit the progress of the work by being too closed-minded about reproduction technology.

I still ought to take a casting course so that my choice is better informed. I feel so impatient though. Back to the exercises, then. Amd perhaps later have a conversation about material fertility & multiplication with one of my insect patrons.

Protected: back to it July 24th, 2010

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May 13th, 2010

Dies Jovis
Luna FULL
Another thing I’m no longer dependent on: narrative-based mythologies.  Ironically, getting outside of that box a little bit expands my understanding of “story” and humanness and allows me to appreciate that aspect of the spiritual even more. With increase of subtlety, the world becomes very, very big again.

Story decomposes back down to gesture, to interactions, decomposes further down into individual elements (unpacked symbols) and from there via their likeness to what surrounds me here and now re-pack themselves into the what-to-do-next.

crossed salts cycle 1 April 21st, 2010

Dies Mercurius
Luna wx 50%v
(M4)

yield: six crystals with clear crosses, approx 3mm x 3mm x 2mm (sea salt)
Gently separated the best large crossed crystals from masses of various sizes and clarity- six good ones. Re-dissolved the rest and re-set for slow evaporation in sunny spot on studio altar.

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