“Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe the more often and the more steadily they are reflected upon: the starry heaven above me, and the moral law within me. The first, begins at the place which I occupy in the external world of sense. The second, begins at my invisible self, my personality and depicts me in a world which has true infinity. The first view of a countless multitude of worlds annihilates, as it were, my importance as that of an ‘animal creature’ which must give back to the planet (a mere speck in the universe) the matter of which it was formed after it has been provided for a short time, we know not how, with vital power. The second, on the other hand, infinitely raises my worth as that of an ‘intelligence’ by my personality in which the moral law assigns a destination to my existence, a destination which is not restricted to the conditions and limits of this life, but reaches into the infinite.”
Taken from A History of the Infinite by Adrian Moore produced for radio in episodes by Juniper for the BBC Radio 4, first broadcast in September 2016.
Above image by NASA. Below image: anonymous portrait circa 1790, in anonymous collection.
The following is a fuller version of Kant’s words.
“Two things fill the mind with every new and increasing wonder and awe, the oftener and the more steadily I reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me. I do not merely conjecture them and seek them as if they were obscured in darkness or in the transcendent region beyond my horizon: I see them before me, and I connect them directly with the consciousness of my own existence. The starry heavens begin at the place I occupy in the external world of sense, and they broaden the connection in which I stand into an unbounded magnitude of worlds beyond worlds and systems of systems and into the limitless times of their periodic motion, their beginning and duration. The latter begins at my invisible self, my personality, and exhibits me in a world which has true infinity but which only the understanding can trace – a world in which I recognise myself as existing in a universal and necessary ( and not, as in the first case, only contingent) connection, and thereby also in connection with all those visible worlds. The former view of a countless multitude of worlds annihilates, as it were, my importance as an ‘animal creature’ which must give back to the planet (a mere speck in the universe) the matter from which it came, matter which is for a little time endowed with vital force, we know not how. The latter, on the contrary, infinitely raises my worth as that of an ‘intelligence’ by my being a person in whom the moral law reveals to me a life independent of all animality and even of the whole world of sense, at least so far as it may be inferred from the final destination assigned to my existence by this law, a destination which is not restricted to the conditions and boundaries of this life but reaches into the infinite.”
I have been recording the sounds that the sculptural components collect from their surroundings and reprocess within their space. This leads me to think about how sounds might behave when coming from within.
The final work will be a complex of interconnected internal spaces. How might these behave? How will this behaviour be affected by how components are connected? Is this relevant to the overall thesis; might this be an effective layering of meaning; confusing the issue; better used in some other context?
I continue to experiment and think about future works as the process of making evolves.
The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is as old as time itself. Long before the story was enshrined by Virgil and Ovid, it existed in Greek mythology and long before that, in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the myth of Dumuzi and Inanna. The desire to reverse death by descending into the underworld to raise a departed loved one must have been a theme in human culture long before writing. Even further back, what must it have been like for the first creature on this planet to come to the realisation of the finality of life? To attempt escaping what all others before them had struggled to avoid by instinct alone feeling only dread and fear?
The myth tells us that the head of Orpheus continues to sing as it floats down the river after having been torn from its body by the wild women of Dionysus. This somewhat macabre scene symbolises the triumph of art over death. But this subversion of the powerful brings with it a heavy price. The loss of Eurydice, trapped in hades for all eternity; the penalty for Orpheus’ curiosity.
In the light of the myth, the artist has to enter the underworld to create, but the result of his curiosity is to create a ghost. We only see a shadow of the vision and for this the artist is left torn between joy and regret. The artist exchanges life to give the semblance of life. Nevertheless, this act of subversion is a bid for freedom from fear.
Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden defy God through an act of curiosity. They gain the true meaning of life in exchange for death. Reality is as likely to tear you to pieces as the Maenads do the body of Orpheus.
The artist in a final moment of defiance tries to hold that moment just before looking back. But the inevitable turns what is in the mind into a pillar of salt, a sculpture, painting, film or some other simulacrum of life.
Art attempts reversal of what has been lost or about to be lost; to capture the moment before the head is turned. The result is often tinged with regret for what was not done, but also satisfaction for what was done.
For the research discussion I decided to create a series of videos that explain aspects of theory drawn from philosophy, art history and contemporary ideas, centred around subject object relationships and behaviour around art works as though they were living.
There are four videos in total, far too much to be seen during the 50 minutes session. However, making them has proved very interesting and I have developed ideas that not only serve my current practice and feed into the project proposal, but also provide hooks on which to hang a future research proposal should I decide to continue with a further degree.
The videos themselves are in crude form. They are really more like annotated podcasts. However, they provide the framework for a set of videos that include images, animations and videos and perhaps even load up onto YouTube.
In view of the length of the videos, I have decided to advance send the introduction which sets the scene and gives an idea of how the subsequent information came about. I hope that the second video, to do with subject-object relationships, gives sufficient material for discussion. I find it opens out onto various fields and could go in many directions.
I look forward to seeing how the others interpret the ideas, and what might emerge.