Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Conversation with the Alien in Art" written in 2002 and published by SPACE in 2003, NYC.


 A feature article By DAVID M. TWIDLE, an artist and shaman. SEPTEMBER 2003


Here I am, an urban artist alone in an apartment. There are no other visible beings here besides my cat and myself.

I am alone, except for the fact that everywhere I look I am surrounded by some strange presence, an alien presence.

The fact that over the course of time, I have diligently created this presence is my art. I have formed a collective presence on canvas and paper that looks at me with knowing eyes.

The emergence of this presence originated from within the depths of my being and in that sense is intimate. In that sense I "know" this presence to be a part of my being.

On the other hand, the fact that it forms a collective presence is alien to me. Here lies a dichotomous tension in my relationship to this artifice. This realization comes from the manifestation of a foreign face or visage in the visual field.

More than a face, it is a mirror or a reflection of my own outlined persona. Of course, the very idea of an alien is metaphysical and esoteric. However, this has traditional and formal representation as well. This perception lies within the basic evolution of consciousness and its expression as art, one of the underpinnings of culture.

As an artist searches more and more deeply for the motivation of the creative process, they in fact materialize an entity that they can never fully know or understand.

In this sense, art is a conversation with an alien being that lives within the deepest regions of what some might call the soul or life force. This being lies just beyond the self as a reflection of our obverse nature in a physical universe.

Some might call it the alter ego. George Condo refers to it as the "antipode." Picasso painted it in his painting "Woman Standing in Front of a Mirror," as well as in his surrealistic, post-cubist work that defined his career after the 1930s. It is revealed in the deconstructive attempts of Derrida to resolve linguistic marginalization, centrism and binaries.

It is the Hegelian method of the resolution of thesis and antithesis. It is Moses staring into the Burning Bush. I believe that it has many analogues in the visual field, as well as the literary and musical fields or all levels of creation.

Interestingly enough, I infer that in alienation this being reflects the condition of our being, individually and collectively in this contemporary age as we populate and evolve on all levels.

For many artists this has been the essence of their experience in society. Since their separation from the establishment embodied in church and state going up until the present time, many artists have struggled with their relation to the exterior world and how to incorporate it with their individual, dream world of ideas and poetry.

To be an artist means to be isolated in one's own dream world, since art is a language so personal, intellectual and spiritually subjective to the artist, regardless of criticism and objective analysis. This is the result from a concentrated spirit and intellection that characterizes the individual aspect of art and its relation to the objective world, which is also a reflection of this alienation.

That is to say, the whole time there is this balance sought between creative intimacy and the degree of objectivity where one can coexist within reality. In fact, it is intertwined through integration and analogy.

Ironically, this separation and isolation has become very public, as society develops more and more technology orientated towards an individualized, solipsistic world. In that sense, everybody is increasingly experiencing alienation in their daily lives as a result of these desires to be individual and unique as apparent collective level of objectivity through technological unity.

This is projected through television, Internet, radio, magazines and scores of other media, which form the panorama of collective analogues that our selves are creating through this relationship.

However, it isolates the individual from that collectivity by individualizing their needs and interactions with society and the objective world. This is ultimately ironic and contradictory. As it is a definite part of us, technology is creating a normality of isolation, catered to our whims and desires, or dreams.

As we create a place in the world that is an immediate reflection of our desires, we ironically create an alien being which both the collective society, totally inscrutable and our individual selves exemplify.

Even after we have consumed it in both a commercial and cultural sense, it remains as such. This is the artistic evolution of our being in a physical universe.

 Art is a conversation with an alien.

After abstraction and its re-codification in the formal realm, now the alien poses the next level of abstraction, that aspect revealing itself in the artistic process. It is the next plateau to our formal understanding of art in any field.

The alien is abstract like the individual in relation to contemporary society. This abstraction is the point or place where we relate ourselves to the world.

In the height of the cult of celebrity, where individuals become individualized abstractions of themselves and a template ideal, this could never be truer.

My art as alien is as much a part of me as it is alien from me. It is a startling mirror to myself, like Maha Kali dancing on Shiva and mirroring him in his power to create and destroy.

As I look out into the world from my room and wonder at that collective alien presence of my art and the objective world, I see that it characterizes this present moment.

Then I wonder what my alien is really trying to show me. In any case, I realize that is where lies the secret and mystery of art and its infinite potential to become.

Who and what is the alien? Why do we need to confront it?

For now, we need it to progress on all levels of society and culture in order to achieve our next stage in evolution. As we confront this abstraction in our artistic lives, we are initiated into another level of existence and, of course, the development of our integral culture in a limitless space.

Copyright © David M. Twidle 2003. All Rights Reserved.