Human consciousness-- the "I" in "I do"...the "decider"- if you will (and maybe you won't) can do amazing things. In its rather slow, (15 to 20 bits per second), plodding way it is capable of remarkable feats of reason. The results of this talent are all around in the form of technology the sciences and philosophy. And yet....the senses are bringing in 20 million bits per second. Our minds are actually processing and acting on much of it in ways completely unknown to consciousness. Discoveries in neuroscience and psychology put the concept of "free will" to task, putting it more in the realm of a feeling than a relationship to the world.
Our experience is infinitely complex, yet in the midst of all this complexity, consciousness makes it all seem simple. A pile of sand for instance seems simple-- just a pile of sand. Yet the complexity of that pile, the relationship between each grain, is astronomical. What our minds are best at is filtering or throwing away information. We filter out a great deal of this complexity with just the limitation of our senses. But the greatest filter of them all is what we call our consciousness.
Consciousness imagines it knows what's going on. Sitting beside a mile-wide river of information, it dips in a finger here and there and claims to know the river. And, with further conceit, it often believes itself to be in control of the river. Remember, we create the reality we live in.
The context of our perceptions determines the shape of things we perceive. Our experience, when viewed from any one angle, is incomplete; viewed from all angles is incoherent. Consciousness effectively conceals this reality from us with a soothing, simple narrative of its own creation. In the mean time, we've been doing so much more.
Whatever record there is of all this activity lies in the subconscious. Here we can find evidence of this expanded flow and it's important to pay attention to it. If we ever want to escape the chauvinism of consciousness with it's gross over-simplifications and illusions of control, we need to listen a little more closely at this portal into the lost, the feared and the ignored. Here we experience things not through the drip, drip of the conscious mind but rather, the full torrent brought to us by all our senses.
We're treated to bits of the expanded flow in flashes of insight, hunches, emotions and, of course , our dreams. It's for that reason that I've recorded my dreams for many years, culling them for bits of insight that suggest universality. The fodder for this grist mill is a subconscious and conscious reaction to my world: the political, social, rational and emotional content of my experience. The language I work in is that of the subconscious.
Music is experienced this way. We hear it, we feel it. An enormous range of thoughts and images flood the mind. We don't demand an explanation for each note... we just experience it on a variety of levels. In fact, an attempt to explain it can diminish the experience.
I make my art with just such an experience in mind. I use the techniques of animation to bring images from the unconscious to life. In a darkened room I present sequentially formed sculptures on a rapidly spinning armature. A synchronized strobe light supplies the illumination. The images exist in real time and viewers are able to share the same space with them. The illusion creates a conflict between sensory information and logic which suggests the reality of a dream. One by one images or "gestalts" are knit together into a coherent (or incoherent) whole. Our minds have an overwhelming desire for order. We create the order. What's fascinating is both the way in which the context influences the order and how the nature of the order defines us.
I am drawn to animated sculpture because it's a more complex experience. We perceive sculpture as we do two dimensional work but in addition, it has a dimension of time. A walk around a sculpture , indeed any three dimensional object, yields a vast array of contours dancing on the two dimensional screen in our heads. It's only our visual training that allows us to make sense of the information. Our knowledge of objects allow us to link the images together into a single identity. The changing contours that we witness form a kind of animation. As we move, forms mutate one into the other in a wild spectacle of change. The narrative we create from this panorama is the object. With animation, however I'm able to form another layer of narrative, a subconscious narrative.
In my process the act of experiencing art relies on the viewers subconscious response. I'm not offering order. I'm not offering an explanation. That might trigger a left brain, conscious response. There's no instruction manual for deconstructing my intent. It's assumed that the process is a collaboration between viewer and artist. There are only sensations that create feeling, intuition, emotion. (though consciousness will undoubtedly be there fighting for control). For me, this is the reason we make art: to bypass the slow plodding communication of the conscious mind, and project content through all the senses directly, with all the complexity that it possesses. Perception on this level is inherently honest, free from the filtering that so limits our experience. After all, within the realm of the unconscious, self-deception is an oxymoron.
Gregory Barsamian 2012