Sunday, December 14, 2014

Conceptual Proposal for “Dear Mother Nature” Hudson Valley Artists 2012 curated by Linda Weintraub Samuel Dorsky Museum, SUNY, New Paltz

There had to be a spot that contained magic, power, a place of such presence that all your senses start tingling, where you feel high, as if suddenly the volume has been turned up, inside you, outside you, everywhere.
-Mickey Hart

Curator, Linda Weintraub, of the 2012 Hudson Valley Artists exhibition at the Dorsky Museum, SUNY, New Paltz, invited artists to send a gift, to Dear Mother Nature expressing their relationship to and feelings about nature. My gift, an idea from 2010 sketched out in my notebook, is an earth healing treatment that utilizes techniques from Jin Shin Jyutsu, an ancient healing art developed to balance the body’s invisible energy system. JSJ uses the right and left polarity of hands on the body, to “jumper-cable” and direct energy flows into distinct pathways to unify and integrate the body.

The Main Central Vertical Flow in JSJ begins in the spine at the coccyx and moves up through the solar plexus, heart, throat, middle of eyebrows, to the crown. Using the Hudson River as a metaphor for the human spine, my earth healing treatment acupunctures the land in 12 separate locations, along the east and west sides of the river, aligning and balancing across these energy centers.

Solar Plexus = Newburgh/Beacon
Throat Kingston/Rhinebeck
Middle EyeCatskill/Hudson
Crown Albany/Troy

Drawing on the principle of batteries, copper rods wrapped with iron wire will be inserted into corresponding earth “chakras” representing the spine along the river.

The invisible network generated by human-made energy channels co-creates not only metaphor, but an actual physical and etheric connection to the planet.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

New Energy Situations, Connections & Algorithms

Solar Plexus = Newburgh/Beacon
Throat Kingston/Rhinebeck
Middle EyeCatskill/Hudson
Crown Albany/Troy

"Human beings have a quite different kind of energy than they had 200 years ago, or 500 or 1000 years ago; that today the energies of freedom are emerging in us, and that this is exactly the point where one can speak to, a kind of science of freedom.
Once the bottom line in our stocktaking of the world has been found then everything must orientate itself toward this new energy situation. This includes recognition of the fact that a new manifestation of energy is in the world, represented by the human being; and that this is also something new in human beings--leaving aside for the time being the extent to which it has spiritual links to other networks of forces individualized in the world.
And although this is a given, it is still something that must actually be perceived, as well as practiced, taught and investigated."
-Joseph Beuys What is Art?

My project of inserting copper rods wrapped with iron wire into the earth at specific points along the Hudson River has inspired spontaneous dialogue and interest from both friends and strangers. Leaving from a doctor's appointment, I bumped into my neon artist friend, Rocky Pinciotti, who I hadn't seen in years. Hearing about my Hudson River Jin Shin Jyutsu project, he excitedly suggested I go global with it, track all the points with GPS coordinates, and create a website to sell the copper rods worldwide. That very same week, having lunch with a friend in New Paltz, a stranger sitting alone at the next table, overhearing my conversation introduced himself, Jonathan Pazer. A once-personal-injury-lawyer transformed into a paper-folding-origami-artist, he too, was enthusiastic about my idea and recommended geocaching as an added component to the project.

Coincidences, chance meetings, dialogue--what happens to us every day, creates our own personal algorithms shared within our social environment. Using the Taoist concept of wu wei and allowing each location to appear spontaneously is to be my method.

As a result, the selected spine locations along the river unfold into its own strangely connected narrative and algorithm. This blog tells the story.

Coccyx (West) = Stony PointJohn CageAl Loving
Coccyx (East) = PeekskillMeteorite

Solar Plexus (West) = NewburghThomas EdisonNikola Tesla
Solar Plexus (East) = BeaconJohn CageSt. Teresa of Avila Galileo

Heart (West) = New PaltzEmma KunzAlbert Einstein
Heart (East) = PoughkeepsieSamuel MorseBilly Name

Throat (West) = KingstonDolmensPlato
Throat (East) = RhinebeckLinda Weintraub M.C. Richards

Middle Eye (West) = CatskillThomas ColeHudson River School
Middle Eye (East) = HudsonFrederick Edwin ChurchWalter DeMaria

Crown (West) = AlbanyMatter Consciousness
Crown (East) = TroyMaterial ScienceAlchemySpiritual Technology

Friday, December 12, 2014

COCCYX = Stony Point→John Cage→Al Loving

Coccyx = Stony Point/Peekskill
Solar Plexus = Newburgh/Beacon
Throat = Kingston/Rhinebeck
Middle Eye= Catskill/Hudson
Crown = Albany/Troy

"Art is everywhere, it's only seeing which stops now and then."
-John Cage, 1978

What is it that draws us to a place? Landscape, economic opportunity, familiarity, the unknown..? My first earth acupuncture/needle insertion has begun in Stony Point, representing the coccyx, on the west side of the Hudson River. All I knew of Stony Point was John Cage had lived there in the 50's and 60's and a film John Cage Mushroom Hunting in Stony Point was made there. With little information of this place, I set out to look for a location to insert my first copper needle into the earth.

Having been raised Catholic, my discovery of a Marian Shrine in Stony Point to insert the first needle, seemed right, in harmony, with my proposal to align places along the Hudson River.

Marian Shrine, Stony Point, NY
"Our intention is to affirm this life, not to bring order out of chaos, nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we're living, which is so excellent once one gets one's mind and ones desire's out of its way and lets it act of its own accord." 
-John Cage, 1972

Surprised to find the shrine's parking lot filled to capacity, I ask myself what kind of ideas continue for thousands of years and create a continuing interest in such a large audience as religion does. Sacred space is a form of creative placemaking, and boy, the Catholics are good at it. This place was filled with Italian carved marble sculptures in wooded paths called the Rosary Way or Pilgrims Path. I wandered until I found what felt right or as it turned out, broken, in need of something.

Marian Shrine, Stony Point, NY
Many of the shrines were filled with flowers but this neglected place is where I begin my project, the Main Central Vertical Flow of the Hudson River (see first post). To the left in the photo below, is my copper rod wrapped in iron wire, inserted into the ground

Stony Point Copper
41º 12' 57" N, 74º 0' 34"W
My friend with me, Mara Loving, widow of Al Loving, remarks on the uncanny connection of the spiral form in the marble remains next to my needle. Al is well known for his painted abstract spiral paper collages.

Al Loving, Beauty #57, 2003
"When you see how many things there are and you make more connections between things, I think that is the result of the acceptance of all the things. If you stick to your feelings and ideas, you may be impoverished then and have just the same ideas you've always had 2+2=4 and that will be the end of it. But if you let chaos come in, you have no idea how far you will go."
-John Cage, 1990

Thursday, December 11, 2014

COCCYX = Peekskill→Meteorite

Solar Plexus = Newburgh/Beacon
Throat Kingston/Rhinebeck
Middle EyeCatskill/Hudson
Crown Albany/Troy

What is it that draws us to a place? Landscape, economic opportunity, familiarity, the unknown..? My second earth acupuncture/needle insertion takes place in Peekskill, NY, on the east side of the Hudson River, representing the coccyx. I insert into the earth, copper spikes wrapped in iron wire, along several chosen locations up the river representing points of the human spine. I am giving the river a Jin Shin Jyutsu treatment called Main Central Vertical Flow.

Ink, pen, copper foil on paper
I look for specific places in these pre-chosen towns/cities, that feels like an attractor of energy to me, to insert my copper needles.
Once I learned of the meteorite that landed on the trunk of a red Chevy Malibu in a suburban neighborhood in Peekskill, I knew I had to place my needle in close proximity.
Taken by S. Eichmiller of the Altoona Mirror from Mansion Park football stadium

On October 9, 1992, the meteorite entered the earth's atmosphere over Kentucky, exploded into fragments, and continued over West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania before it crashed into Wells Street, Peekskill. At least 16 people in several states were able to film the meteorite traveling through the sky that night.

Just a block from the crash site, I found an outcropping of rocks, which might have made for a better landing site. The Chevy Malibu and meteorite sold at auction for $100,000 and toured the world on display in a glass box.

Blue Mountain Reservation, Peekskill, NY
Peekskill Copper
41º 17' 2" N, 73º 54' 53" W

A severe thunder and lightening storm was taking place as we drove to the Peekskill site. My friend accompanying me, Claire Lofrese, suggested we do it another day but I thought not. Somehow the crackling light and roar in the sky felt ritualistic and perfect, as though the act itself and the copper material were summoning the skies and atmosphere. And as fate would have it, the rain stopped briefly so I was able to scramble up the wet rocks to hammer the needle into the ground.
With very wet shoes and a bit shaken from the severe weather, we sought refuge in nearby Cold Spring for a glass of merlot and Claire, so generously tells the tale below.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

SOLAR PLEXUS = Newburgh→Thomas Edison→Nikola Tesla

Solar Plexus = Newburgh/Beacon
Throat Kingston/Rhinebeck
Middle EyeCatskill/Hudson
Crown Albany/Troy

"I expect to photograph thoughts...  I am convinced that a definite image formed in thought, must by reflex-action, produce a corresponding image on the retina, which might be read by a suitable apparatus... with the optic nerve being a part of earth."
-Nikola Tesla, 1933

What is it that draws us to a place, or person or an idea? A feeling, a moment of some kind of recognition?

My third earth acupuncture/needle insertion takes place in Newburgh, NY, on the west side of the Hudson River, representing the solar plexus. I am inserting into the earth, copper spikes wrapped in iron wire, along several chosen locations up the river representing acupuncture meridian points of the human spine. I am giving the Hudson River a Jin Shin Jyutsu energy-healing treatment called Main Central Vertical Flow (see first post).

My selection process of where to place the needles develops into an historical tour of the Hudson Valley, and of place finding me, drawing me to it, by its sheer nature of energetic interest...and its ability to hold onto to something that draws attention and people to it. 
And so I discover in Newburgh the place where Thomas Edison's very successful Electric Illuminating Company opened in 1884. Imagine electrifying and lighting up an entire city for the very first time. 

The building then....

Edison Electric Illuminating Co., Newburgh, NY 1884
Edison Electric Illuminating Co., Newburgh, NY 2012
On this abandoned, boarded-up site, I set out to find a location to hammer my copper acupuncture spike/needle into the earth, without causing too much notice. I need soft earth and find my way to the back of the building.

I like the quiet, somewhat anonymous aspect of this project, creating an invisible network of copper needles in the earth; transmitting energy, thought, intention...all those conditions I hear and read so much about regarding mindfulness and quantum healing. I think of my copper spikes as "nerves being a part of the earth."

Newburgh Copper
41º 30' 14" N, 74º 0' 29" W
It is impossible referencing Edison without an understanding of Tesla, and their well-known intellectual and commercial debate over AC/DC. Tesla won but died broke and alone. And Edison, known as the inventor of the light bulb, did not invent the light bulb. He improved upon a 50-year-old-idea with a more practical light bulb, using lower current electricity and a carbonized filament.

Edison did invent the phonograph using tin foil. He noticed when playing the tape of a telegraph machine at high speeds, it resembled the sound of spoken words and this caused him to wonder if he could record sound. The ability to record sounds was by the gramophone, invented by Emile Berliner, and actually the first record player as we know it.

Inventions and ideas about sound bring me back to John Cage, to his term non-intention, and his idea of allowing chance and indeterminacy to develop a plan of action..."to diminish that kind of activity of the ego and to increase the activity that accepts the rest of creation." It was by chance, and paying attention to weird unknown sounds, that drove and inspired Edison to end up holding a world record of 1093 patents.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

SOLAR PLEXUS = Beacon→John Cage→St. Teresa of Avila→Galileo

Solar Plexus = Newburgh/Beacon
Throat Kingston/Rhinebeck
Middle EyeCatskill/Hudson
Crown Albany/Troy

Philosophy is written in this grand book, the universe, which stands continually open to our gaze. But the book cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and read the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it; without these one is wandering in a dark labyrinth.
-Galileo, inscription to Pope Urban VIII, 1623

What is it that draws one to a place? Particularly with an earth acupuncture healing project such as this. I was asked recently what is it I sense or feel when deciding on a location to insert my copper needle into the earth. I replied it was simply an excitement I felt and a certainty. I have chosen the twelve cities along the Hudson River to represent energy points or chakras corresponding to the spine but then must find within those cities, the right place. 

For some reason, choosing a place in Beacon, representing the Solar Plexus chakra, continued to elude me until I realized it had to be in the location I spend most of my time; the contemporary art museum where I work full time and exhibits many of my favorite artists: Agnes Martin, Joseph Beuys, Robert Smithson, to name a few. It is a 300,000 square foot, naturally lit, industrial space along the Hudson River.  On the edge of the property is a quiet reliquary of John Cage's collection of rocks used to make paintings during his Mountain Lake Workshop in Virginia. I am drawn to this place and Cage's belief in chance occurrences to "let" things happen and unfold in time.
In 1988, John Cage produced a series of paintings titled New River Watercolors at the Mountain Lake WorkshopCage utilizes the I-Ching or computer to compose his music or determine which material will be used to make a painting. These ideas developed from a Zen and Dada sensibility where "laws of chance" embrace all other laws and reveal a deeper sense of nature beyond the rational ego. Places we would never get to if left to our own thoughts and decision-making process.
Cage developed an extremely disciplined format in which to organize his decisions. Chance still involved discipline, to not do just anything, but to free oneself from the ego's likes and dislikes.

Cage collected stones from the New River, sorted them into three groups by size and separately numbered each one.
John Cage's rocks
Paint brushes, feathers to paint with and colors were also numbered. Using pages of random numbers generated by a computer program determined how each painting would be made; which stones to paint around, which brush or feather to use, which colors, how many washes... 

John Cage's numbered rocks
John Cage's numbered paintbrushes
What exactly is it about art, systems or relics that occupies our imagination? The remains of some great act, "something" left behind; what is that something?

I'm reminded of an experience from a decade ago. I thought for the fun of it, I would drive my then 10-year-old son to visit a Carmelite monastery that had advertised a St. Teresa of Avila relic on display. I was stunned and surprised to find myself sitting in traffic; hundreds of people were drawn to this place. Those long lines of people standing on city blocks waiting to see blockbuster museum exhibitions was nothing compared to this! All for a piece of cloth! And I without a camera! So impressed by this large audience, I researched St. Teresa and learned that her body had been exhumed several times after her death and "her heart, hands, right foot, right arm, left eye and part of her jaw are on display in various sites around the world."

On another occasion, visiting the Museum of History of Science in Florence, Italy, I was able to get a photograph of the finger of Galileo in a bell jar moments before being told no photography was allowed.
Galileo's index finger
Florence, Italy
Galileo convicted of heresy for discovering the earth rotated around the sun at a time when people believed otherwise. Imagine understanding a huge truth about the universe that goes unsupported by the majority of people living in your time!

Ours is a capitalist, materialistic and noisy time. We need stillness to hear the sound of energy flowing through our bodies and I believe, once we learn to listen, we can hear the stories we are not telling ourselves. We can hear the future.

My Main Central Vertical Flow of the Hudson River is telling an untold story weaving together multiple narratives and references.

Beacon Copper
41º 27' 15" N, 74º 0' 28"

Thank you, Melissa Toth, for sharing this moment in Beacon under the John Cage reliquary tree.