The Studio of Eric Valosin

Monday, January 23, 2012

Out of the Cave and Into the Light

I've been thinking a lot about idealism and its inextricability from spirituality, and I was struck as if by the lightening of Aletheia with inspiration for my next project!  (Sadly the degree to which that bastardization of Heidegger ties this blog post in with previous posts is only overshadowed by the degree to which it makes me a dork.)

A bit of preliminary research on Idealism yielded some interesting findings.  Idealism, of course, stems from "idea," from the Greek idein a word meaning "seeing," developed by Plato in his search for truth.  For Plato the ideal lies in an archetypal absolute that is somewhat dissociated from the objects we encounter; a neumenological entity distinct from our phenomenological world.  His notion of the idea grasps at this neumena in the famous shadows-on-a-cave-wall example.  Eventually, this all develops into the Neoplatonist basis for many Christian theologies.  The wonderful cohesion of this visual struck me, as you will see.

If we trace the history of projection (the medium by which I've been most enraptured of late) back to its origins, we find that it is actually profoundly spiritual.  The first true slide projector was given the name Hyalotype, after the Greek hyalo.  At first, this word is translated to mean "glass mosaic," but upon closer inspection, it more likely would have referred to stained glass.  This means that the creators of this projector harken the very first notion of a projection to sunlight projecting colors through stained glass.  The reason stained glass is so popular in churches is because of the inherent spiritual metaphor that exists upon viewing it:  the bodies of viewers beneath the glass are literally warmed and transformed into the color of the divine image projected onto them, in a sort of imago dei type transferral.  Thus, projection itself is already loaded with spiritual implications.  Add to that Plato's vague shadows projected onto the wall by the light cast onto the ideal form - the idea - and we have something profound:

The experience of spirituality IS the struggle for idealism; the grasping at the true neumenal idea gathered from the vague phenomenological shadows cast onto the walls of pragmatism around us!

Plato discribes 5 ideal forms that he supposes must comprise all of the rest of matter, a sort of rudimentary atomic theory.  Each of these forms, he figured, must be perfect in that they are only comprised of repeated regular geometric forms:

(naturally tongues of fire would be made of pointy pyramids, solid earth from cubes, slippery water from ball-like icosahedron, and so on.)

So where has this led my imagination?

For my next White Canvas Video project I'll begin by constructing these forms and filming the projection of their shadows onto a canvas.  The shadowy shapes will gradually become the basis for my painting and drawing on the canvas as it evolves through a stop motion animation of layering.  (Which nicely ties into painting and drawing's origins - a grasping at control of forms on none other than the cave wall!)  Ultimately images will arise and a tension between neumenological idealism and phenomenological pragmatism will develop, as I visually construct the ideal in the way an artist draws, while constructing the pragmatic in the way nature would grow it (i.e. an ideal house being drawn with the infinite possibilities of shapes and lines and color, rather than the pragmatic house built up brick upon brick to form walls).

I'll continue to let the narrative be open as I try to practice a prayerful, meditative openness, and see where the film/painting goes.  Ultimately it will return to white, being that the search for idealism is essentially a preparation towards a starting point.  Only when one can believe unwaveringly in the ideal can one truly be open to the workings of the spirit.  Then the spirit can begin it's work.

I'm hoping to resolve some of the other issues I've had in my previous White Canvas Videos as well, making parts of the canvas highly textural for a stronger visual relationship between canvas and projected image.  I'll also take more liberties as a film editor rather than adhering to the regimented staccato of my previous works.  

I'm very interested to see where this all leads!


  1. i'm clearly catching up to reading your blog, but i'm really excited to see this project come to fruition.

    1. Thanks! Already the project is evolving and may not look like what I had first envisioned... or I might split it into two projects and try it multiple ways. Soon I'll update with my progress... I've been a bit distracted working on a piece for a show in Belmar to raise awareness/money for an affordable housing project (post with details to follow soon!). Thanks for your continued interest in my blog - you don't know how excited it makes me to know there's at least one for-real person in my "audience," especially one who doesn't share my last name or gene pool!