Monopole Catastrophe

“Painting is a thundering collision of different worlds, destined to create a new world. Technically, every work comes into existence as the universe comes into existence, namely through catastrophes.” -Kandinsky

As a conclusion to our summer research project, we present the digital animation titled “Monopole Catastrophe.” This title refers to a scientific theory which proposes that we live in a false vacuum. Upon decay of this vacuum, caused by a lower energy vacuum, the earth would be instantly destroyed, and a new vacuum would emerge at light speed with fundamentally new constants of nature. Some theorize that this event may even be triggered by experiments using high energy particle accelerators. Such an event seems to be highly unlikely, though as a possibility open for consideration, it points to the vast transformable underpinnings of reality.

In relation to our work, we considered this notion not in a destructive sense, but as a way to be open to the awareness of the infinitesimal conditions that our existence is dependent upon. Since the first moments after the big bang, it appears that the universe has followed a narrow path eventually leading to life emerging on this planet. Whether we consider this to be the workings of a Creator, Higher Intelligence, or simply random processes, it is hard not to be in awe of our place in the universe in view of all that our existence is founded upon. In our day to day lives, we live unaware of this foundation as we attempt to secure our existence and meet the demands of our self-image.

In primitive times, myths and rituals were created out of the wonder of the life giving aspect of reality and the terror of the destructive aspect of reality, providing a space for directly being in tune with the flow and rhythm of creation. Progressively in modern times, as myths and rituals fade from our attention, we are becoming atomized, fragmented into specializations, and led by a partial segment of our self. Our elementary schools and universities are increasingly driven by measurable interpretations of retained knowledge and arbitrary ranking systems. How devastating this has been to those qualities of self that can not be measured! An over emphasis on rankings by outside agencies is reflected in students lack of self awareness. This approach is as doomed to fail as an individual who basses his understanding of himself on the opinions and credentials of others. To be sure, curiosity, creativity, originality and vision have not been completely suppressed, but rather than being used as instruments to gain deep insights into the nature of oneself and reality, they are twisted to manipulate oneself within the technocratic system. It is no wonder that this lack of curiosity and depth is reflected in some of the nation's foremost leaders.

The point we are making here is that as we are increasingly becoming detached from the interdependence of reality, we become excluded from the creative depths of reality that make available both fundamental physical transformations and psychical transformations. For a monopole catastrophe can also be seen as a metaphor to an inner spiritual or self-catastrophe.

Just as the limitless abundance of physical reality from the quantum to the chemical that compose our being in the world evades the narrow scope of our conscious interaction with the world, the depths and components of our inner psychical reality that form our viewpoints go undiscovered, ignored, or concealed. There is a discernible anesthetic effect that credential centered society produces in relation to ancient human enigmas and the rawness and vitality of life lived without obstruction. Subtle barriers are erected through body language, inflection and what goes unsaid that guide a world view in which the invisible, numinous qualities of reality are placed out of bounds, or studied in the form of powerless and distant representations. In turn, hidden aspects of the self are left stagnant, thus eroding the connection to the inexhaustible depths of mind. As this connection is minimized, creative potentials ready to be awakened within ones self command little attention, and the mist of pervasive diversion clouds our inner vision.

As artists, there is no more a vital impulse then to reconnect our selves with the original life giving nature of reality in its fullness of spirit and eternal unity. This has been one of the primary missions of art throughout the ages, although now, when the disconnection to the numinous is growing, it seems to be an all the more needed yet increasingly insurmountable task. As products of this modern era, we can not separate ourselves from it, or simply revert to earlier modes of expression. We must face this apparent disconnect head on, and create ways to reunite with reality through reenvisioning and recycling the outputs of our technologically immersed society.

The visual material for “Monopole Catastrophe” originated from abstract acrylic paintings. Portions of the paintings were digitally photographed and edited on a computer. The program Studio Artist was acquired with our grant funds and allowed us to animate the painting manipulations. We then composed the animation with original music using Final Cut Pro.

Through an interweaving of digital processing, the initial paintings took on utterly new forms, expanding and contracting within various levels of abstraction. The world of the paintings collided with the realm of the digital, creating a new totality not reducible to the two. As a result of this impact, the images were brought back to life, surging forward rhythmically moment by moment. The viewer is left grasping at the images as they inextricably flow by. Memory, conceptualization and anticipation fail to take in the fullness of the movement. One may however, if one chooses to open oneself, step into the stream of experience, letting the transformations of light and sound surround them.

Rather then side stepping the issue, this film takes on the modern day atmosphere of disjointed reality directly, bringing it to its logical conclusion in catastrophic terms. Whether the dynamism of movement and the surplus of color merely mirror the excesses of our times, or breaks free towards an exuberant beauty, it is hard to say. The film poses not as an answer to the dilemma, but highlights what is at stake. As we find ourselves searching for the lost connections and hidden dimensions of human experience, the fragments of the self may need to be broken free from their rigid enclosures rather then simply rearranged. In seeing through the transitory nature of forms, exterior identifications, images and labels, a remembrance of interdependence with the world may emerge. Freed from the limitations placed upon one's self, and out of closeness to creative reality, unified being and true individuality may be possible. It is our hope that this may be brought to the fore in the realm of art, for otherwise, the unity of reality, and of our dependent existence within it, may make itself known through outer catastrophe.