Cityscapes: the Hardware of Cultural Supercomputers

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Throughout adolescence I have seen cityscapes as both interesting and beautiful. I am fascinated by the towering structures reaching for the sky and the lights illuminating them at night. When I see the reflection of city lights on water I am intrigued.

Travel, Fascination, and Wonder

I’ve spent a lot of my life moving around and living in different regions of the United States. I’ve seen quite a few cities and the ones that stick with me the most are those that stimulate feelings of wonder and visual excitement. Pictures of cityscapes and urban scenes give me a similar feeling. Buildings like the Sydney Opera House, Oklahoma’s BOK center, and other modern looking and uniquely designed buildings are visually exciting to me. That’s  because they invoke a sense of futuristic appeal which I reflect in my artwork again and again.

BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma

I’m not sure exactly where this fascination came from, but as a younger child I remember enjoying a vivid imagination. That imagination is still mostly intact today, and I use it in my artwork. This imagination has also allowed me to see cities, in a sense, as centers of conglomerating, connected, and communicating information.

The Way I See Cityscapes, Roads, and Commuters

I see cityscapes sort of like motherboards within a computer. Each is a nexus of vast amounts of information that people are delivering back and forth as they commute. I see this as a sort of exchange of information, like electronic particles within a computer transferring information. This exchange and synthesis of information appears to happen in cities as well as computers.

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In this way, I also see the roads and sidewalks people use as electronic wires. I suppose that would make airplanes the metaphorical equivalent of WiFi.

Centers of Interraction

Some cities never sleep. Day and night people are commuting to their jobs, home, school and more to take part in this nexus of information in some way.

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Maybe they are going to have a conference where business information is exchanged, maybe they will exchange emotional information by meeting a friend downtown, or maybe they’re exchanging intellectually innovative information with a coworker.

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While in the city, commuters regularly receive and process information as people would in any culture, however; commuters can take the information with them and spread it from city to city, from city to suburban, and vice versa and so on. Each major city is like the motherboard of a computer and the suburbs and surrouding areas are like smaller parts of the computer.

Similarly, networks of computers and the information they process never sleep. All day and night the internet is being used by people going to and fro.

Cultural Hardware

It appears the perpetual and highly connected nature of society follows a model of communication and innovation similar to a machine Integrated within a network of intelligence. What this implies for humanity and its relationship with technology, I would guess, is a continuing trend for humans to make themselves more like machines and for humans to make machines more like themselves.
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WHY ART? Creating culture on the edge of a paradigm.

So…what’s so great about art? Why art?

My drawing of Socrates. He liked to ask why.

“Why art?” is a question I ask myself nearly everyday,  sometimes even  knowing I don’t have a definitive and practical answer.  My motives for creating art are so ambiguous that to try to sum it up into a few paragraphs or even a few pages is difficult for me.

The Evolution of Art

Art is a word that defines many things. The definition of art is being stretched day after day with the expansion of new technology  allowing for more time to create and  more things to create with.

 

What started as simple, humanoid  figures and abstract representations of animals on prehistoric cave walls turned into a complex spectrum of mediums, styles, and techniques. The human mind has allowed us to move beyond the realm of physical representation, allowing us to create the illusion of space on both traditional surfaces and television screens.  Countless television series, movies, video games and more are born. All of it is art.

Millions of people everyday interact with different forms of artwork from literature, to electronic media, to fine art and more. Hundreds of years ago this was not possible, not without the internet. Today, the internet connects artists to people, organizations, and other artists. This has allowed for tremendous progress, and not just for artists but for everybody.

Now we are getting to it. The question, “why“?

My drawing of Terence Mckenna.

Because art creates culture.  To paraphrase a brilliant mind, Terence Mckenna (see above), on the subject: culture is to the human mind what an operating system is to a computer. The culture is a collective of ideas, an effort to literally realize our collective dreams.

If you have an outdated operating system on your computer, you cannot do certain things that you could do on the newer models, unless you upgrade your operating system.The obsolete operating system cannot comprehend the processes of the newest models.  Likewise, the same goes for cultures.

Ideas Update your Culture/ Operating System

Remember how long it took for people to accept the now commonly accepted fact that the earth is a sphere that rotates around the sun and that we are not at the center of the universe? People were put to death for thinking this way in a culture which was not ready to accept the information because the dominant culture was outdated, obsolete, and could only accept information that supports itself.

This pattern  of revolutionary ideas followed by accusations of heresy  is repeated many times throughout history and has slowed scientific progress considerably for hundreds of years.

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However, once enough people started catching on to  and spreading the idea, it became accepted fact among the majority.  This is because the idea was pushed out into the culture like a virus into a computer. Only this virus is a good one because it allowed for an obsolete culture to be overtaken by a more efficient one.

I want my art to be like the good virus. I want to create visual ideas that could be used to help create the new  and improved culture, I would like to create art that may help open peoples’ minds to new possibilities and perspectives they may not have considered. I would also like to create and share art that shows the obsolete nature of the popular, dominant culture if possible.

I believe that art has the power to do this and much more, especially now that artists and millions of others have access to the internet. Ideas, memes, art, music, literature and more are all ways that culture can evolve and the internet is the nexus of all these great ideas.

An Example of When Art was Accelerating Cultural Understanding

Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” visually and simply depicts the concept of turbulent flow.

Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” was not just a magnificent painting but also a visual depiction of the concept of turbulent flow in fluid dynamics.

Gogh’s painting makes it easy for people to understand the concept simply by looking at the swirling patterns, yet it took mathematicians and physicians nearly 60 years to come to a decent explanation of the concept. It’s not because mathematicians and physicians are inferior, of course. It’s because art simply allows us to get a perspective of this particular concept in a more intelligible way than those fields.

Most everyday people would not understand the mathematical expressions for this concept if they saw them, but just about anyone can look at Gogh’s painting and see the concept plainly.

Why Else? To Inspire Contemplation, Creation, Communication, and Expression

It’s part of my mission to inspire as many people as I can to want to be an inspiration to even more. I want to create a chain reaction of creation and inspiration and I believe we all can play a part of this, even people who do not consider themselves creative.

I want to get people talking about important things. Things like the status of the dominant culture and things like our effect on the environment and surrounding cultures. I want like minded people to be able to connect through conversation about these things, I want people who may have differing perspectives on life to communicate and share their ideas .

Art Articulates the Ineffable and Connects People

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“Holistic Consciousness” Acrylic on canvas pad.

Art turns thoughts and feelings into an object or a book or a performance. Art materializes the Immaterial. Art is a way of showing people that our ideas, feelings, concepts and more can be articulated and shared with each other. Art is a way of unifying people and encouraging progress if the context of the artwork suggests it.

Conclusion

I look forward to forging a new paradigm with the rest of humanity as we move towards the future. With art, the internet, and the innovation of science and technology I believe humans can achieve many things once thought impossible by an obsolete culture in a fading paradigm.

The Process of Creating “Iridescent Canyons of Epistemological Boundary Dissolvers”

Contrasted by a fairly simple background, this piece delivers detail in the foreground as well as the middleground. The end result is only a shadow of all the work that was put into creating this piece, and I am going to guide you through how I did so in this article.

Making the Outline

First, the outline is created using a simple graphite pencil and eraser. This is arguably the most crucial step. Fortunately, it is also the most forgiving part of the process.

I started by first creating the horizon, which gave me a sense of direction in creating my composition. I then created the outline of the giant mushrooms and added the outline of a few big mountains (which you see as the dark blue outlines in the mountains of the finished product). I then created a simple outline of the clouds.

I take a while to review the outline, making sure it’s clear to the viewer what’s going on. The outline is the foundation of the rest of the drawing. If my outline is crappy and I don’t fix it a myriad of problems can arise later in the process.
Pushing the Creative Boundary 

If the idea of mushrooms the size of Mt. Everest towering over the surrounding mountains isn’t creative enough for you, wait, because there’s more!

I decide to give the mushrooms the appearance of emanating energy, choosing the form of a blue electricity. I also decide I’m going to make the mountains look very colorful and try to create the illusion of iridescence as well as add a lot more detail. Lastly I decide to make the sky look like its attached to the clouds as if the sky and clouds were some kind of technological mechanism.  I erase some of the graphite surrounding my mushroom outline, this allows space for the electric looking effect. I add in the blue electricity, color in the sky, and do a little of the shading on the mushroom caps to keep color from the mountains I’m going to shade later from overlapping onto the caps. What I have at this point looks like this:

Coloring the Opal Mountains 

I decide the on my color scheme for the mountains and get to work. This part took the longest. All the outline had to be erased and replaced with a colored pencil outline. This new outline was also multicolored and I blended the colors red, yellow, green, and blue together to create it. I decide to fill the mountains with the blue color.

I work thoroughly, adding touches of red and yellow in the blue shading for an added effect.

Eventually, I finish coloring the mountains.

Now for the final bit, shading the mushrooms. I just darken spots up a bit, even adding a bit of graphite to the stem of the shrooms. Yum.

Here are some detail shots of the final product:

Thanks for reading!