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The byline of my blog The Swinburne_Complex is “Tightening Up Loose Associations”.


The sheer volume of creative work on the Internet is an amazing and overwhelming resource to feed one’s creative process. It is also an opportunity to share the diverse sources one draws upon for inspiration and information.


One of my concerns as a visual artist is reaffirming that the core discourse of visual art remains between the works themselves. All else is peripheral. The visual dialogue is it’s own thing that we happen to eavesdrop (or rather, eyes drop) on and that this condition remains ultimately ineffable allows for a certain paradoxical freedom within a cognitive dissonance of the desire to describe one’s genuine experience whilst that very desire is being undermined – we resort to something close to grunts – look! Wow! Cool! Brilliant! Or is that the effect of the seven-second world of electronic media? Three minutes is an eternity in the land of pixels, or is it? Transcendent power eludes speech our persuasive power of social cohesion.


Our attention longs to be held. The popular upsurge of mindfulness as a panacea to solve unrest and cure discomfort in one form or another attests to this. However, creative attention is unrest. It is mutable through observation and imagination but anchored through themes, obsessions, perceptual biases and repetitive strivings.


Observable patterns that fluctuate like ocean waves I watched for hours are set deep with a meaningful sensibility that have become descriptors of abstractions and formulas I barely grasp but sense a unique convergence that motivates me to sort and collect as I have always done, but with a greater sense that others are on similar paths and we have this medium to share the journey.


Through my researches Gaston Bachelard, who coined the term “The Swinburne Complex” describes the condition of reflective attention well in the following passage – although he is referring to poetry, to poetic sensibilities if you will; to my mind this speaks to contemporary media streams:


“Thus water, by means of its reflections, doubles the world, doubles things. It also doubles the dreamer, not simply as a vain image but through his involvement in a new oneiric experience.

Of course, an inattentive reader may only see yet another worn out image. That is because he has not really taken pleasure in the delicious visual effects of the reflections. It is because he has not lived the imaginary role of this natural painting, this strange watercolour that moistens the most brilliant hues. How could such a reader follow the narrator as he proceeds with his task of materializing the fantastic?” – p48 Water And Dreams an Essay On the Imagination of Matter


This circuitous linking of the experiential, the metaphorical, the literal and the factual is what interests me with respect to the doubling that Bachelard speaks of. Within the compressing attention demands of the Internet, I wish to compile a series of reflections not only as part of my own creative processes, but to test if any linked associations become salient enough to stimulate and endure.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to adjudicate the Being Scene exhibition this year. Chris Mitchell’s well honed facilitation of physically viewing 350 or so works of art was just great. Choosing 50 was the hard part. As a jury we collaborated to narrow it down and one often wishes there was room for a few more. I’ve hung a few group shows and it always is quite thrilling how one sees conversations between different artist’s work start to form, the visual and/or thematic relationships, the pieces that whisper and the one’s that shout. As individuals, when it comes to visual art, the conversations that we hear are all a bit different. That’s the real reward. Thanks Chris, Sarah and Noa for a great experience and to all the artists who submitted.

Kosslyn speaks here of a doubleness in the way people think, contrasting the use of “depictive” representations, which are direct and unmediated, with “descriptive” ones, which are analytic and mediated by verbal or other symbols.’ p230 The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks

Source: p230 The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks

Image: Jan Swinburne


The folowing article relates to the synesthesia-like aspect of the water / light themes that persist as material and consequential representations with my work. The formal and material imaginings sometimes coalesce with information I happen upon through various researches.


The images in this article inspire both micro and macro scale musings.


This is a useful clip as well...





Even the blues have their use.

This is a wonderful piece on complexity...

These definitions are useful when pondering Lux Coda as it relates to organizing or disorganizing associations of meaning.


In the video “My Language”

A.M. Baggs demonstrates the valuation of personhood based on linguistic facility.


Knowing nothing about the video, the first few minutes drew an exasperated “primal performance art” sort of reaction from me until I realized there was more going on. It requires more from us.


“My Language” asks us to consider our bias of linguistic facility against other forms of communication. Considering that much of our communication is non-verbal, you would not think this would not be too difficult. We readily communicate with our pets and infants who have as yet to learn to speak, or by studying brain activity of people who are in chronic comatose states; we make the effort to learn a way of understanding, why would this approach not apply to anyone with language impairment? Baggs admits the irony that a linguistic translation was required in order to put forth this point. Even then, a few comments on the YouTube channel indicate the resistance to the notion. One is struck with the sense of consequence for people who fail to conform.


The argument is made that self-stimulation seen in autism is not communication as it does not involve an interaction with another person. I agree and I don’t. The question is deeper than what pragmatists’ desire.


To my mind this begs the question of how we experience the world through our senses. Is the conscious awareness of that not, at the very least, a communion with the deepest elements of the universe? The essences of what we are made of? As an artist, this makes sense to me. We use wordless language all the time for a variety of reasons. Most of our deepest connections are impossible to put into words. Words are mere approximations easily altered by inflection or syntax.


In thinking about semantic architecture from Bagg’s perspective I draw inferences towards the feedback structure of chaos theory through stereotypical behaviours acting through and upon one’s senses, if these do not form an expression of our inherent systems of knowledge and learning before abstraction; but with conscious awareness, they become abstractions through context.


There is much to think about with this offering from Baggs, but it may be most important that we consider our linguistic prejudices and the resulting consequences towards people who do not conform with the expectations of our society.