Prima Materia 

Circle and Square: GIVENS

Introspection / Extrospection

Receptacle / Transsubstantiation

Its Own Information

The Deepest Ground Possible 

In the beginning I was exclusively interested in considering and carving forms that had appeared spontaneously as instant images in my mind  (variations of a circle folded into the wood), yet over time the cubic volume of wood itself came into view: a given paradigm with its own information, and thus  an active receptacle for my thought. Thus two strands of thoughts or two 'classes of objects' with different kinds of origin have developed, which serve as a mandala-like framework which produces and structures my thoughts.

Squaring the Circle / Wholeness:

circle + square   =  psyche + matter  =  introspection + extrospection

Atalanta Fugiens, 1617, by Michael Maier

         INTROSPECTION - realm of the  CIRCLE

         ('sculptures made from rounded lines/ the loop)

  • the 'inner world'

  • to examine forms or thoughts which arrive in a spontaneous manner in my mind, 

  • which are 'un-produced', not developed, and have no (conscious) history of thought.

  • instead they can 'pop up' as an instant image of an almost archetypal nature.

  • they manifest in the instantaneous and bodiless form of the circle / the continuous loop of rounded lines. 

  • they push from and into the irrational, subconscious realm to which I have no access through my intellect alone

  • and appear to have symbolic qualities and potential.

  • the association with the realm of quantum physics suggests itself. 

  • introspection is in itself circular. (I work to understand what it is that I do when I work.

  • the 'self-emergent' in wood or my mind meets with the limit of what I can know with certainty.

  • spontaneous 'phantasies of shape' = the character of  'objective archetypes ' (Jung) ?

  • association with the realm of the feminine, the subconscious, emotion and the past

  • (in the I Ging: the heaven, the dynamic, creative, masculine, active yang principle is round)

 

 

 

 

 

Prima Materia

from: Atalanta Fugiens, 1617, by Michael Maier

         EXTROSPECTION - realm of the  SQUARE

         (sculptures based on the cubic/square volume of wood)

 

  • a 'frame of reference'

  • the outer world / res extensa /  'reality'

  • the exploration of the square / the wooden cubic volume / matter itself  through lines which are also square in cross-section

  • the cubic volume of wood = Prima Materia 

  • the square 'represents' the realm of reason, the conscious mind and classical world view

  • as embodied by scientific paradigms of measurement, precision and certainty

  • unlike the circle, the finite cubic volume has got details and separate features -corners, surfaces and edges (or vertices, faces and edges) which can be named, counted and measured - 

  • they are thus NOT perceived in an instant

  • to explore this cubic volume itself - its own information; to try and find its grammar  in as 'pure' a way as possible in wood. 

  • at the same time to observe how an idea 'external' to the cubic volume's 'own information', still must manifest within and through it according to its very own inner 'laws' or  'grammar'.

  • measuring the boundless is only possible against a backdrop of boundaries (the square/cube).

  • one cannot measure this 'grammar' without that which is to be measured having first of all been measured

  • measuring requires having a measure

  • however, within the 'ordinary' and seemingly knowable cubic volume and through carving, completely irrational and paradox elements emerge, most poignantly along its edges.

  • the cubic volume of wood = the entire volume of Spacetime.

  • realm associated with the masculine, the conscious and rational mind and the FUTURE

  • (see also: The Shape of Information, Parallel Diagonals, Encircling a Spatial Tear). 

  • (in the I Ging: the earth, the yin principle, is square)*

 

*

I Ging

Hexagram 1

The Creative

"The symbol of heaven is the circle, and that of earth is the square. Thus squareness is a primary quality of the earth. On the other hand, movement in a straight line, as well as magnitude, is a primary quality of the Creative. But all square things have their origin in a straight line and into turn form solid bodies. In mathematics, when we discriminate between lines, planes and solids, we find that rectangular planes result from straight lines, and cubic magnitudes from rectangular planes. The Receptive accommodates itself to the qualities of the Creative and makes them its own. Thus a square develops out of a straight line and a cube out of a square. This is compliance with the laws of the Creative; nothing is taken away, nothing added. Therefore the Receptive has no need of a special purpose of its own, nor of any effort' yet everything turns out as it should. Nature creates all beings without erring: this is its foursquareness. It tolerates all creatures equally: this is its greatness. Therefore it attains what is right for all without artifice or special intentions. Man achieves the height of wisdom when all that he does is as self-evident as what nature does."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(To always start with a cubic volume was an intuitive choice at first. An amorphous tree trunk or piece of clay would be of absolutely no interest to me.  The cubic volume offers a framework within which measurement is possible and therefore the idea of precision can be examined - only within the cubic volume the irrationality of a circle can be examined. )

 

The circle is the starting point in the mind, in matter the starting point must be the cube.

The work mandala-like unfolds the relationship between what the cubic volume itself shows about itself, and what it can 'carry'. Two very different kinds of objects, yet appearing in the same space. 

 

Can one say that one 'adds' information to the volume by thinking of a shape and then carving it from a cubic volume? Is it possible at all to say that one can make some thing within this volume that is not already contained? Not in the sense of pre-existence at all, but as the powerful force of the 'givens' which shape anything one might want to think and do according to their own 'rules'. 

 

When carving / exposing 'a diagonal', for example, is this diagonal an abstract notion coming from and belonging to my mind alone, or is it actually 'out there' as an 'objective reality' and property of the cubic volume of wood? Is one original to the other? Where is the actual borderline between the two? Do I carve an idea (Vorstellung) or a thing (Gegenstand)? Can we speak of  'free will'?

 

Can arbitrary decisions be considered to be 'free will'? Are these thoughts concerned with how something is or with how we understand something to be (ontology or epistemology) -? Which role does the body play? Which role does language (the word 'diagonal') play?

 

"Where do we draw the line between logic and experience?" (L.W.) - and is that the right question? Or: where do we draw the line within experience between logic and the surface and depth of a body /of matter ?) What do we base our understanding and our certainties on?

 

Do we presuppose a material reality as the ground for our thought/ for the thought of a line? 

 

 

The age old problem of how to square the circle for me is the literal exploration of wholeness. In carving thought and matter mingle in ways that make it impossible to define a clear demarcation between where ' I ' end and 'the wood' begins. Carving lines in wood to me is the most extreme tool of self-reflection, and the closest possible experience of and turning towards what we take 'for granted' as being absolutely fundamental 'beliefs' - or knowledge. Carving pushes into these foundations and certainties, into a realm where evidence is necessarily redundant. "Its Own Information" as 'Redundant information' - but not as something superfluous, but as showing something from the deepest ground possible.

 

Through the process of the careful observation of carving (carving thoughts / carving wood), causality -a clear sequence of events / the arrow of time- is not definable with certainty; cause and effect are indistinguishable. The quest for The Origin - the original shape, the original thought- through carving is the quest for cause and effect and an understanding of time.

 

 

 

 Bodiless Information

In the mind a line is single, bodiless and identical with itself. When trying to carve one line / circle in wood, first two lines need to be drawn on the surface of the wooden beam. The single line is an ideal - in the transition from mind into matter the single line must split into two to become the 'outline' of the line in wood. This splitting is necessary to 'fix' the line, to make it into an object that can be handled. Only later, when the line has been rounded and the surface has been sealed will the line become singular again with all the qualities described above. In the cubic volume however a single line can be directly exposed as the single edge of a cubic volume.

 

The edges and vertices in a cubic volume of wood are immaterial features and boundaries - they are bodiless information - and it is these singular 'bodiless' wooden lines which unfold the most irrational and paradox qualities.

 

The shape of a circular loop with the line round in cross-section is fixed and decided in an instant before I even begin to carve, and there are no surprises or changes of mind in the process of production. But the work with the cubic volume is completely unpredictable- it appears to emerge from the volume itself; potential new shapes and relationships 'mushroom' along all the edges, and I constantly have to make choices between many possible forms and leads.

 

The circular loops spring - in an unplanned and most spontaneous manner- from my mind; the square / cubic shapes spring in this same manner from matter itself. 

 

It is strangely contradictory that the 'irrational' circular loops should be the far more definite and fixed things in the process of 'production', and that the seemingly rational and measurable cubic volume should emerge in this boundless and irrational / incomprehensible way. As a result the work with the cubic volume has made it much more difficult to say when a work is finished. Examining the cubic volume itself is like crossing a border behind which objects - as complete and finite things- do not seem possible. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vajra / Dorje 

at Swayambuh

Kathmandu, Nepal

*I Ging,

Hexagram 1 The Creative

"The symbol of heaven is the circle, and that of earth is the square. Thus squareness is a primary quality of the earth. On the other hand, movement in a straight line, as well as magnitude, is a primary quality of the Creative. But all square things have their origin in a straight line and into turn form solid bodies. In mathematics, when we discriminate between lines, planes and solids, we find that rectangular planes result from straight lines, and cubic magnitudes from rectangular planes. The Receptive accommodates itself to the qualities of the Creative and makes them its own. Thus a square develops out of a straight line and a cube out of a square. This is compliance with the laws of the Creative; nothing is taken away, nothing added. Therefore the Receptive has no need of a special purpose of its own, nor of any effort' yet everything turns out as it should. Nature creates all beings without erring: this is its foursquareness. It tolerates all creatures equally: this is its greatness.

 

Therefore it attains what is right for all without artifice or special intentions.

 

Man achieves the height of wisdom when all that he does is as self-evident as what nature does."

“...for nothing ever enters into our mind naturally from the outside; and we have a bad habit of thinking of our soul as if it received certain species as messengers and as if it has doors and windows. We have all these forms in our mind; we even have forms from all time, for the mind always expresses all it's future thoughts and already thinks confusedly about everything it will ever think about distinctly. And nothing can be taught to us whose idea we do not already have in our mind, an idea which is like the matter of which that thought is formed.” -Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics