The Doors of Perception

Well, I've just finished the Aldous Huxley book, The Doors of Perception, and its sequel 'Heaven and Hell'.   This is a fascinating book that delves into the workings of visual system, the relation of the subconscious to religious belief and points out the sheer lack of understanding that we have of the subconscious and the workings of the brain.

This book was written after Aldous Huxley took Mescaline in a medical programme which was conducting an analysis of the drug.   He went on to write about the experience in these two books and wrote about his conclusions from this experiment.   

Follow this link for an exert from the book

The main thing that he got from the drug was a massively increased vibrant vision of the world.   He was amazed by the things he was surrounded by and seem the world in a new light.  He was fascinated by flowers and the metallic legs of a chair that was in the room.   He felt that many objects were imbued with an inner light and were all incandescent and more alive.   He also mentions visions of uncut gems, vast landscapes and gold and silver light.

Through later research he believed that the brain in its normal state acts as a filter to allow us to function in our everyday lives.   Through research he realised that the use of mescaline stops the flow of chemicals (namely sugar) to the brain that deadens our senses to allow the brain to work in an unrestricted way.   He also mentions that fasting, restriction of air, strobing lamps and flagellation would also cause a similar reaction in the body (which explains a lot of social and religious phenomena).

This book also covers many other areas of interest but really I'm interested in the visual aspects mentioned.   The beauty and visions that are experienced when the brain is starved of sugar has influenced culture and religion through the ages.   This tapping into the subconscious seems to have driven art and culture more than would be expected.   This has created our ideas of heaven and hell and has always been that unknown something that we see in good art.  

I think that more and more, to produce something meaningful in art, you have to consider the subconscious.   You have to find a link to the subconscious through what you make.   Also you need to create something that is more than just a beautiful picture but something that has more meaning at a deeper level.   Sometimes people speak about getting into 'the zone' when they are making some art.   I think that this is when you stop thinking at a superficial level and are really working on instinct or working closer to the subconscious.   This is also one of the main reasons why people make art.


Anish Kapoor

Went to the Anish Kapoor exhibition in the Royal Academy of Arts in London last night.

The whole exhibition was created for the Royal Academy of Arts and the rooms that it was going to inhabit.   So, the pieces were designed after figuring out the space, although some of the designs were based off of previous work that he had created.

So, the first thing is that the art on show seemed to have some kind of meaning behind it but it was not clear what this meaning was.   It was almost operating at a sub-concious level.   What I'm trying to say is that the objects on display were from the sub-concious so there was no direct meaning to anything but all of it just seemed to make sense.   They felt organic, as though they could have grown in nature and some felt as though they had some spiritual background.

The exhibition was also very balanced.   The pieces all had opposite piece that balanced them out.   For instance, there was a gun that fired red wax through a doorway.   On the opposite end of the spectrum, there was a massive mass of wax slowly pushing its self through the doorways of the exhibition.  
There were exact smooth sculptures that were made of powder, with bright colours and displayed in a very minimalist room.   On the other hand, there were chaotic messy sculptures, no colour and crammed into a room that could barely hold them.   The balance of the exhibition seemed as though it had almost happened by chance, although I'm sure it was all thought out.
Some pieces where all about the external, for instance the mirrors (which were really fun and amazing).   Where as other pieces where all internal and just showing a glimpse of what was inside.

Colours, textures, movement, use of space and internal and external were all shown here.   The exhibition pieces could be shown by themselves but almost needed to be shown as an exhibition.   This is sculpture at its purest form.  

Before I went to the exhibition, at work there was a debate about Martin Creed and his art.   I found his work terrible and mostly empty for me.   The old question of 'Is this Art?' is pretty tedious and not really worth asking any more.   At the Anish Kapoor exhibition, this question never entered my mind.   This is art.

I'm not a big fan of modern art in general, but Anish Kapoor's exhibition was amazing!