Can we shed all human perception to vicariously enter both our own planet of all-pervading life and the cosmic universe in which it is embedded? Fluidly, devoid of our silos and borders of self, community, beliefs, and values, can we enter mountain and sea, sun and star, flight of the firefly and silently shifting sands? Letting go of all that we hold as ours, our knowledge, our traditions, our cultures, our discoveries, our intelligences, can we enter a zone of sentience and observe, participate, and evolve within life anew? Then slowly, with the gentle wisdom of a dewdrop residing on grass, can we recover all that we know and have learnt as humans through this consciousness that allows us to be reflective inhabitants of a shared universe? What would it mean to turn inward to resolve one’s relationship with the earth and the universe through unravelling our shared bond of creativity? (Uhl, 2013). Does our cultural upbringing allow us to enter all life or does it close the door? Can we be free of it or is it inherent, subconscious, and intuitive? There is much to ponder when one unravels states of being porous through artistic practice.
The tree maidens - Salabhanjikas are a recurrent motif in Indian art through time, as symbols of abundance. I interpret them for their gentle intimacy they appear to share with life, providing us with sinuos flow of lines from one living being to another.
Corner (2016) emphasises the need for aesthetic training by discussing aesthetic ‘difficulty’ and the varied ways in which aesthetes encounter and engage with these moments of experiencing works of art. As he insightfully argues, ‘Certain kinds of artistic work require a greater degree of prior orientation and contextualisation in order to be appreciated than others, a fact sometimes neglected by those who believe that, for instance, the qualities of a particular piece of music, writing or painting will “connect” immediately with anyone regardless of their aesthetic biography to date. This is very rarely true’ (Corner, 2016, p. 3). In order to expand artistic research and inquiry, it is essential to describe and expand notions of ‘aesthetic difficulty’ for the observer as well. In particular, cultural notions of creativity open the space for different ways of experiencing the world, diverse notions of being, and corresponding aesthetics. Symbolism, iconography, myth, metaphor, Indian aesthetics, and philosophy draw upon an intrinsic ecological consciousness, where nature is not necessarily an observed botanical reality but the interconnected flow of life. The creative process therefore stems from a notion of perception, where the artist experiences herself in all life, in oneness. Form, too, does not seek botanical realities, but a symbolic truth of being. Are these ways of thinking, being and making true for everyone who may stem from this culture? Obviously not! However, tracing this thread of consciousness through practice allows for a nuanced study of a lineage that goes back over seven-thousand years of human history. These intangible yet powerful links to ancient creative processes remain contemporary, relevant, and essential for ecological justice for all beings.
Philosophies of art, aesthetics, and consciousness are integral to an artist’s creativity and her ability to evolve aesthetic principles. Aesthetic principles often translate into art and consciousness. However, this process is not linear and hierarchical. This recursive loop of art, consciousness, and aesthetics forms the crux of the artist’s meditations on form in text, image or movement. For the artist, the creative process, the vision and its embodiment, is a performance rather than a final work of art. Porosity as a principle of consciousness, as well as one of artistic practice, is informed by principles of engagement that further delineate aesthetic principles and grammar of form. As consciousness expands, philosophy too opens up into creative paradoxes allowing the artist to revel in the creativity of the universe. In this unique relationship, and in light of traditional Indian worldviews, art becomes a celebration and reflective meditation, as well as self-knowledge or transcendence. Form transforms consciousness as consciousness transmutes forms, each constantly influencing the other in a recursive infinite loop. Both form and consciousness play with each other to touch porous states, and then move beyond it into the formless, a place beyond form. This is philosophy, yet strangely it is also art. In the words of Coomaraswamy, ‘Heaven and Earth are united in the analogy (Sādrśya,etc.) of art, which an ordering of sensation to intelligibility and tends towards an ultimate perfection in which the seer perceives all things imaged in himself’ (Coomaraswamy, 2014, p. 57).