Friday, June 28, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Studio June 2013

Zen Gardens

Gardens are another example of our need to make a site to meet our sensory, emotional and mental needs.  I find the cultural history of gardens interesting.

Many years ago I worked at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  Most days I ate lunch in the Zen Garden.  The image below is a shot of the garden. The images that follow were found on google images.

Photo credit to The Garden Tourist.  Link here.

Hmm...finding that the representation of the human figure is common in belief systems.  Our need to believe, find answers, is represented by a human who is in charge/oversees/makes things happen.

Venus of Willendorf, limestone, 24,000 B.C.E. - 22,,00 B.C.E.
Scholars interpret her as a fertility symbol.

Some bits of history from wikipedia:
Muromachi Period in Japan took place at roughly same time as Renaissance in Europe - political rivalries, flourishing Japanese culture (tea ceremony, shin, zen garden).
Zen Buddhism introduced into Japan end of 12th century.
Original gardens at temples represented Chinese gardens (lakes and islands).
14th and 15th century - gardens designed to stimulate meditation.
invention of zen garden connected with Japanese ink landscape paintings (simplified views of nature).
Rocks - groupings, tall, vertical rock (Buddha), short vertical and flat rock (two attendants).  Also mountains
Gravel - raking for concentration, patterns recall waves or rippling water.

Source is Cultural China.   Link here

Image source is Katie in Tokyo.  Link here
The link between Japanese gardens and ink washes is interesting.  I separated to analyze.
Drawings - an illusion of the landscape, to look at when not in/near garden.
Gardens - organizing space, tangible, experiencing the physical sensation of touch and sound, creating tangible symbols/narratives (rocks, gravel, height, arrangement).

Healing Machines

The need that we have to make environments intrigues me.  Whether it be the work of one person, with their own rules, or the work of many people who are following a plan.

"In the early 1960s, Blagdon built a two-part shed behind his house. The small entry served as his workshop and the larger space behind became an increasingly dense environment filled with his creations. He illuminated the site with strings of Christmas tree lights and hand-painted light bulbs in coffee can fixtures attached to the floor. Inspired in part by having watched his parents die of cancer, Blagdon worked for nearly thirty years on sculptures and paintings he described as Healing Machines. He didn’t consider himself an artist. Instead, he was fascinated by electricity and what he saw as its potential for healing at a time when “electropathy” was widely sought as a form of alternative healing. He believed that through the complex and diverse materials in the shed he could channel the powers of the earth, with the potential to cure various illnesses."  - from Emory Blagdon, Healing Machines by Mark Karpel.  Source is Spaces.  Link here

Grotto of Redemption

Fr. Paul M.Dobberstein (1872 - 1954), West Bend, Iowa.
Encrusted in $6 million worth of semiprecious stones.
NPR article on Dobberstein.  Link here.
Also, Fantastic website that lists this site and many others.  Link here.

Ritual and Site

Why the need for site and object?  Objects serve as symbols for stories – stories are the belief system – objects acknowledge the belief system.  Is it the person/people who formulate the belief system that use site and objects as control?  Or is it our human sensual need for touch and seeing that that require we have something to hold, something to look at, a place to be?  Conclusion – I am interested in both aspects – how/why we make our own significant moments and how/why we buy into those that are set up for us. Also, our need to mark space and time. 

A bit of notes from looking around on-line:

People need rituals to mark passages of life and death. 
People need to go somewhere and do something to mark a loss or celebrate the new.  
Objects (souvenirs to be kept in remembrance of event - need tangible to remember - later photography becomes object) or objects used to perform ritual.  Space, gathering site needed to mourn or celebrate.  Marking the passage of time.  Recognize emotion.  Gather together or alone. 

Rituals mark the passage of time.  Birthdays, anniversaries.

Leaving coins on a grave - originates from Greek Mythology, paying ones way to a resting place in the under world Hades, place coin in mouth, no coin and you were left to wander and haunt in the upper world. 

Coins then moved to be placed on eyes, then feet and then grave.

Burial customs of Romans:
-The soul thought to need provisions in afterlife, ground above tomb a garden so spirit may wander about and enjoy.  
-Cenotaph - an empty tomb for someone who died at sea, the need to mark a space, the need for a site and the tangible.

Inhumation begins Paleolithic era.  Practical or esoteric - it is unclear.  Later peoples believed humans formed out of the earth, so possible giving back to earth was significant.

Interesting bits of info the above book.  Read for free on google.  Link here