Daily Archives: June 20, 2009

Consciousness, Reality, and Dreams



ARTology investigates world models using aesthetics as a tool for observing and revealing consciousness in action. An essential manifestation of consciousness is the relationship between the states of mind we call “awake” and “asleep.”

After experiencing several spontaneously lucid dreams in my youth, I began a systematic study of the territory where sleep and wakefulness meet. I discovered that dream research, like much of the brain science that has developed since the 1970s, is based on investigations of both ancient and modern conceptions of consciousness that originate in both the shamanistic and artistic traditions. I decided to pursue both traditions as if they were one. And now, for me, they are.

As the craft of aesthetics, art is a method of philosophical practice. Art making involves personal inquiry into the nature of perception, apprehension, cognition, response, and behavior – in a word, consciousness. The fact that the work of both visionaries and scientists is illuminating the selfsame territory is only surprising to those who imagine the right and left hemispheres of the brain as presenting utterly irreconcilable world views.

The notion of a world view is at the heart of both “reality” and “illusion.” What is most revealing is that a world view is by nature transparent. We do not see it so much as we see through it. To become aware of one’s world view is, in some deep sense, to “wake up” to a new, more inclusive, “reality,” in which the old view is seen as a subset of the newer one. This process is a continually emerging one. It is an operational description of consciousness as an ever-evolving emergent process.

Art provides opportunities for us to wake up and/or to continue dreaming. And because it is a reflection of our inner and outer experience, art can be used as a tool for examining and revealing what remains as yet undiscovered along ancient and endless passageways of awareness.
Image: Chauvet Cave Paintings, c 31,000 B.C.E.

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