I have always been a woodworker. Twelve years old oblivious to the fact that with every chip taken by my hand was also a letter set in type for a book on how to live my life. The religion, the process, the being…created for each other by each other and bound to each other as one.
These assignments are always fully intriguing as they are opportunities to meld personal ideology and methodology with that of existing and sometimes ancient ideology and methodology. An interesting relationship between the pursuit of avant-garde art and the past arrises. Is it possible? How can one be truly innovative by using methodology and ideology of the past? Does it even matter? Who is the judge? Questions sprang from each other like hindering weeds. Those questions marinated in my subconscious for a few weeks.
Having a prompt to create a work is something that helps in being concise. The concept becomes an integral part tied to form, function and aesthetic and ultimately leads to a more successful work. After a couple of angst filled and indecisive months spent packing my brain with Japanese art imagery something became apparent. The buddhist mandala was a frequently occurring image. It only took a few minutes of research to realize that this was what the project needed to be. A task towards enlightenment.
The history of the mandala is rich and varied containing deep figural and metaphorical intricacies. The intricacies are almost overwhelming to a westerner. Making sense of the metaphorical and figural imagery contained in even the simplest mandala would require a degree on its own. As mentioned before to answer the questions asked there needed to be a concise and simple approach. Deciding to focus on only a few mandala specific methods and ideals should lead to concise answers. Tibetan sand mandalas are created as a meditation activity in and of itself and when manifested used as a tool for meditation. The mandala becomes fully encapsulated by the mind, the tiniest detail can be called and referenced. Although not japanese the idea really resonated. The tool becomes the maker and the maker becomes the tool. It comes full circle. The creation of the work and the manifestation of that are one creating a harmonious blissful like nirvana ending suffering and giving validation to works created by such a doctrine. The process, works and creator are one and the outcome on an extrospective level may become irrelevant. In satisfying their duties to each other in accordance with a path towards enlightenment they will never be wrong, corrupt or irrelevant in respect to one another.
I lay in bed at night thinking about the day spent in the studio before that. Visualizing process, form and functionality if the case. Contemplating decisions made and decisions to make. Realizing that some decisions are best left unforced and set aside. As with woodworking you cannot have a forceful hand. The wood will not be forced it is to be worked, massaged, set aside, revisited and ultimately things will just fall into place. The point being, when problems arise in my life I should try and take a woodworking approach to problem solving. The project became very transitive and transparent. Clarity and validation that showed me what I had been doing my whole life was more than just making sawdust and something pretty. I was molding my being.
Starting with the center I worked outwards as instructed. Deciding what to cast in the center is an important decision. So I set the problem aside and absorbed myself with other works. Stumbling upon a gyroscope video online was, to me, somewhat divine in nature. Arising at a problem and contemplating a solution over a few weeks is different than forcing the issue. The answer usually finds you faster than you can find it. The gyroscope was a perfect fit for the center of what was going to be a three dimensional kinetic mandala. A tool, an instrument, used as a vessel to nurture meditation. A gyroscope is a microcosm of universal bodies at work. The laws it obeys are the same laws the universe obeys.
After that it was a matter of designing sets of structural and aesthetic support. Using my minds eye as a drafting board a set of “gimbals” was imagined. They are an integral part in the system. They house the precious center and keep it safe. When outside forces are enacted upon the gimbals the gyroscope or center is allowed to make adjustments to remain in a constant centered state with regards to its axis. Aesthetic embellishments were added to the surfaces in order to provide abstracted imagery of iconic deities and to add ornamentation.