Last week NASA announced the discovery of a new supernova. "About 3700 years ago, people would have witnessed a new star
." Here, the Wampanoag would have seen it. It's surprising and a pleasure that with current technology we can witness the past exploding, taking on the form of a rose. This does something to me, something both marvelous and very specific.
On a basic level, art—as act and evidence—is marking my experience with time. Marking canyon walls with crushed red iron oxide tells time. Emailing a photograph of a supernova tells time. As does marking a giant stone with sharp rocks. Art creates lasting impressions of human action — instances of cultural imagination etched in cultural memory.
Without mark-making I am not without art. My body and mind, even when silent and motionless, are expressions of imagination. My 10 trillion cells are creators... Through acts of art, my imagination becomes expression, technique even technology. I use what the Greeks called the mechanical arts, ("techne
" definition) to share my presence here. My place becomes more mobile, voluble, multiple, lasting. But, I also use art to access meaning and actions not here: next door, around the world, in the future. The "not-here" in past, present and future is here through art. Happens all the time.
Even so, the past recedes from me as quickly as the future approaches. And, as the future approaches at the speed of life it is possible to live the future as it rapidly unfolds through creative action. I will finish this story. It will end. Sea-level will rise. I can imagine no stone walls on Martha's Vineyard, no lighthouses, no skunks. By being here "I" becomes "we," and we create our place daily. And, through our appreciation of place we use the marks people have made (creative and destructive) to craft and share an idea of where we are, have been and will be.
So, if imagination informs us, and one form of work is to imagine the future, art can be used as a technology to create a future-awareness of place. Assigning art as the tool of innovation helps us see around corners. Lots of people do this everyday here. The future lives in people who plan together. Planning uses technology, innovation and imagination—art—to solve future challenges. It is imagination at work. It sees beyond Stop and Shop, beyond oil energy, beyond people alone in old age...
Yes, these posts are a whir of references. I find life a mixture of fascination and fluster. Society, in all its tumult, flusters creation. The theft of billions of dollars, just to create a market
, does more than fluster lives. It is as traumatic as war, and as tragic. Yet, I spend my time head-up, knowing one antidote is shared creativity and mutual, cultural imagination. Art not only helps. As long as air, water and pressure create iron oxide stone, and as long as that red rock can be used to mark a cliff, art can free us to step beyond the fluster and the tragic to manifest new ways of living and to share insight. The evidence is everywhere.