4 November 2012
Art and Design, Media
art, conversation, creative, creativity, design, drum and dance, graphic, graphic design, invention, prototyping
One of the things I’m learning as a designer is how important it is to make things. Make anything that comes into your head. Make it if you think it’s going to be bad. Make it, because even the failures — especially the failures — will teach you important things.
This is just a silly meme. It’s serious and funny and insightful all at the same time. And yeah, it’s dumb.
But I made it. It’s here. You can think it’s dumb or you can think it’s powerful, or you can groan at how mediocre it is.
But I’m farther up the learning curve of design because I made it, than someone who didn’t. And that’s a powerful insight all its own.
20 October 2012
Art and Design, Magic & Spirituality, Media, Palace of Memory
22nd mansion, astrology, design, learning, memory, palace of memory, prototyping, visual thinking
Today and part of yesterday, the Moon was in the 22nd Mansion: Fortune of the Sacrificers.
This is supposed to be an auspicious day to flee intolerable situations and difficult circumstances, and to break free of limitations. The name of the angel is actually Geliel, and I think the sigil or image turned out pretty well: it shows the interplay of Mercury, Venus and Mars forces pretty well, I think.
I wanted to work on this art project. But I don’t have a whiteboard at home. So I made do with a notebook. Here’s the 22nd mansion of the Moon: Geliel, the angel appointed to watch over swift escapes, ends to intolerable situations, rapid changes, and liberation from constraint.
I thought long and hard about drawing this image and then had a brief chat with a friend, who reminded me that I’m not charging the image, just making it.
13 July 2012
Art and Design, Media, Philosophy, Professional
design, images, prototyping, sketches
So… Here what I was getting at yesterday. This Decan could have been a warrior, or that falcon-headed man I did earlier, that wound up looking like a pigeon. Instead, I went with a combination of the Hindu, the Picatrix and the Agrippa description. (I’m deeply indebted to Ben Dykes for his list.) We have a pair of arguing petitioners in front of a judge. The judge’s throne has the head of Horus upon it, and the lance and the pitcher and the hanging bird are around the judge’s throne. So a lot of the symbolism of many different cultures wind up being framed within the image.
But I think about the underlying story for a moment. So many of the images are warriors or lords or monsters. But this one, as it turns out, winds up being an image of mediation and the solving of problems through communication and the objective sense of a third party. Rather than resorting to weapons, these angry petitioners are being heard in court. As with the merchant in another image, which has the potential to become larger by the addition of multiple symbols, the story here becomes larger by the addition of multiple figures.
And I think that’s kind of the point, actually — the thirty-six decans have variant meanings because as humans we need variant stories. We need a range of options to think through our decisions, and weigh our choices. And these images are not just a tool of divination — they’re also a way of communicating essential truths — going into business? Weigh your options, keep good books, pay attention to both income (selling) and costs (selling). Angry at someone? You can hurt them, sure. But you can also argue with them face-to-face, in front of an impartial third party as necessary.
I think I’m going to make a better effort to make the thirty-six decans tell those kinds of stories. Clearly, today, we need them.
12 July 2012
Art and Design, Philosophy, Professional
composition, creativity, design, imagination, prototyping
Not every picture is going to come out the way I want it to, the first time. It’s not possible that they could come out that way, after all. I imagine that people have drawn these images thousands of times, but they’re not color-by-number charts. I can’t simply point to this square or that loop, and say “paint this blue.”. There’s a process of composition, of outlining and finally of colorizing. Not every effort is going to work out right.
Take this image — the first decan is a man with scales, weighing goods in the market, and he wants to buy and sell. But it could also be a man with a pipe and a book. (I think the lance and the bird dangling by its feet is from the next image, and I misplaced it in the text). In other words, it’s pretty specific, but the composition of the image is complicated. My man is nervous; he’s interested in the scales, but the money aspect of it is less so.
I could reorient the image, though. If the point of observation shifts back about ten feet, the scales will be separate from the man. We might see the merchant’s stall, the pipe, the open book, and the scales. Instead of being staid and focused only on the scales, our merchant might be engaged in the commerce – the buying and selling – instead of just the scales.
The more I think about it, the more I think I should include elements of several versions of the Decans in each image. The Zodiac signs are very static in their representations, and the Mansions of the Moon are, with a few exceptions, mostly solitary figures. But these decans — especially when multiple image descriptions are combined, often reveal scenes from complex stories. The merchant is never just focused on the scale — he’s interested in customer relationships, in his (or her) book keeping, and his pleasures (the pipe) as well as his money. Making those symbols present in the image is probably wise.
11 July 2012
Art and Design, Palace of Memory
creativity, Data collection, design, imagination, information, planning, planning ahead, prototyping
I’m going to be away from my computer and most electronics for a few days. Don’t worry: I’ve scheduled a few posts to play out in the time that I’ll be away, so you won’t have to be without any discussion of the Kavad progress, and you’ll think that I’m not slacking off. The tai chi posts will have to wait until I get home, but I’ll take some detailed notes so that any insights that come to me during this time will be available on my return. It’s not that I’ve given up the practice, just that I’m going to be doing it in a place where the Intertubes don’t shine.
In preparation for this departure, though, I’ve been hastily using the Internet to compile data about the decans for use while I’m off grid. I plan to take my sketchbook with me, and consult with some of my fellow campers, about the nature of the stories each decan image tells. Accordingly, I spent a fair block of time today recording what the Hindus, ibn Ezra, Picatrix, and Agrippa had to say. My friend Nick also turned me on to another list, used by the order of the Golden Dawn, and included in Israel Regardie’s big black book. I’d forgotten the Decans made an appearance there, but now I’ve got another list to work from. Goody!
Some of my teaching colleagues are probably wondering, “what’s the point?” And I’d like to say again, if it wasn’t obvious, that it always comes back (for me) to having a languages, a model and a value system that makes teaching creativity important. Analyzing this project in those terms, I’m using my skills at research and my own skill at drawing to make something new. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or even great, to teach me something about creativity. It just has to be something I value and am willing to put time and effort into. And then it’s a source of teaching and learning about creativity.
5 July 2012
Art and Design, Media, Teaching
clearing confusion., confusion, design, kavad, kavad 4.8, prototyping, sketches
Ok, this is a quick post to show what’s been occupying my time the last few days. I’ve been reading up on the Decans, because I want them to be part of the Kavad… only, it turns out that they’re a ghastly mess of a system.
There’s evidence that there was something like a Decanate system in Egypt — thirty-six gods ruling over 10 (or sometimes 11) days each. The systems got exported to Babylonia, and probably from there to Hindu astrology, where it became hugely popular. Each face was further subdivided into three “munificences”, so that there was the Sign, and then its three decans, and then nine of these ‘officials’. The idea was that this was a spirit court of all the different layers of officials….
ANYWAY, it hardly seems to matter. Here’s the first Decan of Scorpio. None of the image descriptions from the major sources match each other. They’re not even closely related enough that you could borrow symbols from one and another to add to a third, to make a composite. And they’re all like this.
There’s three basic ways to solve this kind of mess:
1) Pick one person’s list, and stick to it.
2) Pick one person’s list, make that primary, and include a symbol or two from one other source’s list.
3) Sod it for a game of soldiers, and make a completely new list!
I’m unlikely to do #1 or #3… Option #2 is pretty likely. What do you readers think?
4 July 2012
Art and Design, Magic & Spirituality, Media, Teaching
creativity, design, design thinking, drawings, Image, imagination, kavad, kavad 4.8, prototyping, sketches
Here are the Decans (or Faces) of Leo. I’m not sure if I like Decans or Faces better as a word. Decans references the fact that they’re the 10-degree windows of each of the 30-degree Signs of the Zodiac; but Faces is more suggestive of what they are, which is images or pictures to help you remember their function, purpose and mindset. These used to be a lot more common in astrology than they are now; now only traditional astrologers use them, I understand — people like Christopher Warnock.
I think their main purpose, though, was probably as figures of memory in a Palace of Memory. By knowing the images or pictures, one could remember how to find that particular piece of information again. By distinguishing the frames from one another, by color or by image, a whole range of information could be conveyed to the viewer all at once. And THAT color could carry information, too.
I think my biggest problem is that the image descriptions are very, very figurative, and I don’t know if these are reliable or not.
4 July 2012
design, kavad, kavad 4.8, prototyping, research, Saturn work, sketchbook, sketches
I’m traveling today, and away from the kavad — but I find that I can at least do some of the reference work in a sketchbook. Today I decided to work on how I’ll present the Decantes.
The Decantes symbols are….
- A) very old
- B) somewhat confused
- C) appear to have no set names
- D) started Hindu
- E) passed through Islam
- F) got mangled in medieval Latin
- G) have different interpretations based on what the image is, which lost of names one uses, and which image.
- H) can be used as a list of memory images
- J) all of the above
Here’s some of the key data I’ve collected, in a sketchbook — the planet of each decan, and its original Hindu name (maybe) translated into English… and a sample image from the Decanates.
The sample image shows pillars down the sides of the image which could be painted in the relevant colors, column bases that could reference other positions on the kavad (activating its database-like functions), and triangles to either side of the arch that reference the data of the year.
The image itself is a composite of bits of the Hindu, Islamic and Medieval Christian images for the 3rd Face of Cancer, or about July 11-21. It shows a lonely man riding on the back of a turtle as his ship, the sail adorned with the rings of his wives. He carries a snake.
2 July 2012
Art and Design, Magic & Spirituality, Media, Philosophy
creativity, design, design thinking, imagery, kavad, kavad 4.7, prototyping
The pentagram, badly drawn, with eight geometric constructions, and nine roundels of mathematical formulae (eventually)
There’s a beautiful geometrical pattern that I learned from JMG’s work, that was actually in a book by Mark Stavish. Eventually that proof, I think, is going to go onto this panel as a nod to my initiaiton as a Freemason. For now, I don’t feel comfortable putting that proof on display — the discovery and rediscovery of such a proof is not mine to share, especially not in working photographs of a construction project. But the IDEA that there should be a panel within the kavad devoted to the issue of geometry, and sacred geometry — as well the “Blazing Star” of the pentagram, representative of the five elemental forces, and a tool for teaching the LBRP and other systems of energy work related to Hermeticism, strikes me as critical. No less, the five pointed star (correctly drawn, of course, not as shown here), reveals the principle of Φ — phi, the Greek letter representing the golden ratio, or 1:1.618… and so on. Including it large-scale in the kavad as a pentacle is a way of relating the Hermetic tradition to Wicca, to mathematics, and to concepts of natural beauty.
It occurs to me that I now have the five pointed star and the six pointed star both arranged in the Kavad now, and even though in an earlier post today I was dubious of the value of having the Cross in the center of the Kavad, maybe it makes more sense now to have it there. I wonder… can I get the star and moon of Islam in there too? What about the Om symbol of Hinduism? The yin-yang? Maybe I should just put a big “coexist” sticker on the thing somewhere.