Monday, March 17, 2008

The Making of "Hieroglyphics", the Movie

Click on one of the above images to preview "Hieroglyphics", a video art project, 2001.

By the time I began exploring video as a creative medium in my early 20's, I was single-minded in the pursuit of expressing the ethereal side of experience in artistic form.

It was not uncommon for me, while alone and free from the mundane concerns of the daily life, to slip into heightened states of mind that were full of bliss, lucidity, and feelings of being one with the world. Those who know such moments are also intimately familiar with the need to somehow share these states of mind with others, as difficult as that might be, given that such experiences are typically seated so deeply within the subjective.

Video art seemed to be a promising medium through which to communicate the ethereal qualities of my higher states. I believe it to be especially suitable because of the ease with which the moving image can funnel in the attention of an audience. When the essential purpose behind the work depends largely on effects on consciousness that tend to be subtle in nature, the immersive qualities of the moving image serve to enhance and magnify these effects.

My goal led me to seek imagery that was abstract and non-representational. Sequences of imagery that could not be interpreted, parsed, and scrutinized by the conscious mind can settle the intellect into a quietude, thus relaxing the viewer into a meditative state.

Furthermore, as with all my other creative pursuits, I try to move the audience at the depths, at the "level of spirit" one can say. And this is subtle work. Any distraction on the part of the intellect easily overtakes the vague movement, or resonance, of the spirit.

It quickly became obvious that the most readily available subject to film that was abstract in form and movement was water, an especially appropriate subject to film due to its inherent spiritual properties and beauty. That type of body of water which in my experience provided the widest variety of imagery was the stream, due to the complexity of factors which influenced the moving image.

After shooting and editing hours of water stream footage, I began to envision the possible ways of affecting an ethereal experience in the viewer. One night, having reached a certain level of maturity in my endeavours, something clicked inside me while I was video editing and, although I was entirely sober, I began to literally hallucinate scenes of water stream footage whenever I closed my eyes.

Each hallucination was a few seconds long, depicting its own unique combination of imagery typical of a water stream. Each scene was immaculately beautiful and perfectly arranged, as if I were being shown the highest order of the different possible stream footage that I could capture.

I expected the hallucinations to last only for a short while but I was wrong. They lasted throughout the night. I fell asleep and woke up many times and the visions always returned, always unique, always immaculate. It felt as if I were being trained on how to film and how to edit the perfect scenes.

I would like to make one point very clear. I had been an artist and a musician for more than a decade before I had this experience. I now believe that this type of assistance from the other side (whether it be from the unconscious, the Creator, the inner self, or whatever else) came to me because I had finally reached a high level of purity of wanting to help others, of wanting to show others the ethereal side of existence.

I had scheduled my next big video shoot on my 30th birthday a few days later, at a national park. When that morning came, I woke up drowsily to a golden glow in my room. Upon opening my eyes, I saw that the sunlight was reflected upon the closet in such a way as to glow brightly with a strong golden hue.

I got out of bed still in a sleepy state and I settled for a short nap on the couch in my living room. Again, I awoke to a golden glow, now settled in a radiant pool of light on the carpet, but this time it reflected gold on the soul of my foot dangling over the edge of the couch. This felt like a great sign of promise and hope, giving me much confidence and purpose. That day I went to the park and shot almost the entirety of the raw footage for "Hieroglyphics".

Click here to go to the video art page of my main website and watch various excerpts from my work.

These video excerpts are mere teasers of the full movie, running time more than 20 minutes, which is ideally watched on a large television screen, or projected on the wall at a width of at least 4 or 5 feet. If you would like to obtain a copy of your own DVD version, please email me at

Epilogue (or "now for something (seemingly) completely different"):

One of the curious aspects of my experience the night I had my hallucinations was that I also had some dreams that were very nightmarish, as if to complement or balance the privilege of beholding the beauty of the water imagery. One dream was especially interesting, in that I saw an image of myself with my flesh torn apart, hanging, not on a cross, but a structure in the shape of an "X".

Such symbolism further strengthens the analogy I discussed in "Black Holes and the Art of Transformation" between the nature of psychological transformation and what would physically happen were one to go into a black hole and out a white hole, which can be pictorially represented as an "X". In effect, the enormous gravity at the center of a black hole would tear one apart before one slips through to the white hole portion.

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