Transcript – Reed Hayden – Without Borders 2020 Thesis & COVID-19 Response

Okay so I have one of my latest projects here. This is an abstraction, it’s a wood carving. This image was generated through my research and through the models that I make. 

So what I’m gonna do today is go ahead and work on this a little bit, and as I do that, I’m going to describe to you sort of my process and where I come from  philosophically to arrive at this sort of thing. Okay, so while you watch me work on this carving, I want to talk a little bit about the context within which this work was developed and created. I developed this approach while pursuing my graduate degree at the University of Maine in Orono in intermedia, and one of the things I’d like to say about that program is that it helped me to understand that really the driving force in the creative practice is sort of the inspiration, so that I don’t need to, or we don’t need to concern ourselves really with a goal or where we’re headed for, but what we’re ultimately trying to do really is find our inspiration, and then follow where that leads and let it develop naturally from there. And in the case of the work you see me working on here, my inspiration really has been towards understanding the origins and implications of human consciousness, the sort of unique consciousness that we as human beings have developed evolutionarily. 

So in order to do that in my research I’ve looked into cognitive evolution, and as a result that’s led me to start to design and build visual models that represent a lot of these ideas about how our cognition developed and how it evolved, and again what its implications are for us today as contemporary humans.  And so as I modeled these systems, it helps me to sort of investigate and understand how consciousness has developed: Where it came from, what it’s doing now to us and with us and for us or against us. What the implications of that are. And as you can see the imagery I’m working with, or the results of these models are abstractions, and this actually does say alot about my findings and my mode of research, and what I am doing. It especially starts to tie into my Zen practice and Zen philosophy. 

You know, the abstractions sort of are an indication of the abstract reality that we find ourselves in that we’re are generating constantly through our own consciousness, and by presenting these abstractions in the form of art to be viewed by an audience, it allows it’s allowing to reflect on the nature of these sort of things. So certainly the viewer brings whatever they bring to the work, but there’s the opportunity for them to sort of experience them directly in the moment and sort of contemplate the abstract nature of them, meaning to understand them as they exist, as they are without trying to add a narrative, or decipher the code so to speak, or to sort of figure out where it all came from or what it means. The very fact that that information isn’t available to the viewer is the point. It’s the point that the work is creating an opportunity for the viewer to experience their own awareness directly unencumbered by concepts and ideas. 

So as I research the work, and I develop the models, and I work through the ideas and the concepts, and I practice Zen in conjunction with this, then I’ve started to realize that that whole idea, the whole process  of thinking and contemplating and stuff that it’s important, and it’s part of who we are as humans, and as I said before it’s our evolutionary inheritance. It’s simply how we’ve evolved, and how we’ve developed, and how we function. However, it ultimately doesn’t lead to a sort of great insight, and you know insight is really what I’m interested in. It is really why I pursue my art. 

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