Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On the Creation of Art

In 1979 while going to the University of Florida I decided to switch my major from Physics to Architecture. The reason for this switch was to better align my studies with my creative and artistic nature. The study of Physics did not present the opportunities that I desired to express myself fully. However, the study of Architecture held the promise of one day enabling me to apply concepts of structure and design to the creation of beautiful, functional artifacts that would benefit others.

While studying Architecture I also became very interested in meditation. My favorite author of books on meditation was Lama Anagarika Govinda. His writings opened to me a new way to contemplate symbolic and creative thinking. He became for me a great Mentor alongside my other great Mentor, R. Buckminster Fuller.

During the development of an Architecture project for school I decided to apply the wisdom of both of my great Mentors to solve the design problem given to me by my Architectural Design Professor. The design problem was to create a band shell for musical performances in an outdoor park setting. My inspiration was based on a natural shell geometry that "grew" from a progression of overlapping tetrahedrons of increasing size.

I wish that I still had the model that I built. However, I do still have a small plaque that I created that speaks of my design intent. On the left side of the plaque is my obviously Bucky Fuller inspired design intent.
"Superimposure of the 8 unfolded Tetrahedron pairs which combine in lefthand - righthand - reflected, macro-expanded, micro-contracted, equiangular - spiraling - layers, to form the ever-growing shell integrity."
On the right side of the plaque is a quote by Lama Govinda that still inspires me to this day. I have it displayed on my bookcase so that I may refer to it often.
"ART … while using the forms of the external world does not try to imitate nature, but to reveal a higher reality by omitting all accidentals, thus raising the visible form to the value of a symbol, expressing a direct experience of life."
This is my life's goal to create ART in the manner described by Lama Govinda while applying the Synergetic Geometric forms of Bucky Fuller.

Inspirational plaque by Thomas J. Greenbaum
After graduating from Architecture school in 1981 I came across a wonderful book Creative Meditation and Multi-Dimensional Consciousness by Lama Anagarika Govinda. This book became my "Bible" for some time as I immersed myself into a new metaphor of meditation and creative thought. I have the well-worn book still on my shelf.

Creative Meditation and Multi-Dimensional Consciousness by Lama Anagarika Govinda
The following quote from this book (page 134) describes the relationship between meditation, visualization and multi-dimensional symbols. It is the realm where all three intersect that for me becomes the space of creativity and artistic expression.
"The Buddha himself said that his teaching is deep, profound (gambhira), beyond the realm of speculation and world-thinking (avitarka, avicara), comprehensible only to the wise. The only way , however, to free ourselves from the tyranny of words and concepts is the imaginative method of visualization, or the replacement of our one-track logic by the multidimensional symbol. Even a strict science such as mathematics has developed a language of multidimensional symbols and visual formulations in which the position of each sign or symbol in the general context of a formula determines the meaning and value of each particular sign. The meditative experience of Buddhism developed a similarly intricate system of visual symbols based on archetypal forms or images which evolved from the depth of human consciousness and proved their efficacy through millenia of meditative practice."
Therefore, the creation of ART which stems from deeply inspired forms can arise from within the practice of meditation. Meditation is not the opposite of creation. Meditation is the ground from which creation manifests.