Monday, February 27, 2012

Emanations: Second Sight Cover Concept

Recently, Kai Robb sent me his draft of the cover art for Emanations: Second Sight. When he finishes the project, I'll post the art work here. In the meantime, here is Kai's description of his over-all concept, and the eight thematic image groups represented in the work:
The basic notions behind it stemmed from 'Emanations' and 'Sight', thus the repeated eye motifs -- each eye serves as the 'heart' of the smaller emblems within the main emblem, which is based upon Otz Chaiim (The Tree of Life) of Qabalah. Each of the Sephiroth of the Qabalah are in a state of constant creation, via emanations (a key word in the concept) flowing down from the Superior worlds into the Inferior worlds -- As Above, So Below. However, I've sought to strip much of the 'mysticism' in this emblematic version, and rather, attempted to render each sphere as a 'generative' concept. To give a basic idea of the corresponcence:

1) The seed/eye image at the bottom (physical life) - Malkuth (The Kingdom) - Earth

2) The lunar/uterine image above it (reflection, source of life) - Yesod (Foundation) - the Moon

3) The city section (organizing direction) - Hod (Splendor) - Mercury

4) The nature/trees section (chaotic growth) - Netzach (Victory) - Venus

5) The sun wheel at the centre (connection, cycles, link between the crown and the kingdom) - Tiphareth (Beauty) - The Sun

6) The storm above the city (motion, power) - Geburah (Strength) - Mars

7) The galaxy over the trees (form) - Chesed (Mercy) - Jupiter

8) The mouth - Da'ath (Knowlege) and the Abyss

The nautilus, the ammonite, and the temple between them represent Binah (Understanding), Chokmah (Wisdom), and Kether (the Crown), the Sephiroth which lie beyond the Abyss. These are the 'God spheres' in short -- and I chose to combine them as three-in-one, hence one 'eye' heart for the three of them -- although the nautilus and ammonite have eyes of their own.
After studying Kai's draft alongside his description, the only meaningful thing I might add (at this point) is that I am amazed he has been able to integrate so much into a single unified image. Some might raise their eyebrows and question the integrity of such an undertaking. "After all," they could say, "isn't this sort of thing merely the recapitulation of old concepts, and for the sake of suggesting something hermetic?" My response is to smile as if to convey some deep stillness, and then slowly and softly say, "Ah, well. But what does this question have to do with beauty?"


Friday, February 10, 2012

Yuko Nii’s Bridge Concept, an Illustrated Note

Brilliant gems of knowledge have been surfacing as I learn more about the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center.

In recent correspondence with Terrance Lindall, we have been discussing Yuko Nii’s “Bridge Concept” and the mission of the WAH Center to bring different peoples together by building cultural bridges that serve as a catalyst for producing social and economic progress. One of Yuko’s inspirations was the bridge that was figuratively built when Japan opened its doors to the West and America during the Meiji (“enlightenment”) period. Western ideas in education, politics and commerce found fertile soil in Japan, which subsequently, and with remarkable alacrity, modernized into a world power of the first order. Though the initial progress of the Japanese Empire is a controversial subject, there is consensus applauding the “second” modernization of Japan that took place after the Second World War--once again with remarkable alacrity, and producing a nation that not only emerged again as a world power of the first order, but moreover did so with a denunciation of offensive warfare placed at the center of its new political constitution.

Housed in the WAH Center, the Yuko Nii Foundation is custodian to collections of books, art, porcelain, kimonos, sculpture, rare curios, and other objects d’art. Among this vast archive is an original illustration of President Ford and Emperor Hirohito honoring Perry's world changing voyage to Japan. The illustration is signed by President Ford and the illustrator Lloyd Ostendorf. The 20th century's pre-eminent authority on Lincoln photographs, Ostendorf was also the most famous illustrator of the life of Lincoln.

President Ford and Emperor Hirohito honoring Perry's Voyage, by Lloyd Ostendorf.

A first edition, 1856, of Perry's voyage. There was one previous large format version presented only to members of congress. It contained an infamous nude bathing scene that scandalized the capitol.

An illustration from Perry's Voyage.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Williamsburg Circle of International Arts and Letters

Several weeks ago, I received an invitaion to join the Williamsburg Circle of International Arts and Letters, a group of artists, poets and scholars seeking to advance study in the humanities. The Circle is headquartered in Brooklyn, New York with the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center. Here I am happy to present the Circle's first press release:

For Immediate Release

February 1, 2012

In January 2012 the WAH Center created a new program called the Williamsburg Circle of International Arts and Letters. It is composed of twelve outstanding scholars, publishers, collectors, artists and innovators (see complete member list).

We believe that a strong education in the classical humanities is a fundamental prerequisite for good citizenship in every country in the world today. What is Classical Humanities? It is nothing less than the spiritual, ethical and intellectual foundation for Western culture. Classics is a vibrant, interdisciplinary field that lies at the heart of the liberal arts. It is the lack of a common heritage and common values that gives rise to basic conflicts among peoples. A broad education in the classical humanities can bring about a common understanding and a common set of values.

As many of you know, the WAH Center's motto is "Peace, Harmony and Unity," as Yuko Nii, the Founder, has written in the Bridge Concept upon which she founded the institution.

Invitation: We also welcome you to the very first of Our Events on April 14th, 2012 where you can meet our chairman Dr. Robert J. Wickenheiser, 19th President of St. Bonaventure University, and learn more about our goals and projects.

If you would like to contribute to our worthy goals, we would very much appreciate your support at our inception. If you are a scholar or artist and contribute $50 yearly as a supporting member, we will list your name with your discipline and contact information (and web-site, if you have one) on a special supporting member page. Click here for benefits.

We would very much like to get your feedback on our project!

Terrance Lindall and Yuko Nii
Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, Brooklyn, New York
It is very encouraging to be involved in a project like this. The Circle shares many of the same goals as International Authors. In fact, Dario Rivarossa, Horace Jeffery Hodges and I are members of both the IA Board of Editorial Advisors and the Williamsburg Circle. Nor should I fail to announce here that Terrance Lindall has kindly agreed to join us on the International Authors Board. I look forward to seeing dynamic manifestations of collaboration between the two organizations, and all good things to come.