On Building Imaginary Worlds

I just wrapped up a deep journey into past experiences in a story I wrote more than six years ago, it was a deep journey and I covered all of the essential frames of the story. The rest remain as storytelling exposition that wasn’t that important, so I finished exactly what I came for. I wanted to reapproach the past and come to understanding of my own mind and consciousness. It covers a lot of ground: social, gender equality, peacework, climate, queerness, ecology, biodiversity. It is its own imagined world, in many ways a rough guide to how I saw the world back then. I explored it with vibrational patterns of color, blended in ways I could never do in the physical space of painting, I realized I had to leave the original materials aside, and that’s when something happened, I realized I was almost in an emotional and physical state of movement, each record of motion in fast brush strokes that was almost a transcendental experience.

It’s probably something that could only be done with digital paint. I hesitate to call it a dance but it may have well been, it took over my mind in physical motion. Making worlds is complex, yet somehow natural. It’s possible that all we know is an invented reality, only transcribed with our limited tools of measurements and mathematics. World building isn’t something rarified, its methods are developed over time but we all have it. The ability to see is relative and natural to our mind. What do we know of the external world? Is there an interior or exterior, is all we perceive something we understand ourselves, and unto ourselves? I personally don’t believe that there is. I think that’s why I feel so violated when my art is misunderstood because I think it goes against the moral foundation of what art is. It’s how we, as artists, express our most vital truths, our ability as artists to describe our world in a way that we define as our own. Walt Whitman says this through poetry but I’m having this dialogue on paper as a conversation with myself, this may be what I’ve been working toward, a way to understand the mind.

We are each a sovereign country, and the most horrific thing one can do is take away our rights as individuals who create the work to express our perceptions. It’s silencing, and in each silence there is a kind of death, an unspoken, invisible dullness that wraps our souls in a shroud of the thoughts of another, it takes away our most fundamental language, one we know from childhood, our inalienable right to our imaginations, one that is forgotten over time. In the same way, Four Eyes was a record of a kind of childhood. I had just graduated the San Francisco Art Institute and there was kind of birth, my first steps back into the world outside of the monastery walls of its interior landscape. Back in the East Bay I started to make a zine, and I studied so hard, so much I may have forgotten. Long nights in the drawing studios, spending time drawing lines on paper and on a tablet, hard won classes on anatomy and physical movement, and a study of art going back to my earliest memories, and academic study for almost ten years, dropping off flyers in the east bay, having small art shows, it was my world, something I almost left behind.

Going back was like going into another world, and for almost three months between the first few issues, I was in that world, literally. I almost couldn’t think about anything else, I felt like I had to get back as quickly as possible, so I could add the dream sequence that was building in my mind. And that was when I realized I didn’t have to make it, the dream was simply through the liberation of color in my mind, past programming. At first, I was terrified, then hesitant, and then, immediately, into a sudden ecstatic state in my mind as a rush of color of all the panels. The dream was beautiful: it’s a state I’ll never truly be able to express. It was a deep travel into the world of my inner consciousness, and I communicated it past all the hate and misunderstanding, which violated and threatened my life and reality, a complete and total invalidation of the deepest realities and love in my human soul. When I look at these images as a series, in my personal view, I find the presence of something beautiful, it is perhaps Buddha, perhaps God, or some other name or combination. What does it matter, those are only words describing our perception. I’m not a theologian, but I experienced something I know for a fact, now, that art is mysterious and perhaps can never be understood, and in that I can always believe.

And that is why I’ll never stop fighting against the misuse of my art and misunderstanding. Because that, to me, is worse than death, it’s a complete and total invalidation of my rights as a living being, not just death but a complete erasure of who I am and what I believe. My worlds are my own inner home and reality, and the people I let in I invite in, and as Walt Whitman says, I sing the song of myself. No one can take that away from me. Colors do not belong to people. They belong to the world, and our own specific human perception, that’s how we understand the world, it’s not through some absurd and ridiculous game. In the last scene of Four Eyes, Tam removes their blindfold and saves their partner, in that way I rescued in my work my deepest beliefs and concepts. I have seen so much this week, my mind is on fire, and the record of that work remains.

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