Published on April 14th, 2014 | by Chris Campbell0
Energy Acquaintanceship: We’re All In It Together
Andres Amador uses a rake to expose wet sand on North Californian beaches during low tide. The result? Vast esoteric designs: beautifully intricate, and excruciatingly temporary.
CC: After finishing a piece you sniff out higher ground. From this vantage point you watch the ocean wash away your creation in appreciative mediation. I read, and really liked, the following sentiment of yours:
‘The only constant in this existence is impermanence. In the end, our lives are about the experiences we’ve had. Not the things we have held on to. And in the face of our own certain erasure the act of rallying forces on behalf of creation and beauty is a declaration in the face of a seemingly indifferent ocean of reality.’
So what advice would you give regarding how to accept death/endings with an elastic, courageous mind?
AA: I think the first thing is to accept the reality of our mortality. There is no escaping the incoming tide. That’s a scary awareness, and can easily lead one to seek solace in trans-worldly beliefs like the afterlife. And as long as that doesn’t take us out of our earthly experience, then it’s a fine place to find comfort.
However, all too often the afterlife is used as a way to escape the life we have on earth. This does life a disservice. If one takes the view that this is the only life you have then it really focuses you on the question: ‘what are you doing with experience?’
This has been a constant thought for me as I’ve navigated my own life. For a period of time I was working at a bank in the IT department. I was temping, and after six months they offered me a full time position. I turned it down as all I felt was how much I hated the day-to-day experience, how I yearned to be outside, and how much I wanted to control the flow of my life rather than report to an external entity.
Once I came to the place of valuing my experience as it was happening the next step was to confront the fear of death. There are ceremonies that ancient peoples would (and still) do that have one confront one’s mortality. Really they are having us confront our fear of our mortality. We can die, we will die. There are no guarantees. Security is a myth.
These are stark statements. And if one can say them and still feel strong and happy then one has passed the test.
So what exists on the other side of this morbid recognition? That the life we are living is all we truly have. This is where the next level of disconnect kicks in, as so many people are unhappy with the flow of their lives. This is the main cause of drug abuse and TV/video game check-out.
To exit these purgatories a person must take responsibility for the experience they’re having. This can be an overwhelming undertaking as we can feel helpless and tossed about by the tides of fate. Or, we can simply feel swallowed up by all the details dictating how our lives must be. That we must make money in order to have a house, insurance, a car, nice clothes, etc., etc.
These preoccupations don’t angle us toward what feels good to the soul, and so we end up sacrificing our experience in order to have security. Once we are deep in the life we have created and realize the dissatisfaction, it can feel too late to do anything about it.
But it’s never too late to take ownership of a bad experience. And taking responsibility for its existence begins to turn the tide. Bit by bit, if one makes choices courageously, a way out appears.
And when one is living fully, when one’s existence feels satisfying, death no longer has the power it once did. From this place, the knowledge of one’s mortality acts as a galvanizing force, strengthening one’s resolve to act toward the upward movement of one’s experience.
The art on the beach is a symbolic act. Why do I do something that is destined to imminently wash away? When one recognizes that in the vastness of time nothing we can do will last, that even the pyramids will fade, the question becomes why wouldn’t I spend my time creating beauty and feeling good?
There is no goal I can strive for that will bring me as much as the experience I am having. This doesn’t mean I don’t go for long-term goals. But it means that in striving for those goals, as in striving for completing an artwork and photographing it before the waves come, that I feel good about the voyage, for it is entirely possible that what I was reaching for will not work out.
CC: Did your creativity sprout up in childhood in any comical or unusual ways?
AA: I once thought I could make some super liquid by mixing together household cleaners. I put it in the fridge thinking it needed to stay fresh. That didn’t go over so well with my father who thought he could drink it, but thankfully he took a whiff before having a try! Fortunately I was a poor magician, and nothing was blown up.
I was a Lego fiend back when Legos were more rudimentary, with limited sets. I would spend hours completely absorbed creating fantastical sets with elaborate stories. For a period during the mid 80’s I was an avid comic book collector, particularly enamored with the X-Men. During that time I was a role-playing buff as well, into sci-fi games such as Star Frontiers and Gamma World.
In the world I was a constant investigator, thoroughly exploring the city by bike and later roller skates. My activities were pretty sedate though, nothing that would hint at what I would be up to years later.
CC: Crop circles and fractals. Mandalas, moirés, and ancient architecture. These things have inspired your work. Why do you think our brains experience delight when encountering authentic mystery?
AA: There’s nothing like the unresolved to fire the imagination. Ancient works of architecture, the likes of which perhaps aren’t possible with today’s capabilities, force us to rethink what we know. It takes us off balance and causes us to question reality.
The human brain is an unparalleled pattern recognition machine. We make patterns from all of our senses and make interpretations. We also make patterns from abstract awareness and create stories with those as well. It is how I can look back at my life and see the connecting thread of how I experience myself to be.
Geometry and fractals are pattern made accessible. In nature, pattern is chaotic. I imagine that ancient people found comfort in pattern that felt understandable and trans-worldly. For them geometry was a way of seeing through the eyes of god, for the perfection it offered wasn’t found in the natural world.
I think humans are coming back to our origins, and beginning to once again appreciate that which cannot be fully known. Fractals are being incorporated into computer graphics and architecture. 3-D printing is allowing for the creation of things never before possible.
It is not a microscope image showing a set of spores. It is not fossil pollen or a biofilm of microbes. It is just the result of iterating a mathematical expression in the Complex Plane. Images by J. Gabas Esteban.
CC: You have never measured your pieces, but judging from the size of people in them they can cover nearly 100,000 square feet. As you work does your imagination zoom out to a bird’s eye view? What’s your headspace like when you’re in the groove?
AA: Our normal sense of scale is based on human proportions. So there was a necessary adjustment when I began making my art. An intuitive sense had to be overcome, and reoriented, to work at this extensive scale. On the ground thick lines might look quite thin from high up. Meticulous details may look incoherent from above.
As for keeping things together at such a scale it’s as though I am feeling the placement and balance of different components over the area I am working. I recently began using a remote controlled helicopter with a camera allowing me to take photos from really high up – up to 700 feet high. So the instinctual approach I’ve developed over the years is now being recalibrated to work with an even greater scale.
CC: Your proclivity for playa art was awakened while exploring body-oriented disciplines such as martial arts. How did these practices beget your art?
AA: It was while learning to fire dance with a long staff that the awareness of energy began to come to me. I began improvisational contact dance, which is a blending of aikido and modern dance. It is like peaceful martial arts…in that no one is defending themselves, and no one is attacking. It is simply the exchange and play of energy between two people.
It was while engaging in this improv contact that my awareness of physical energy peaked. I learned what was possible through it, how to navigate it. The awareness permeated my being and affected the way my art expressed itself in terms of movement of energy in my composition. I began to feel it in a visceral way.
CC: Ember Dequincy. She seems like a cool lady. In what ways is she integral to the endeavor? What are your guys’ senses of humor like? And what other hobbies do you guys have besides having a ball on the beach?
AA: Ember is super cool in a totally down-to-earth way. She is sassy and sweet and has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever encountered. It is a blessing to experience working amazingly as a team. She is a frequent and valued assistant on the beach, and an essential part of the planning and management side of the art.
Increasingly I am finding her to be a guide in the direction of the art as a business, always being a voice for us to follow our hearts rather than the money. Which is important, as I am facing the reality of a soon-to-be-born child and am feeling the provider instinct more and more.
Humor-wise, we are complete goofs with each other. She is really good at not taking herself seriously, often making fun of herself, and has helped me be in that space too. We laugh often, at the frequently ridiculous world around us, at silly situations, at ourselves.
For hobbies we are very well matched, both of us loving to hike and backpack, adventurously exploring new locations, inquisitively examining whatever catches our awareness. We love to play games and engage others in a semi-competitive challenging way, and almost always carry a bin of games in the car wherever we go for spontaneous matches (no board games!).
CC: What is your dreamscape like? And what part does dreaming play in the human experience?
AA: For years I have been trying (more like desiring) to be able to lucid dream. It is so appealing to think I could explore whatever I wanted while asleep. So far that is not in my conscious reality. My dreams tend to be abstract and amorphous. Some are vivid and direct, but do not necessarily offer me direction, or at least not that I am aware of.
My waking daydreams feel more connected to my direct experience. I dream possibilities and directions, drawing together various influences that have passed through my experience. Dreaming, if defined not strictly as the visions one has while sleeping, is absolutely fundamental in the human experience. Dreams are the groundwork for inspired reality. They provide us a direction to move that may perhaps defy the scrutiny of logic, but offer uplift to the soul.
Dreams offer us energy, providing vigor to move forward in the face of the inertia of reality as currently experienced. If we couldn’t project into possibility, if life were based solely on the rational and directly achievable, I feel it would be a lot less rich (although we may not know that, I suppose…)
CC: What is the evil version of you like?
AA: The evil version of me is sarcastic and cynical and doesn’t care. The evil me is a ‘frat boy’ who just wants to go ‘wooo’ and have a good time without concern for the impact. He is unconcerned about the world around him or the feelings of others, and so feels free to do as he pleases. This version might make artwork that is meant to be in-your-face, a challenge, without the invitation to participate in it, without reaching out across the aisle.
CC: You are thinking of relocating to the deserts of Utah. To be part of an intentional community that aims to bring sustainable living to the world. Cool! What new avenues do you foresee your art taking?
AA: For a time we were participating in an effort to form a community in Utah. It was very exciting. We left the effort a year and a half ago, as it was still not actual, only virtual, with no land to go to. Instead we set our bags down in a more humble, but in many ways more realistic and relatable, budding community consisting of just another family and ourselves.
During the time I was seeing myself as committing myself for life to this other endeavor, I was projecting that the art would transform to engage the landscape that the new location would offer. The proposed property was within easy walking distance of Pink Coral Sand Dunes, a gorgeous location that could have offered very interesting directions for the art.
Pink Coral Sand Dunes, UT. Image by Tikhman.
CC: What parts about living in an intentional community interest you?
AA: The things I appreciate so much about it…a sense of connected destiny, a coordinated effort at mutual support, a feeling of being held emotionally, psychologically, and physically by a structure larger than myself or my primary relationship. We sweat together and celebrate harvest and each other’s successes together. I wish I could be there more, but work has had me traveling and away from the farm more than I was anticipating.
CC: And lastly, to steal one from the great James Lipton…if heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
AA: ‘Niiiiice!’ (with a big smile and high five)
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