I had a notion that an old Philips Valve Radio was a portrait of the creative individual – trying to tune in to the Creative Background Signal of the Collective Cultural Unconscious.
My thinking was that the medieval tradition that art was received from the Prime Creator, God was a needed humility to Vasari’s Rennaissance notion of individual creativity which unbound had led to ego-hubris of the artist.
Not to say it was untrue, just that too much weight was placed on free-will and inspiration came from some other place.
In practice the difficulty was getting the ‘reception’ right, tuning-in and becoming a less imperfect vessel to work with the form of the Beautiful.
A Greek muse, a radio tuning into God’s station, balanced on a pile of empty medicine bottles and then two blackboards – upon which would be written some text about the balancing the Dionysian and Apollonian forces of chaos and order, treading the liminal edge between ego and id, the state at the edge of sleep, where lies the fount of inner wisdom and when one could hear most clearly the muse. A knife edge that line, one the one hand prophetic creativity on the other societal disapproval and the removal of liberty from the unbouded mind and confinement to a Bedlam.
Well I was going to write something along those lines, but lunch-time.
While I was away eating lunch Paul Carter, newly minted Professor of Sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art, passed by. Paul was familiar with my work and knew I would scrawl something long and referential on the blackboards – as evidenced by the many erased previous Beuysian mytho-poesies partially visible as erased chalky patina.
Paul Carter had a quick wit and on passing my unfinished exhibit was inspired by the empty black boards and chalked: ‘
by the intellect
This was so utterly correct and right, so neat and so much what I wanted to say without all the words and Classical allusions and Jungian Archetypes and Neitschian dualities.
So perfect a criticism and summation and fully prescent site specific concrete poem.
That I could not alter it.
So our spontaneous and inspired collaboration was shown there for the next fortnight of the summer of 1994.
From that I learned a lot.
Paul Carter was so very wise, so very tuned in – he could conceal great depth in brevity and humour with a light touch and a lighter heart.
A true zen master.