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DESIGN THEMES & INQUIRY - Mike Fields Contemporary Sculptures
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Michael Fields Design

DESIGN THEMES & INQUIRY

I have always been curious and drawn to the deepest questions.  At a young age my dad presented two possibilities: The Universe had a beginning, or it was beginningless.  Neither seems palatable, which set me on a journey into the sciences and then into various philosophies to try to understand life, the cosmos, myself, consciousness, and human behavior.  I love to ask questions but am not easily satisfied with the answers.

My art parallels this journey of ignorance, curiosity and discovery.  My greatest fear as an artist, and perhaps as a person, was that I was mechanical, and it has been my endeavor to understand myself so that I could transcend this.

Observation

Observation is the basis for all human experience, including action, relationship, art, science, literature, religion, philosophy, etc.  This might seem obvious and not very useful, but I have found we take the most obvious things for granted and miss tremendous insights and value as a result.  The most valuable things can be intimate and immediate but are the most easily ignored.

Our senses bring the world to us and at times the richness of sensory experience gives us a feeling of completeness, but is generally quickly interrupted by the continuity of the mind.

Our perception is shaped by the content and nature of our thoughts and our thoughts are shaped by our perception. This creates a challenge to see what actually is and has even led to the abandonment of an actuality altogether.

How do we observe, experience?  Through memory? Through our judgments and reductive statements? Through our desires and fears? Through our insecurities?

We then act in the world based on our perceptions, understanding and take them as truth.  Our actions then create a world that manifests our fears, desires and insecurities.

It is worth looking at how we observe.

BEAUTY

We are all drawn to beauty.  But what is beauty?

Is beauty just appearance, or is it much more? Is there not beauty in a kind act; in the way we relate to each other? Is there not beauty in function, in immeasurable complexity and elegant activity of the human body, from our DNA to our brain? Is there not beauty in the fact that our galaxy and its star production depend on a supermassive blackhole at its center, that the stability of our earth depends on the moon and all life depends on the light and warmth of the sun? Is that not all beauty?

Is beauty in the observer or the observed? Does beauty depend on structuring, interpretations, and high-level opinions and preferences of the mind?  Or is beauty in the observed?  Perhaps beauty covers the activity of observation, encompassing both.  Is there not beauty in the very fact and possibility of observation?

Beauty has significance, tremendous significance. There is beauty in interconnection and interdependence.  We live in, and as, a cosmos that is threaded together from the smallest fiber to the largest structure.  There is beauty in our state of being — in silent awareness and presence. Beauty IS.

If something is striking, it has the power to suspend the mind. And when the mind is still, it has the power to see beauty in all things. The experience of beauty seems to be accompanied by a sense of significance, simplicity, sacredness and clarity. The observation of beauty not only shows what is, but also what can be.  What humanity can be.

With humility, I am exploring what beauty is with its sensuality, balance, subtlety, mystery, fluidity, simplicity, grace, and elegance.  My guide in creating is often ‘what looks or feels right’.  But where does this sense come from and is it shared, universal? Is it solely the product of evolution and experience? Or is a sense for beauty more fundamental? No doubt, much of what we speak of as beauty is relative and dependent, but is there beauty beyond the relative?

In the observation, the state of beauty, there is almost a compulsion to share in the state. I would like to share my observation with you.

Isness

It is my view that there is meaning independent of, prior to, our interpretation,  I do not believe that deep meaning depends on our minds articulation, rather, I believe that there is a much deeper meaning in What Is, in actuality itself.  A thing has meaning in itself, but it gains meaning through its relation with its environment.

We are so caught in words that we believe that something must be spoken about something in order for it to have meaning, but in most cases, the contrary is true. Our language is built on the premise that this means that and the whole web of symbolic consciousness is spun on this.  I believe a deeper meaning can be revealed through the union of observer and observed in the absence of language. My goal is to make this bridge and reveal simple and direct significance.

Simplicity

Can something be simple, yet compelling?  That is a question and challenge that inspires some of my current work. “Unity” is one answer to this question. It is a contemporary exploration into the simplicity of pure design. The piece’s goal was to remain simple yet captivating and engaging. Even something very complex can have a simple essence.

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” – Einstein (reduced form by Roger Sessions)

Absence

What a thing is not, is as important as what it is. The negative space that intimately envelopes a piece helps describe it.  In the same way that silence gives meaning to sound, stillness and emptiness give meaning to a thing. This applies to people too. Discipline and virtue are as much about what someone is not, as it is about what they are.

There is always a relationship between the thing and its absence. I try to give attention to the negative space created by a form and attempt to make this as compelling as the form itself.

Relation

A thing is not only its relation to its environment and viewer, but it is also in relation to itself. The relation of the part to other parts, the part to itself (its own form), the part to its absence, and the part to the whole, defines itself and the whole.  One way in which this expresses itself is through proportion and composition.  The viewer will feel satisfied if everything is in its right place, in comfortable proportion, while maintaining energy and vitality.

Nothing can exist in isolation.  Even if the piece is devoid of representational or symbolic meaning, it is still interrelated and interdependent on its environment and viewer, from which it gains meaning.  In this way the piece participates with the viewer and the viewer participates with the piece.

Complementary

I’ve always been captivated by art that exhibits opposing and seemingly contradictory qualities in a balanced and harmonious way.  This quality is also what makes people and life in general interesting. Underlying this is the principle, yin-yang

“Yin-Yang describes seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.”

I’m experimenting with keeping the following qualities in balance:

  • Sensuality – Strength
  • Stillness – Movement
  • Simplicity – Complexity
  • Softness – Firmness
  • Balance – Imbalance
  • Subtlety – Boldness
  • Ease – Tension
  • Independence – Dependence
  • Organic – Inorganic
  • Linear – Nonlinear
CHRIST FLEMISH HI RES

One of my favorite examples of the union of movement and stillness is this sculpture of Christ by an unknown Flemish artist.

Movement

There is movement. This is a fundamental truth.  My view is there is grand, vital, immeasurable flow and things and people are abstractions from this movement. We are not just part of this movement but are this movement.  This is where we reach the limits of language.

We mistakenly resist and ignore that change is inevitable. We imagine how things should be and deceive ourselves about how things are.  We attach ourselves to ideas and images of what is and then suffer as a result. The observer and observed are movement.

I enjoy creating work that is unpredictable.  I want a viewer to be surprised as they walk around a piece or as the piece rotates. We find things uncompelling if we can quickly and easily understand and conceive of them.  The same is true in relationship and in life. What makes life interesting is that it is not reducible. We seek spontaneity.  But we also seek stability. The stability is that things are as they are.  The surprise is in our discovering and experiencing of them.

Fracture Modern Sculpture Corporate Art Shards Glass Public 3

“Fracture” is a demonstration of this shattering of consciousness.

Unity and Fragmentation

Our world seems dominated by fragmentation, division, and conflict, which has persisted for millennium.  This fragmentation has its roots in thought, language, and specifically identification.

If one’s mind is ‘still’, this fragmentation dissolves. This is the place where the artist and viewer meet, as well as the viewer with other viewers.  A place of communion, where the cosmos opens and the viewer recedes.

I am inspired to see and share hidden unity behind apparent division.

Science

Observational and theoretical sciences act as a strong influence and have inspired representational pieces such as Convergence, Ribbon of Life, Radiolarian, Neuronic and Attraction.

Nature is the ultimate source of creation and observation is the basis for all the arts and sciences.  Recognizing this truth forces a certain humility, as an artist, scientist or human. I am excited to create more works that draw their inspiration from science.

Non-linearity

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I am inspired to see and share hidden unity behind apparent division



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