Mysterious Island [Harmonices Mundi]

I owe the discovery of the Mysterious Island to a paradoxical conjunction of painting and music.

William James, the 19th century philosopher posited over a hundred years ago that in order for evolution to proceed, consciousnous was a necessary ingredient at the origin of everything. Contemporary physics, anthropology, and linguistics demonstrate that we live in a participatory universe and the notion of people as casual observers is illusory. The very act of creating a landscape can soon find itself occupying the space it seeks to frame. The dilemma this paradox poses for landscape painters has revealed a relationship between the landscape and the methods used to record it. In order to speak of these places, I must first start with a set of memories and then work towards the dichotomies that form their natural conclusions: such as how the notion of "wilderness" contains within it the notion of "containment" and how a reverential depiction of nature depends on technique, and this in turn reveals that I have created nature in my own image. Accordingly, I try to imbue the picture plane with what makes nature potent, mysterious and ultimately untamable while at the same time making manifest an awareness of this view of nature as a product of my own mythology.

I don't find it hard to believe that the arrangements of certain fractal algorithms could give rise to the design of a broccoli or perhaps the arrangements of particles and mathematical equations could combine to net the experiences of eating a strawberry. But could a Geometric order or an arithmatic progression somehow come together to create a temporal science of movement? Studies conducted recently generating sound clips out of data from the universe have revealed music coming from our own solar system. Mark Whittle, the astronomer at the University of Virginia first figured out that these sounds created a symphony starting on a major chord and then subtly transforming into a minor chord. A musical note was also detected coming from the Perseus cluster of galaxies. It so happens that a supermassive black hole emanating a sound wave with an unbelievable amount of energy for the past 2.5 billion years turns out to be in the key of B Flat. The maximum angular speed of the Earth as measured from the Sun varies by a semitone or a ratio of 16:15, from Mi to Fa. The Earth sings Mi, Fa, Mi. Johannes Kepler proposed that at very rare intervals all of the planets could sing together in a 'perfect concord', but this may have happened only once in history, perhaps at the time of creation.

6.25.09: While having dinner some six months ago, further insights began to recently take hold while recalling a discussion of the Anglo-Irish terms for rain in the Scanlon-Fraher villa at Doonflin Upper Skreen, County Sligo. Lashing with rain, while considered quite optimistically a soft day, it could be associated with a quarter note or an eighth note. At the same time while a driving deluge called a 'pissing' rain could be associated with a half note and at times a whole note depending on the availability of space and musical feeling. It seems as though the term of a 'pet day', though pleasant and desirable, is a different musical idea. This particular situation is notated in a space usually associated with empty staffs punctuated with full rests. Depending on the time of day, the nature of the landscape, and dynamic understanding, it may be stylistically indicated by pianissimo pp or a very soft vibration, while an ff or fortissimo is assigned to a very agitated space. These dynamics and notations are meant to be understood as a reference to an understanding of the space as a whole. Though these indications are derived from Italian words, they were also adapted and modified to become further abstractions. [All of this was researched in English while reading the landscapes in Sligeach.]

1.22.10: Recent discoveries have proven that Medieval philosophers were not speaking metaphorically when they were referring to the "music of the spheres." In The Harmony of the Worlds, (1619) Johannes Kepler presents a treaty on physical harmonies and motion. It so happens that there is a congruence of geometrical forms and physical phenomena. The "Third Law" of his harmonic proportions compilation states that 'the ratios of the speeds of planets on neighboring orbits approximate musical harmonies'. In 2000, scientists expanded on this idea of a cosmic rhythm by discovering a heartbeat connected to a 16 month cycle deep inside the Sun and is related to and influences the 11 year Solar cycle. Scientists from NASA's Ulysses mission have proven that sounds generated deep inside the Sun cause the Earth to shake and vibrate in sympathy. Team members of the HISCALE experiment, on board Ulysses recently presented evidence that proves that the Earth moves to the rhythm of the Sun. This year the European Space Agency just recently announced that the "Earth's magnetic field, atmosphere, and even voltages induced on ocean cables, are all taking part in a cosmic sing-along."

- Don Pollack