“ Viscera has questions about itself, ” says Elaine Cameron-Weir.

Since long before we had words to describe it, the art of making has been intertwined with metaphysical study and questioning.1 This fascinating relationship drives my investigation, Why (and from where comes) the need to create? By no means do I attempt to determine an answer, but rather continue the question. Through observation of scientific phenomena, anthropological and post-humanist research, and the application of practical yogic tools, I form new metaphors and insight to motivate my work.

I was raised on the religion of chemistry and a deep loss of ancestry. For most of my life all understanding revolved around the atom – from molecular potentials to energetic capacity.2,3 (As though enough study of universal law and structure would yield clarity and familiarity). A move abroad in my teenage years shattered any holding power of that mindset. No way could science ease culture shock or the intense dissociation that occurred upon return “ home” two years later. Every experience afterward has been imbued with a déjà vu more eerie then the Jejune Institute story. As Wachowskis’ spoon boy will tell you, “ Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth. There is no spoon… that it is not the spoon that bends, it is yourself.4 A strong brew of mental flexibility soup, and you can catch visions in the miso. In otherwords, the woven web of a textile is not unlike the matrix that surrounds us or the world-wide-web we build ourselves by coding. The Spider Woman of the Navajo knew it as she wove, just as Shakti knows it as she dances. “ We all make these fibers, tiny energy threads, from all over our bodies, all the time. We send them out to the world. They are radiations we make, our songs and stories,” Whitaker quotes Chea Hetaka.5 I am responsible for the creation of the veil. I have equal ability to weave and unweave the fabric of my reality.

First unweaving task, Cartesian division issues. I am reading Lucy Lippard for answers (she’ s telling me to look into the center) and I stumble upon Helen Chadwick’s Wreaths of Pleasure. Of particular curiosity in the archive of her notes is the definition of the erotic as “ the threshold where individuation breaks down,” in striving for union with another. She terms this “ YIOU, the I in YOU.” 6 No doubt she was reading Kristeva’ s The Power of Horror, “ abjection preserves what existed in the archaism of pre-objectal relationship, in the violence with which a body becomes separated from another body in order to be. When distinctions between break down, not only can wood become a table, or paper into money, but just as quickly; your body becomes flesh.7 This awareness of your own materiality can be an uneasy one, or beautiful for the same reason – it humbles any hint of our human exceptionalism. All matter is of the same (and we are back to the atom). “ The ontological refrain is that we always “ become-with” others, not only humans of course but all sorts of nonhumans as well. Nothing is barred from this co-becoming, including technologies, creatures, landscapes, and practices,” writes Haraway.8 Post-humanism thought validates a feeling in me I can’ t place, other than to call it empathy. What happens the moment you recognize “ another” as yourself, and yourself and other? This merging feeling feels at once homey and also large enough to get lost. I’ m holding an eggshell in the kitchen when suddenly I am the eggshell and the eggshell is me – it’ s certainly odd but impossible to un-see.

How do we filter and grow new [cells]? How do we absorb/understand/perceive? I walk down the path of involution (nivritti marga), and turn to study of genetic coding and internal architecture of the body. Like layers of an onion, spiritual, mental, emotional, energetic, and physical bodies nestle inside one and other.9 Translated from the Sanskrit word kosas, is “ sheaths of being.” The erotic key of empathy is synonymous with child’ s play and general creativity.10 Thus a degree of synesthesia is required for the cross wiring of senses (and sheaths) to see connections. Play is based on sensations blending with others and with vague meaning… symbolism not yet concrete. “ Language’ is communication… including kinesthetic semiotics, chemosensory, visual and tactile” modes of discovery.11




Footnotes
1 Ellen Dissanayake, Art & Intimacy

2 My father, in all his lab coat glory and shaman genetic code

3 Angelica Stacy, Living by Chemistry

4 Lana Wachowski & Lilly Wachowski, The Matrix, 1999.
5 Kay Cordell Whitaker, The Reluctant Shaman; A Woman’ s First Encounters with the

Unseen Spirits of the Earth

6 Eva Martischnig. “ Getting Inside the Artist’ s Head,” in Helen Chadwick, ed. Barbican

Art Gallery et al. (London, UK: Hatje Cantz Books, 2004), 48.

7 Adam Drazin, The Social Life of Materials

8 Donna Haraway, Sowing Worlds; A Seed Bag for Terraforming with Earth Others

9 kosas – pg. 141 Light on Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - BKS Iyengar.

10 Ester Perel – The Erotic Key

11 Donna Haraway, Sowing Worlds; A Seed Bag for Terraforming with Earth Others


AHNIKA WOOD, Photography Credit: Karina Rovira, Shaye Garrigan, Mario Gallucci