My life with Jóhann

It is a rare moment when I can fully reflect on my life and acknowledge how a single human being has significantly influenced my life.  But after almost 10 years of knowing Jóhann Eyfells, as an artist and a human being, I have finally managed to do just that.

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The art of Johann Eyfells is not an embodiment of the person but rather an expression of  something beyond the person, beyond the rational constructs of modern civilization that have shaped our physical lives. When you stand and face an Eyfells’ sculpture be prepared to be intellectually, psychically and spiritually challenged. You are about to enter a reality that is both unfamiliar and irrational. It is truly the unknown, seemingly chaotic, which most of us will avoid at all costs.

I have no doubt now, that Jóhann Eyfells is as nimble, precise and swift with his understanding of the cosmos and the physical world we live in, as he was in the ring as a boxing champion in Iceland. It is with this almost ‘supernatural’ agility that he is able to conceptualize and execute all of his projects, whether it is his collapsions, in which ‘time’ as an abstract concept is visually revealed, his cairns, his rocks or his multiple installations of ‘industrial made’ found objects of massive proportions, sometime weighing up to 14 tons.

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And let me tell you, when I stop to think how a 92 year old, whose body is as fragile as porcelain, can manage to lift and precisely position these huge rusted steel remnants of an industrial age past to satisfy his aesthetic compulsion as an artist, I am often left speechless and astonished.

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Yes, indeed, he often sees the inherent beauty of something that would otherwise seem obsolete and discarded to most of us seemingly ‘forward thinking’ humans, and that is precisely what these objects have become to him, beautiful expressions of human engineering and brilliance. Recently, they have become necessary and critical components to articulating to the world our often unsettled and sometimes fearful relationship with the unknown and irrational. It does seem ironic that he uses the very elements that not only embody the rational and physical world, manufactured tools and elements of the industrial age, like giant turbine propellers, to open our minds to the unfamiliar seemingly insane world of Eyfells.

As a true artist, he tirelessly challenges our tendency towards complacency, brought on by the comforts and conveniences of the industrial, electronic and now, digital age. I see him as the Don Quixote of the 21st century, tirelessly and against all odds, confronting the rational world, except this time he does not represent a tragic character that ultimately gives in to ‘convention’ and renounces his ‘insanity’ to become a mere shepherd. No, instead, he selflessly provides us with the opportunity to see for ourselves how collectively we can easily be allured by the deceptiveness of rational thought, that it is ok to embrace the irrational, the unknown. He is our new hero, without a doubt, and it will take us a little while to realize this. Its highly probable that he will not see this revolution of thought take hold before he passes on, but I would hope that he will bare witness to a larger audience and more global appreciation of his accomplishments.

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If WE are willing and courageous enough to allow ourselves to be immersed into the unknown and uncharted aspects of our intellect and psyche, I promise, like I have, YOU will in fact see the light and wisdom of Jóhann’s aesthetic expression and art, and as a result, be forever transformed.

Today, thanks to the insight I’ve gained through Johann’s work and vision, I feel I am at a better place in my life, simply because I am not defeated by the fear of the unknown. In fact, it is that fear that signals that part of me to move forward instead of backward, to take risks and ‘leaps of faith’. It is also through those ‘leaps of faith’ that I discover new understanding, not only of myself, but of the cosmos around me. I will certainly miss Jóhann when he is no longer with us, but his insight and joy of life will eternally course through my veins.        Written by Hayden de M. Yates

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Photos by Hayden de M. Yates and Ian Candler

To see the trailer of the new documentary film, A Force in Nature, go to the following link:  https://vimeo.com/135532487

The Opposite of Murphy’s Law

The life and work of Jóhann Eyfells is a constant reminder that “if something can go right, it will go right.” Since the first day I met with my friend Jóhann, almost nine years ago, my life has taken a whole new meaning, and for the better, without a doubt.

JEyfells2See this teaser, A Force in Nature (password: spirals), a feature length documentary film looking at the life and work of Jóhann Eyfells.

An insight from Jóhann – Light, Sound and Movement

I recently spoke to the artist, and as usual, I come away inspired. He called to say that he had some hopeful news coming from Iceland that some individuals are taking a keen interest in his work. He seemed optimistic that more and more people are beginning to understand his vision, “almost to a tee.” Personally speaking, in the 8+ years I’ve known Jóhann, I’ve seldom thought of him as being anything other than optimistic.

As always, he asked how I was faring, and how both my children were. He was especially interested in knowing how my own pursuit of a Master’s degree in Motion Picture & Television Directing was getting on. I told him I was inundated with the richness of academia. With regards to A Force in Nature, I told him we were in full post-production and we expect to be close to finishing.

He paused for a moment and then said the following: “Directing is understanding darkness, silence, and stillness.”  At first, I did not get it, but he proceeded to elaborate and said that “light is a consequence of darkness, sound a consequence of silence, and movement a consequence of stillness.” Because light, sound and movement are so fundamental to the making of any movie, I was now re-engaged, thanks to Jóhann, as I reflect on the role I am playing as a director of our film, A Force in Nature. In short, I was re-ignited by a man almost twice my age as I step away from my own effortless tendency towards complacency.

http://vimeo.com/52449621

password: “spirals”

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You Asked Me to Explain Jóhann Eyfells: In the spirit of “Receptualism” or “Uncreationism”

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Our Problem:  The Unconscious versus the Conscious. All great activities escape consciousness.

I assume it is a fundamental trait of human nature to desire an explanation when faced with something unknowable, or in other words to be comforted by something that can “only” be sensed. As an abstract artist in the modernist tradition, I generally shy away from trying to explain the “unknowable” that belongs to the eternal nature of all things. On the other hand, I am always more willing to make an attempt at unraveling the categories of an infinitely active beginning-less and ending-less continuum, which is always implicitly present in all creative manifestations. Additionally, and perhaps more fundamentally, I would also be more than willing to attempt to unravel and elucidate the infinite ability of “our” creative unconsciousness to reach beyond anthropomorphic concepts of symptoms and symbols, and thus try to penetrate into the obscure conceptual categories of the unconsciousness itself.

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The driving force and the only unifying factor behind all of the investigative endeavors as articulated above can be made more specific by the employment of the all-inclusive, yet radically dualistic and ambivalent term: “operational necessity.”

The reader will most likely recognize the term from the vernacular of industrial or military strategies, yet this expression has a much more immediate and radically different dynamic application in the domains of philosophy and art, the two domains where our use of the phrase, “operational necessity” exemplifies a momentary rejection of all established values. If we imagine two unequal and irreducible forces, one dominant and the other dominated in close proximity to one another, then what we witness at the very moment when they enter into a relationship is a necessary formation of a whole or an absolute birth of an “event” which cannot be scientifically verified. It is only to be observed and perhaps described. Thus our “operational necessity” serves no established patterns and is of the kind that contains no known causes (no know “WHYs”). This enigmatic, yet super-positive version of our quarry contains, however, a totally fresh “uncreated” and an almost esoteric essence or a will, which appears or turns out to be necessarily constituted by two irreducible halves, Chaos and Circular Motion, where oppositions do not exist. Thus our quarry becomes the “embodiment” of the impossibility of the existence of “absolute” wholes, but exemplifies instead, the ceaseless and absolute genesis of something. Again our “operational necessity” must thus be recognized as the thought of pure becoming a momentary creation and a chance occurrence. A specific yet unbiased “example” would be “THE THROW OF THE DICE.”

Furthermore, and concretely, the double meaning of “operational necessity” depends on whether we affirm our own difference (positively) or deny that which differs (negatively). Finally and most deeply, “operational necessity” is defined negatively as the ”affirmation” of established values and positively defined as the transmutation of all known values.

Similarly, the multiple phenomenon which I call “Singularicity” exists as a unique whole or being of sensation that cannot be measured or compared. It can only be sensed. It is the kind of complex unity that ideally would exemplify the union of life and thought, sometimes referred to as a “pre-Socratic unity.”

 THE ART

This is the essence of art. It can only be affirmed as a necessity of chance (i.e. as a creative thought). What occurs in the innermost nature of my mind as I imagine eternity or infinity is the concept of the (new) positive version of “operational necessity”, i.e. only the affirmative and positive kind as articulated above. I have no choice but to act in light of this joyful and profound event. Thus, I am attempting to express through my work infinity joyously announcing itself. Poets and great composers of music are pioneers in similar pursuits, and I would go as far as to say that this mode of being could become a universal human quest, entirely momentary and positive.

In reference to my work, the reader inevitably will be aware of a physical rupture of a continuum as is clearly evidenced by my spirals and even more so in my dissected cubes and rocks. And it is surely the space in-between that becomes a domain of revelations and that will elevate our perceptions. I strive to evoke a sense of an eternity of aesthetic invisibility into my pieces. It is my hope that this infinitely repeated aesthetic “something” is there as surely as are the support structures and the pedestals that I build to support each piece.

All authentic aesthetic feelings that are affected by a work of art must, ideally gain their tone meaning as the magnificent gifts from outside that I strive to portray. Much rewardingly, I have had people look at my work and tell me positive things I could never have anticipated. Occasionally, I have been elated beyond measure by some viewers’ reactions to an art piece I created, and of course, I have been moved in similar ways by the work of my fellow artists on numerous occasions.

 THE MOVIE

Does “exterior reality” sometimes feel like we are in somebody’s movie? Do you “almost” hear and see the unknowable script echoing in and passing through your head as you keep wondering what existence might conceivably be about? Does the unknowable leave you unsettled, feeling incomplete and skeptical? Don’t despair…confronting the unknowable is the concrete form of the human condition, and we must have total faith in and embrace this feeling of radical ambivalence, because it initiates the necessity of our faith in the world and that which becomes the fundamental source and cause of everything, a sort of a “womb” of absolute genesis or that which I call “only a birth”. It exists as the entirely momentary fact of living or the glittering “Being” of the flash of eternity. It is the inside of the inside, a version of infinity that wants to show itself. That is the “durational” movie you and I are in; a movie that is the highest functionary of what IS – a power that has the ability to instill in us as deviations/spirals, again, or eternally “once more”, faith in the world, and only new faith in living can re-join us to the movies’ script: “our” seeing, “our” hearing, “our” feeling, “our” loving, “our” creating, etc, etc. Embrace it! We (as dispersed absences of the origin) call it “Receptualism”. Welcome it!

I = M∞2

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