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.

CHANCE

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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Redefining Art in the 21st Century.

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Jóhann Eyfells, a defyingly driven 89 year old Icelandic sculptor living in Texas, redefines the meaning and purpose of art for the 21st century. Art is no longer a commodity or something that is there merely as a status symbol or to satisfy a superficial aesthetic need. It has a higher more profound purpose, to reformulate human consciousness. It is there to remind humanity of its own eternal infinite nature that goes beyond time and space. As a young man in Iceland, he was considered to be an exceptional boxer who had never experienced defeat. He would win over his opponent not because he was stronger, but because he would be faster, infinitely so. Boxing provided him with a glimpse of a boundless universe in which everything traveled at infinite speed.

Through Jóhann’s penetrating insight and body of work, we can begin to catch a glimpse at an infinite and ‘unknowable’ universe that resides around us…in spite of our precarious fondness of the visible and physical world.

“Complacency is the unwillingness to explore the chaotic unknown and the undefinable, and resigning ourselves to the coziness of the knowable.” Hayden de M. Yates

Jóhann’s fiery loyalty and commitment had not always been limited just to art. At 23, he left his home in Iceland, land of fire and ice, to forge a new life in America, where he would eventually meet the love of his life, Kristin, also an Icelandic sculptor/painter, with whom he would spend the next 54 years.

Jóhann and Kristin, in their undiluted love for one another would both become consummate and masterly artists, each pushed by the other’s genuine passion and tenacious commitment to their craft, as an expression of humanity and beyond.

And here is some info about A Force in Nature, a feature documentary film due out in Spring or summer of 2013. The password is “spirals”.

You can join us on Facebook at Friends of Jóhann Eyfells
Twitter: @haydenyates

Take a look at a few scenes from our film below. Don’t forget the password:
http://vimeo.com/135532487

Rediscovering Kristin Halldorsdottir Eyfells

Kristin Halldorsdottir Eyfells

In Iceland, the day that you are born, you are somebody, whether girl or boy. Your family name is your father’s, however, Icelanders take it one step further and tack on your gender. For example, when the artist Kristin Halldorsdottir was born in a small village inland from Reykjavik, she was given the name Kristin by her parents, but her surname was “the daughter of Halldors.” Had she been a boy, she would have been named “the son of Halldors.” This clears up any confusion in communications as to the gender of the newborn child, a matter of extreme importance in Iceland. In the Icelandic language, there are different greetings for  males and females, nouns have gender as in German, and opportunities for girls, until recent times, have been limited.

Kristin Eyfells, the eldest of six children, grew up admiring her father, a rural doctor serving Icelandic families. He recognized her keen intellect early on and took her with him on his visits to his patients living on isolated farms throughout the territory. Very early in her life she developed an unquenchable ambition to make large contributions. Her interests were many. She loved clothing and design, psychology, music, photography and especially visual arts. By the time she met Jóhann Eyfells in Berkeley, California in 1948, she was already a very independent dress designer and businesswoman. She owned a dress shop in Reykjavik, while attending design school in Berkeley.

By the 1950’s, she was married to Jóhann and embarking on a new career as a painter and sculptor. Kristin would leave a lucrative career as a clothing industry entrepreneur to become a visual artists. Jóhann, would also eventually distance himself away from working as a licensed architect and ambitiously devote his life as a fine artist. With a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the University of Florida, she continued her studies in fine art, applying all of her experiences and education toward her goal of producing formidable art.

Jóhann & Kristin

What is great art? Simply put, it is art that has the power to change your thinking in a “truthful” way. It does not shock or offend, rather it brings you to new insights and heightens your esthetic appreciation of the world. This is what Kristin Eyfells attempted to do when she began painting people. Her most ambitious and recognized body of work is entitled “Famous Faces“, in which all of her subjects are people of notoriety. Not all of her subjects were famous though. She did a body of work entitled “Anonymous Faces” that reveal her subjects’ deepest feelings and strengths. In this series she wanted to focus on women whose surface beauty is defined by a mask of make up, yet still exposing underneath another more subtle mask of defensiveness, which suggests that Kristin, in spite of this double mask (mask within a mask) carried by her subjects, had the uncanny ability to reveal the inner beauty and vulnerability of the person through the layers of paint and color.

After 32 years of producing “great art”, Kristin Eyfells died in Orlando, Florida from complications brought on by a stroke. She was 85 years old. In 2003, Jóhann Eyfells moved to Fredericksburg, Texas from Orlando, and brought with him both his large body of work as well as Kristin’s. It was a monumental undertaking, but it presented him with a new challenge of being and creating without his life partner. He continues to work to this day on new bodies of work, and his major goal for the remaining years of his life is to see Kristin Eyfells, the artist, move to the forefront of American art. Presently, her “Famous Faces” series is being exhibited at the International Museum of Art and Science (IMAS) in McAllen, Texas.

Self Portrait by the artist

We, here in the Hill Country, are lucky to have Kristin Halldorsdottir Eyfells’ large body of work housed at the Eyfells & Eyfells Sculpture & Art Ranch, just 5 miles west of Fredericksburg, Texas. Jóhann, her husband of 52 years, is also exhibiting her “Anonymous Faces” series in the Sunken Gallery. Outdoor visitors are welcome to come and visit anytime and see this exceptional collection.

Written by Sherryl Brown

Meaning – a poem

The following poem was written by Jóhann Eyfells, which was also part of his thesis:

MEANING

Conceptions of man,

Synthesized in active structures of cosmic rhythms.

Unadulterated formative forces,

Expanding the vistas of emotional discourse,

Convictions transformed in actions,

Attitudes and inward visions,

Hewn in harmonic forms and spaces,

Conceived in the circular expanse of barren horizons.

Rebelling against random nature,

Symbol of cohesion,

Heralded,

Staunch mark of its epoch,

Bearing meanings extracted from life,

Affirming implicit spiritual liberation,

In sky oriented forms of living faith.

Forces in Nature – Jóhann Eyfells  a documentary film

Chapter 3 – Kale’s Vision

The last part of our journey was no less amazing. Johann’s niece, Margret and her husband Kale invited us to stay in the northern territory of Iceland, in Akureyri, where we stayed for the next two nights. The flight north with Air Iceland was also a treat since we were invited to accompany and film the pilots in the cockpit, one of whom happened to be Margret and Kale’s son. Once on the ground, our guide Kale would drive us 100’s of kilometers through lava fields, along coastal roads, into volcanoes and finally to one of the largest waterfalls in Europe, Dettifoss , one of the most spectacular sites I’d ever experienced.

Gold

Chapter 2 – The Song Ingibjörg – An amazing journey, still unfolding…

We traveled about 7 hours toward the east and south to finally end up at Jökulsárlón where the huge glaciers are breaking off into the sea.

Iceberg2

The people of Iceland

Páll of Húsafelli - artist and musician

Páll of Húsafelli – artist and musician

Here’s  a link to Páll Gudmundsson’s site: http://www.pallg.is/Default.asp?Sid_Id=320&tId=1&Tre_Rod=&qs

Chapter 1 – Ingólfur and the Ghost Crevasse – Filming A Force in Nature in Iceland

Since Monday, we have been traveling through some of the most remote and breath taking areas of Iceland, and here are some photos of the actual shoot to prove it. Anderson Seal, from Newport Beach, California, is our camera assistant extraordinaire and friend, and we are so lucky to have him with us. Ingólfur Eyfells,  Jóhann Eyfells’ son, has been our amazing guide, cultural attaché and location coordinator, and the rest of his family have been so gracious and kind to accommodate us these last 2 days and throughout the three weeks we will be in Iceland.

Don’t forget to check out our teaser trailer for the film on Vimeo:  https://vimeo.com/213382491

The first part of our journey, Chapter 1, was meticulously organized and guided by Jóhann Eyfells’ son, Ingólfur Eyfells. Being a project manager of a company that is solely in charge of operating Iceland’s electricity transmission grid, and also an avid hiker and adventurer,  Ingólfur’s knowledge of the interior country and its people was critical in our search for images that captured the very essence of this incredibly beautiful country. His own experiences growing up as a child also led us to places where we gained valuable insight into the lore, history and culture of the Icelandic people.

The Ghost Crevasse was one such place, where it is said that spirits that were lurking and bothering the local farmers below were relocated to this large crevasse in the hills so that they could move on to the afterlife. When we did hike through and into the crevice and reached its very depths, it occurred to us that there was not a single sound that could be heard, except that which came from our own breaths and footsteps. Once inside this tall, naturally shaped, spiraling cathedral, we completely felt alone in another world along with the absolute stillness that seem to echo the mysteries of the world unknown. This experience alone has without a doubt made a deep impression in my own psyche. Simon and Garfunkel’s  Sound of Silence has taken on a whole new meaning for me.

With Ingólfur, we must have traveled hundreds of miles of dirt roads to see and experience some of the most breathtaking landscapes the world has ever created. Iceland is an island that continues to be formed and changed by its volcanic nature and temperament, so the landscapes are ever changing and diverse.

Ciaran Hope – a.k.a. Ciaran Dóchas is our music supervisor for Forces of Nature.

Ciaran Hope – Music Composer and Supervisor

I want to take this opportunity to welcome an extremely talented and loyal friend, Ciaran Hope, to our team. Please take an opportunity to read about this man’s accomplishments and life.

Since first dipping his toes into the film mecca of Hollywood in the late 90’s, Irish composer Ciaran has diligently spent his time working for prestigious film and production companies, projects, and organizations. To this day, his original pieces are shaped from a rigorous, distinguished artistic training and strong affinity with the music.

As a former Fulbright Scholar in film music, Ciaran has been the recipient of awards such as the IMRO prize at the RTE Musician of the Future, the International Solstice Composition Prize, a National Training Commission for Film and Television Bursary, an Arts Council of Ireland Postgraduate Award and his music was a finalist at the International Clarinet Association Composition Contest and the International Song for Peace Contest, while his work on the Hollywood feature film The Insider was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

Ciaran has been commissioned to create classical pieces for prestigious cultural groups and organizations such as the Czech Clarinet Quartet and the Latvian Ministry of Arts and Culture and the Solstice Arts Centre in Navan, where his new work will be the signature tune for the centre and will be played before performances, at launches, exhibition openings and other publicity events. His recent commission for children’s string orchestra, titled “A Spring Morning” premiered on the main concert stage at Euro Disney and the Church of Sainte-Merri in Paris during the summer of 2011 and the reaction from the performers, parents and audience was phenomenal.

Since being awarded an Arts Council of Ireland Project Bursary Award to write a new violin concerto for violinist Cora Venus Lunny, violinist and composer have been collaborating closely on the new concerto. Ciaran has also undertaken residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Artist’s retreat in Co. Monaghan and the Cill Rialaig Artist Retreat in remote Co. Kerry to work on the concerto, with the kind support of a 2011 Tyrone Guthrie Centre regional Bursary Award and a 2012 Cill Rialaig Residency Award.

Internationally, Ciaran’s music has been performed at showcases such as the Electro-acoustic music Festival of Cadiz, the Symposium of Brazilian Computer Music and the Logan Chamber Music Series in the famed Chautauqua Institute, New York. This year, his music was selected for performance at the second Beijing Irish Modern Music Festival of Beijing on March 18th 2012. He has also contributed music towards films that have been featured at over 40 film festivals around the world and have enjoyed commercial success in the U.S. entertainment industry as a composer for major entertainment companies, including Walt Disney, Trimark Pictures, Alcon Entertainment, TomandAndy, and Alliance Atlantis.

Commercially, his 2006 album, Etude in Film Score, was so successful that it made the top 40 sales at CDBaby.com in its first month. A track from the album, “Childhood Ends,” was selected for inclusion on an exclusive, limited release CDBaby promotional CD due to the album’s success.

Ciaran has also participated in BMI’s prestigious Conducting Workshop, where an elite group of 8 composers out of their 400,000 membership are chosen to spend two weeks working intensely with a conductor and live musicians at the musicians union in Los Angeles. His ‘classmates’ included World Soundtrack Award Winning and Golden Globe nominated composer Abel Korzeniowski, BMI Award winner Juan Carlos Rodriguez and Emmy nominated Annie winning composer Guy Moon.

As a speaker, Ciaran have given master classes on composing for film at a variety of venues including Trinity College Dublin, the Dundalk Institute of Technology, the University of Colorado at Denver and the Solstice Arts Centre in Navan. In December 2010, at the behest of the Provost Dr. John Hegarty, he organized a panel discussion that took place in the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin which focused on music placement and scoring in film and TV and gave master classes on film composition to Trinity postgraduate and undergraduate music students. The panel sold out in 3 days.

With a Masters degree in audio acoustics and a keen interest in all things audio, Ciaran has also published several research papers in audio acoustics and is currently exploring a new research project into the sonic stimulation of cell cultures at the world famous Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Having completed writing and recording string arrangements for producer Noel Hogan of The Cranberries, his new score to the new Hollywood feature film Truth About Kerry starring Stana Katic(ABC’s CASTLE) is being very well received. It has just been announced that Ciaran was awarded the position of Composer in Residence for 2013 in the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, where he will work on a new opera on the life of Robert Emmet.

Jóhann Eyfells takes on the art world.

David Hickey

David Hickey

David Hickey (born circa 1939) is an American art and cultural critic. He has written for many American publications including Rolling Stone, Art News, Art in America, Artforum, Harper’s Magazine, and Vanity Fair. He is currently Professor of English at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and Distinguished Professor of Criticism for the MFA Program in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of New Mexico.

John Rajchman

John Rajchman

John Rajchman (born June 25, 1946) is a philosopher working in the areas of art history, architecture, and continental philosophy.  John Rajchman is an Adjunct Professor[1] and Director of Modern Art M.A. Programs in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. He has previously taught at Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Collège International de Philosophie in Paris, and The Cooper Union, among others. He is a Contributing Editor for Artforum and is on the board of Critical Space. John Rajchman received a B.A., from Yale University and Ph.D., from Columbia University.

My challenge to both John Rajchman and David Hickey:

Dave Hickey, in the 1990’s, stated “nothing new has happened for 30 years.” I don’t agree. I feel, Mr. Hickey has to redeem himself. He has to reevaluate that statement. He says that nothing new has happened during my lifetime. That made me loose interest in investigating what he was saying. In fact, I don’t think I read anything by him since that statement because I judged it all worthless. I need a different kind of attention. As a thinker and an artist, I need to be aroused, not be put to sleep. In a way, putting people to sleep is common now. They should be giving lectures to a group of cows. No kidding! Have you ever seen a cow look up? They don’t look up. They just act like “life is wonderful.”

John Rajchman I believe does have an insight in what I do as an artist. Yet, I also question some of what he writes. He stated that “The house (materiality of life) has not been designed yet”. The word ‘design’ in this context I find questionable. It implies that creation or birth is intentional and that there is a Creator behind it. That’s a very culturally correct phrase to say, yet in my mind, birth is unintentional in it’s purity. John Rajchman writes “the jurisprudence of the singular,” I say, “the laws of chance.”

My fundamental questions to people are, does infinity have to have a starting point? Are beginnings the opposite of infinity? Is everything made of two halves?
If you ask a scientist today why the solar system works the way it does, his response would probably be because it simply does. There is a word for the solar system in Icelandic which literally means “Circular Nonsense.”
This acceptance of nonsense or unexplained events around us is the basis of faith. Even though it is nonsense, we have to have faith in it, in order to enjoy it. Chaos and delirium are necessary, for we should accept them for what they are. They are simply things without an end product or result. My recent sculpture, Plus and Minus Zero, represents the eternal synthesis of the infinite past with the infinite future. It’s the strangest unity in the universe. It’s also hard to distinguish between a Creator/Super Author and the actual creation or product. It’s a synthesis of contrast.

Only eternity is autonomous and self sufficient, and only a birth implies an absolute critic. We need a new perspective, period.”   Jóhann Eyfells

 

Dave Hickey’s response made April 24, 2012:

“I was wrong. I am writing a book called Pagan America to make up for it, so I’ll have to wait for redemption. Thanks.”  David Hickey