“The mandala is an archetypal image whose occurrence is attested throughout the ages. It signifies the wholeness of the Self. This circular image represents the wholeness of the psychic ground or, to put it in mythic terms, the divinity incarnate in man.”
―Carl Gustav Jung: Memories, Dreams, Reflections
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“I began to understand that the goal of psychic development is the self. There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the self.”
―Carl Gustav Jung: Memories, Dreams, Reflections
INNER G G3N3RAT0R
PHOENIX GARUDA SRI YANTRA MANDALA
By now most of us have seen the huge influx of AI generated images that have spread across social media over the past few months. For the few who haven’t Google “Midjourney AI Art” or “Dalle AI Art”. I joke with my friends how surprised I was that of all the jobs for AI to replace, that surrealist psychedelic visionary artist was one of the first.
While I don’t consider these new AI art generators like Dalle and Midjourney (or the LaMDA Google chat bot) to be sentient or conscious beings I do think they represent a profound leap in technological advancement. When using Midjourney you type in a prompt and the AI system will scan “all” (or many) of the images online and reassemble and build a new image based on everything it “sees” from the collective pool of images online (LaMDA does this, but with written words). The profound thing to me is that these AIs act as technological oracles, creating something new based on a scan of the collective sum of knowledge and experience of all of humanity that exists online.
After playing with Midjourney for a while after an initial phase of surreal excitement and disbelief I found myself becoming bored. The main reason for this is that I missed the work part of the creative process. A big part of what is rewarding about working as an artists is the process of struggle, discover, resistance, problem solving and evolution of a piece of art over time. Each piece is a journey more than a finished product. With Midjounrey you simply enter a prompt and it quickly spits out an incredible piece of art without any struggle or work, so it feels disconnected from the human creative process.
I also felt some resistance to this new technology because of my background as an artist is based on the old school techniques of drawing with pencil and paper, draftsmanship using a square and compass to create geometric constructions and painting on wood panels. While I’m glad to have these as foundational skills but I also believe that really interesting creative things happen when working on the bleeding edge of technology. In the same way that the impressionist movement arose from the new technology of premixed paint in tubes allowing artists to more easily paint outdoors, I am very curious about what new kinds of art or movements will emerge from this new powerful technology.
With all of this in mind I decided that instead of using the AI to create a finished piece I would use it to generate the raw material that I would use to build a much larger piece. This felt like a good balance, to not ignore this new powerful emergent technology, but also to incorporate the traditional creative process and skills to build something that is more than the sum of its parts.
This piece was created using hundreds and hundreds of AI artwork generated by Midjourney. Each one was run through the MidJourney variation and upscale process several times and then cut out, mirrored, modified, overlayed and a variety of other techniques to build this large mandala. I built this mandala based on underlaying sacred geometry patterns of traditional Tibetan mandalas, a central circle containing the Sri Yantra, triangles, 5, 7 and 9 pointed starts and the 24 fold geometric patterns to help govern the placement of images in this piece. I created several versions that showed the overlaying geometric patterns, but thought it was more interesting to remove them for the final piece.
This mandala contains temples, cathedrals, Hindu gods, organic fractal lifeforms like coral and trees, lotus and rose patterns, winged seraphim and archangels angels and other smaller mandalas arranged to form a massive piece that would have taken me months or years to paint.
I intentionally abstracted or removed some of the more obvious representational elements in the piece and added hundreds of layers overlaid over each other. Ive found through my years of working with archetypes and symbols and creating art as a means of exploring deeper into the realms of the sub and collective consciousness that more interesting things happen when things are slightly abstracted and more intricate. In this less representational and more hyperdetailed form, a piece acts more like a Rorschach test where what the viewers see or notice most in the inkblot is a reflection of themselves.
DEDICATED TO MY DEAR FRIEND MARK GOLDING
I love you and miss you my friend.