“Fulgur Limited is delighted to host a much anticipated launch party for David Chaim Smith’s The Sacrificial Universe in collaboration with our friends at the Cavin-Morris Gallery in the Chelsea arts district, New York, on March 23rd. The event will run from 6-8pm. We are especially honoured that the evening will feature a live performance from the legendary John Zorn, plus special guests.”
David Chaim Smith, with characteristic humility, describes the event as “just a humble book launch party for my most recent work “The Sacrificial Universe” (Fulgur 2012). “ However, this celebration marks an important philosophical turning point that has been churning of late and is starting to bear visible fruit. This turning point is a renewal of a deeper engagement with concepts that have been relegated to mere theory and idealization or fringe realization.
Smith’s work is important, not only for it’s philosophical depth, but also for the integration that has been achieved of contemporary practice within the development of a living tradition. For years we have been encountering new ideologies that have been scavenging traditional symbols for depth, without many strong voices that have embraced the potency of living traditions themselves.
The growth of independent publishers such as Fulgur Limited, Scarlet Imprint, Ouroboros Press, and others, is renewing the concept of book arts as a fully functioning aspect of an experiential spectrum, supporting those who would bring a more holistic approach to integral sacred media. If we look back to the emergence of print publication, we can see instances of a more developed concept of what publication means that provides a forerunning example of how professional craftsmanship and philosophic experimentation can be beneficial companions.
For instance, the same engravers working on iconography in alchemical manuscripts, also provided the engravings for deeply religious texts such as the Anabaptist publication, The Martyr’s Mirror. In turn these engravers where aware of the way in which visual rhythms followed musical and textual rhythms, providing imagery with an informational carrying capacity not present in most media today. There is a totality to these well crafted volumes that speaks to an intricate relationship between visionary states, carefully crafted design and the disemmination of the final creation.
This constrictive nature of contemporary media allows for an uncritical demonizing of traditional religion, while failing to express the complexity of these traditions in their living, evolving, forms. What we have in David Chaim Smith’s work is an example of how these traditional forms can still be addressed, without encountering the mundane political facades that have become the main focus of religious dialogue. We also have an complex interplay between the practical working of the author/artist, the media in which it is expressed to the public, and the event that opens that media to our encountering it.
John Zorn’s appearance at the event is a key to understanding how far the interplay of elements can go when we look deeper into traditional forms of the arts. His Tzadik label has been working for years to support both contemporary expressions of traditional music forms, and more avant garde works that completely overturn any concept that we have of what these forms actually mean. His appearance at the book launch creates a connection that takes us again beyond simplistic understanding of what occurs in a “book publication,” and presents us with a deeper experience of how these drawings, this book, and the event itself, connect with living practice.
Smith’s work dances past easy definition of mind, body and spirit, and these drawings themselves point to areas of further exploration. The history of the visual arts holds this readily up until the Renaissance, when realism became a more focused element. While Renaissance art work often continues to include symbolic and allegorical elements, the complete realization of these elements in almost hallucinatory detail that we find in artists like Bosch, or the Dutch Masters, or earlier in various examples of religious iconography, is completely lacking.
There is nothing to suggest any kind of structured practice during the post-Renaissance period, outside of specific incidents such as the alchemical, hermetic and magical texts. If we look at more recent examples, hints of this are found in some of the more advanced work of Surrealism, DaDa and the DIY media of the late 20th century, but nothing with the multi-media potency and intent of what we are seeing today in terms of direct transmission.
James Magrini, Professor of Western Philosophy and Ethics at the College of Dupage, describes the basis for this integral artistic expression in an unpublished essay on Empedocles, he explains that “for the ancient Greeks, to feel and see was already in an important sense to know, and within the “embodied thought” of Empedocles there is always an intimate link and communion between the world and the human...”
Has this sense of embodied thought been captured by popular press editions that lack the full possibility of what media can truly be? That doesn’t seem to be the case. If we again look to the example of alchemical texts, at the height of their development the integration of musical theory, visual theory, practical theory, engagement with a living tradition, and their integration into social expression through opera, plays and concerts, has been lacking focus for quite some time.
A full practice flowing through living traditions, authors/artists/musicians, publishers/labels/media outlets, live events and, in turn, living experiences, is an exciting turning point in how we view the possibilities of contemporary media.
Event Details -
At: Cavin Morris Gallery
210 11th Avenue, Suite 201, Manhattan, NY
On: Friday, 23 March 2012
Time: 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Come early to assure you catch John Zorn’s performance