The painting Memory II is an expression of the intersection of physics and Mahayana Buddhism as I understand it. Physicists posit that nested hierarchies exist in nature and are clearly understood in the energy landscape. Buddhists suggest that memory, like many things in nature, is also a nested hierarchy. Alan Watts described it this way;
The world of experience is made up of patterns. The preceding pattern is represented in the following one by a pattern like it which represents the former state of the pattern.
Buddhism suggests further that like smoke-rings, our memories dissolve eventually. These patterns only exist as long as the body exists. Take the example of the flame thrower. Where does a flame go when it goes out? To a happy land where all flames live peacefully ever after? No, the flame just ceases. Heat, ignition and fuel cause the flame. When one cause stops, like when the ignitor burns out or there is no fuel left or the wind blows the heat away, the flame extinguishes. Similarly our body and mind have causes and conditions, and when they stop we stop, too. Poof.
In the Phaedo Cebes says to Socrates:
Men find it very hard to believe what you said about the soul. They think that after it has left the body that it no longer exists anywhere but that it is destroyed and dissolves on the day the man dies, as soon as it leaves the body; and that, on leaving it, it is dispersed like breath or smoke, has flown away and gone and is no longer anything anywhere.”
Being an eternalist like Cebes I don’t like the word “dissolve” and I find these conclusions unsatisfactory.
In quantum jumps, molecules can make transitions to virtual states, which then become real like ordinary things. By jumping into a virtual state, a system can transform transcendent order into real order. - Lothar Schafer
When we climb a ladder we step from one rung to another. We cannot step between the rungs. Energy travels the same way, making tiny jumps from one level to the next, increasing in strength. Just as we cannot step between the rungs, energy does not step between the rungs but, according to physicists, seems to disappear between each step! They don’t know where it goes! It has led some, like Lothar Schafer, to conclude that there is another reality beyond the one we can experience with our senses or measure with our instruments. This other reality is just as real as the “natural” one we experience. It is from this epinatural world that mutations, animal instinct and new ideas come from.
The only evidence we are allowed today is the evidence that is given to us by empirical science. I have a great deal of respect for science. If science has proven something to be true it gives validity to a theory. Scientists and artists are very much alike in that they both believe, and work from the belief, that the case is never closed. What we have discovered, recorded and reported are indications of what we understand at this present moment. Nothing more. In this present moment, quantum physics is pointing to something that is infinite and will never be completely understood, at least not from our physical standpoint. We are limited by our physical apparatus. Perhaps that is how it is meant to be.
Art by its very nature is not science and science by its very nature is not art; both these spheres of the mind have something in reserve that is peculiar to them and can be explained only in its own terms. - C. G. Jung
Frankences is my stage name; my nom-de-guerre. Mostly I use it for social media accounts. By an innocent slip of the tongue my husband called me Frankences. It is a perfect blend of Frankenstein and Frances and so I use it. I say it is my stage name because in my paintings I am creating a stage upon which I will tell a larger story. On this recent stage Frankences has created a monster. I didn’t set out to create a monster.
While researching examples of art and science collaborations I found the inspiring art of Elinor Mossup and Dr. Sam Bowser. They were part of an art/science project documenting the study of single-cell organisms living on shipwrecks in Lake George.
Because amoebae simply “split in two” when they reproduce, they are essentially immortal. One could argue, therefore, that the amoebae inhabiting the sunken bateaux in 1758 are still alive today! Metaphorically, they serve as our portal to the past.”- Bowser
This led to a search for more microscopic creatures like the cocolopho (which shape just blows my mind) and to the simple sea cucumber. The juxtaposition of coral pink and Verditer blue were breathtaking. I simply had to create something with these colors. What struck me with further delight was the way the light reflected off its intestines. I brought these elements of color and light into the painting “Monster”.
Monster is the solo performer on this stage and must be active. Monster has to move. In this incongruous role the jellyfish-like creature plays with energy and sends out arcs of light, writing in the air like a child with a sparkler, indicating the constrained orbital of the atom. Sometimes inspiration does that; an inner direction is present and persistent. Often I listen to it and say, “Okay, if you say so.”
When this piece was first finished I thought “Boy, this is dumb” and I faced it toward the wall. Months after completion I had a conversation with Charlotte Demers, a biologist from The Northern Forest Institute. She described a fresh water jellyfish discovered in a body of water called Wolf Pond that had earlier been studied for its singularly primitive nature. Aerial images of Wolf Pond show clearly that the once pristine water was now discolored by a devastating algae bloom that resulted from the invasion of the jellyfish. It was a shock to learn that fresh water jellyfish existed. I believed I had created the fresh water Holothurian and placed it further out of context into a frozen lake. The only real fiction here is the scale. As I was working on this piece I was also unaware of an article that appeared in The Atlantic magazine around this same time, where the author described the jellyfish as a monster. Consider this description from Rebecca Giggs in her article, “Imagining the Jellyfish Apocalypse”:
The insidiousness of a jellyfish bloom lies in its amassed torpor—a monster more monstrous for lacking a center, each animal stewarded by no more than a basic set of compulsions (light, gravity, food, reproduction).
The lesson we’re meant to take from all this is that ecological collapse will spawn nothing new. No Boschian hellscape of strange and shuddering hybrids will emerge. Environmental disaster is fundamentally uncreative.
I agree with Giggs with regard to the science, but in the realm of the imagination these environmental events birth new ideas both relative to creative solutions and fictional characters. Monster is the nucleus; the base from which new forms are created. Monster has taken on a life of its own. Perhaps it is a new archetype whose mission is to point us in the direction of belief in synchronicity and a greater awareness.
Frazer, J. “The Sea Cucumber That Became a Jellyfish,” Scientific American, 2017, May 19. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/the-sea-cucumber-that-became-a-jellyfish-video/
Giggs, Rebecca. “Imagining the Jellyfish Apocalypse.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 2017, Dec. 9,
Murphy, Margaret. “Non-Native Jellyfish Found In Newcomb 'Heritage Lake' -.” The Adirondack Almanack, 2017, June 17,
Bugs Bunny: My, I bet you monsters lead interesting lives. I said to my girlfriend just the other day, ‘Gee, I’ll bet monsters are interesting’, I said. The places you must go and the places you must see, my stars! And I’ll bet you meet a lot of interesting people, too. I’m always interested in meeting interesting people. Now let’s dip our patties in the water!
(Bugs dips the monster’s hands into two bowls where two mousetraps snap shut on them. The monster is trapped by flattery.)
21 x 13 oil on canvas
13 x 21 oil on canvas
8 x 10 pastel on paper
20 x 16 pastel on paper
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3 x 40 inches oil on canvas
36 x 24 inches, watercolor on paper