Alchemical Mass, Blavatsky, Whare Wananga

2006 — 7
Interactive animation on pulse and consciousness
Processing script by Mike Godwin

BeatBots are produced using Processing, an open-source programming language; scripted to extract punctuation marks in relation to their appearance in a text, translate them into symbols, place the symbols on spokes that appear in a loop with rotational shaking. Mouse activation further rotates the spokes/symbols in 3D space.

BeatBots are performative representations, animated and abstract, that aspire to work. Each BB represents the summation of duration, though grammatical pauses, in an inspirational text (H. P. Blavatsky, An Alchemical Mass, the Maori Whare-Wananga). Symbolic visual correlates are assigned to each non-speech character related to grammatical pause, and placed on radial spokes (emotional intelligence radiates out), moving clockwise. A cross between a thought-form* and mandala, BeatBots search for spaces formed by the shifts between spoken and written language, between perceptual experience and conscious awareness, ingratiating themselves as they work to induce exquisite mental states through optical patterns that are direct corollaries to the pauses in the texts.

Experience is rooted in immediate sensation, time-based and timeless. The imperative to communicate individual experience to others leads to the prime marker for conscious awareness: language. But language is inherently abstract, and inadequate to transfer the breadth of conscious experience to another. Many visualization strategies have been used somewhat more successfully, but are often limited by a strictly representational role. Meditative images, on the other hand, such as mandalas, have hybrid functions as performative representations. Form colludes with narrative content to offer evidence of and an engine for altered states.

BeatBot texts:
1. H. P. Blavatsky (a founder of Theosophy)
Stanzas of Dzyan, COSMIC EVOLUTION
In Seven Stanzas translated from the Book of Dzyan, , 1888
2. Anonymous, An Alchemical Mass, 1602
3. Anonymous, The Whare-Wananga
Or House of Teaching or Learning; the Maori College, circa 14C

* In 1901 C. W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant published “Thought-Forms”, a collection of observed drawings (by friends Varley, Prince, and Macfarlane) that give visual form to mental phenomena such as affection, devotion, and ambition. The gesture was part of the larger spiritual movement of Theosophy, a melding of science, philosophy and spirituality.