Background.

 

Background.

Description.

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Convergence.

 

One of the first remarks I hear when I describe this installation to people is “Oh, that’s insidious. It’s cool – but it’s insidious.”

The intention of “Convergence” is to invoke a spiritual space – but not the sanitized spirituality often referred to in this genre of art. If one looks closely at African, Native American, or Aboriginal spirtuality, there is a sense that the spiritual world is all around, yes, and all humans, animals, and plants coexist on an equal plane, but all things are not holding hands and singing “Kum Ba Ya”. There are spirits you can trust and there are spirits who will trick you if they get the chance.

So these two aspects connect nicely with the ways we interact with technology: on hand, all things spiritual, organic, and technological are not opposed to each other, they coexist. On the other hand, technology can be a trickster -- it is not to be blindly trusted.


I chose the Yoruba spirit Eshu, guardian of the crossroads to appear in this installation for a number of reasons. First, because he is a trickster god himself; and second, because the Yoruba, based in what is now western Nigeria, were a culture that placed high value on craftsmanship of all kinds, in other words, technology.


In his seminal book Flash of the Spirit, Robert Farris Thompson describes the importance of Eshu in ways that resonate powerfully with this installation. He writes:

“...one must cultivate the art of recognizing significant communications, knowing what is truth and what is falsehood, or else the lessons of the crossroads – the point where doors open and close, where persons have to make decisions that will affect their lives forever after – are lost.
Eshu consequently came to be regarded as the embodiment of the crossroads... he sometimes even ‘wears’ the crossroads as a cap, colored black on one side, red on the other, provoking in his wake foolish arguments about whether his cap is black or red, wittily insisting by implication that we view a person or a thing from all sides vefore we form a general judgment. (19)”


This above description invites obvious parallels to technology and its effect on our culture. We are at a crossroads, making decisions that can transform our lives forever. This installation insists we take the time to view this force from a range of perspectives before making a judgment on what is ‘natural’ or ‘spiritual’ and what is not.


A couple of notes: The crimson feather that appears in the installation is the symbol of Eshu’s power of potentiality; when not in view of white strangers, Afro-Cuban men and women pour cool water at crossroads in honor of Eshu. That’s another reason for the centrality of the cool waterfall in this installation.