It is a fundamental, unbreakable law of this universe that energy is not created or destroyed, it only changes form. It may not be made, but it may be transfigured. Energy released from nuclear fusion taking place within the gravity of our sun hurtles into space in the form of photons. Photons, being mass-less, may travel at the speed of causality – nearly 300 million meters per second, and it is at this speed that some travel the 150 million kilometers of vacuum to arrive at Earth. There it is possible for this energy to begin a causal chain of sustenance. Firstly, with photosynthesizers, who can produce their own sustenance from this energy, and then in various degrees of remove for all further consumers. When enough energy is gathered in conditions that permit an existence beyond individual continuance, a photosynthesizing plant may invest a surplus of energy. This may be concentrated within a blossom or a seed bearing fruit, presented as means of sustenance to other beings, allowing both the consumer and the consumed a further dissemination of energies. The same situations may be true for mammals. When circumstances allow for the investment of surplus energies, they can be concentrated in offspring, which then are sustained by the energy-rich sustenance of milk. Within these conditions, when a large enough group of similar beings are permitted to exist at once, emergence may occur. Emergence is a property of large systems by which that system exhibits characteristics and behaviors that its individual facets lack. In the case of human beings, within a system of many, culture may emerge, and within a system of one, consciousness may emerge. This then begins new transferences of this solar energy, centered within those emergences.
On the cultural level, energies flow within societal structure. Within those structures, there are surfeits and scarcities of energy. A human within a society may, via self-serving preference and bias, and features of family-unit inheritances, exist within the benefits of an imbalance in societal energies. The opposite may also be true, which may describe an immigrant experience. When leaving the structures of one culture to which a human is perceived as innate, to exist within another culture to which that human is perceived as not innate, the existing energy dynamics may not favour a social continuance. When faced then with that dearth of energies, one may seek to offer what is needed most, and needed most often, which may take the form of a convenience store. A convenience store may offer fundamental sustenance and convey item availability by codified and standardized use of that culture’s language and images, such as unambiguous wordings and imagery of energy receptacles, like containers for milk. To maximize effectiveness in relation to the unpredictable preference of a local consumer, availability is made near constant. Availability may even be extended beyond the bounds of the cyclical availability of sunlight via synthetic fabrication. The growth and nourishment of plants can be undertaken via the synthetic sun of sunlamps. The proprietors themselves may even extend their own individual availability by the synthetic sun of artificial lights and illuminated signs. This service to need is also supplemented with a service to want. When fundamental need thresholds are met, secondary, and tertiary absences may be filled. High calorie, energy rich foods are made readily available, along with various forms of potential energy, such as the theoretical monetary energies of a lottery ticket or the societal, informational, or erotic capital stored within magazines, which can serve to provide a maximal engagement of the widest cross-section of potential consumers. At the investor’s expense, a scarcity of energies may be maximally capitalized, via the clear identification of the most common needs and wants, the synthesizing of natural processes, and the disruption of the solar conventions of days, nights, and weeks.
Within the individual human system, and the emergence of self-awareness, the practice of art making may occur. As with plants and mammals, when an individual human is placed within a circumstance where a surplus of energy may be invested, and those energies are of a psychic or emotional make up, they then may be invested in art. The means by which this art making is accomplished is varied, but most typically it occurs within the instilling of an external object or action with the energies, which, otherwise, would remain enclosed within a human’s internal system. The emergence of self-awareness is essential, however, in that it creates a differential between an individual human and the larger system of the emergent culture in which they exist. Additionally, within the larger system of cultures, the producer of art is aided by some cultural objectivity when they have existed within aspects of other cultural systems viewed as separate from the one they are currently within. From that placement of difference, a process of engagement, examination, and interrogation may take place. An externalization of energies may then occur via those processes, which then may take the form most necessary to translate those internal energies in their maximally legible and most authentic form. A vehicle for those energies may aid in their continuance, but that continuance also relies on another individual human within that larger system that also bears an excess of energies, which is invested via their own engagement, examination, and interrogation. If both the producer and the perceiver of the art have comparable levels of energy to expend and enough overlap in their awareness of cultural codifications and standardizations, some of this energy may be migrated, then becoming a part of another individual’s system and may be further integrated into their larger cultural systems. What may further aid in this transference is a conceptual variation on The Copernican Principal. When Nicolaus Copernicus came to understand that the earth was not the centre of our system of planets, and that our sun was in fact its centre, this led to a further understanding that our sun is remarkable only to us. Our sun is one of infinite many suns dispersed throughout the universe. We are then assured that the likelihood is exceptionally high that we occupy a typical placement within the universe, and not a remarkable or singular one. This may be applied to systems of art, as well, in that it may serve to maximally disperse energies with a lesser loss in transmission when, within the context of difference, maker and observer each consider themselves nearer to typical than to singular.
Comprehensively, that means that via the drives of continuance, both cultural and personal, something is accomplished with the unbroken chain of energy begun in our unceasingly exploding sun. By the careful parsing of perceptions and the continual interrogation of circumstance, by effort and trial, one may attempt to transfigure one’s systems, and one’s self.
Daniel Gallay has been an Arts Professional in Toronto for over 15 years. His writing has been featured in Canadian Art Magazine and his video work has been exhibited with Pleasure Dome and Under New Management’s touring Video Rental Store.
Ryan Park’s practice begins with the camera as a tool and mindset, producing works across media including print, sculpture, video, painting, and installation. His works have been exhibited and screened throughout Canada and internationally, including at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, Modern Fuel Kingston, Forest City Gallery London, and the Blackwood Gallery in Mississauga. He has a BFA in interdisciplinary art from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (2007) and a MFA from the University of Guelph (2010). He lives and works in Toronto.
Ryan Park gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Daniel Gallay, José Andrés Mora, and Liana Schmidt.