Introduction to the Section on Image:

'Medflower' by Lisa Lipsett
(click here to see an enlargement)

"The practice of envisioning what might be, the central work of the visionary, is a stretch of the imagination." ~ Laura Sewell

Laura Sewell, in her excellent book, Sight and Sensibility: the EcoPsychology of Perception, points out that almost everything in our lives, not just the images we think of as constituting ‘art’, is filtered in some way through our visual sense. This, she continues, informs our every perception and even our capacity to imagine. As a metaphor, vision is boundless, and even in it’s purely physical form, the hegemony enjoyed by this one of our many senses is so pervasive that Mike Cohen, founder of the important ecopsychological school NatureConnect, has devised whole programs to break our dependence on this dominant sense.

With that level of significance in our lives, it is clear that sight is a crucial element, and this Art & EcoPsychology section on image contains an abundance of material designed to explore this fascinating sense.
Incorporating painting, photography, and sculpture, image based art is what we usually think of when we imagine the term ‘art’. Even ephemeral art forms that use the changing outdoor environment as canvas or material, as well as dance and other theatrical performances are often captured on film, where they tend to be ‘seen’ by the majority of their audience.

I started my conceptualization of this issue in late 1999, when I interviewed the British-born, multi-talented environmental artist Christopher Castle. That first conversation with him, which to my great pleasure has not yet ceased generating ongoing interaction, was so fascinating that it turned out to be several hours long and extended itself into a second interview focusing on Castle’s musical projects (found in the Sound section of this issue). The interview is accompanied by many images of his fine work, ranging from the traditional icons whose form he has so beautifully revitalized, to stunning oils, charcoal and pastels. Feast your eyes.

Environmental artists of another sort have been gathering at a local land-fill site in the California bay area for the last three years, and the article on Art at the Bulb gives my impression of this exciting urban art form. These artists utilize recycled materials and the natural environment in their ever-changing open-air gallery, and the article comes with a few selected images from the thousands of digital photographs of the site taken by the eternally curious and socially conscious digital artist Fletcher Oakes. There is a brief selection of Fletcher’s own artwork - Digital Mandalas - and a link to his website for more.

ICE member and practicing artist Lisa Lipsett contributes two wonderful pieces, Painting Fear, and Not being Able to See. Not Being Able to See is an internal dialogue, an ongoing commentary between her seeing self and her fuzzy-visioned self, who not only have different points of view, but hold completely different values. This charming piece is illustrated with many of Lisa’s beautiful paintings. Painting Fear is a visual prose poem that cleverly compares the fear of painting with the fear of ‘wild’erness.

The Roots of the Ecological Self is a contribution of archetypal images from new ICE member Jonathan Metcalfe. His work explores the field of light and shadow, figuratively and metaphorically, and shows an astonishing depth of vision. Archetypal images of another sort, Native American sculptor Ned Bear honors us with the inclusion of one of his magnificent masks.

And finally, an on-line conversation with artist and mystic Michel Durant—on visual perception, science, light, and mysticism—led to this piece on Unified Field theory. The article attempts to describe some of the physical and metaphysical phenomena that inspired the Pointillists, and other artists who worked with light, around the turn of the century. This is a viewpoint that could make you look at those old paintings, and everything else for that matter, with new eyes.