Beauty of the Moment: Integrating Separate Realities

IT’S EASY TO FORGET ABOUT (being a boring-old air-breathing land-animal) the mysterious and delicate beauty constantly teeming beneath the watery depths which make up most of this planet. I have moments from time to time in which I am struck by the solid fact that there are millions of interactions and transactions occurring this very moment (and this moment, and this moment!) unbeknownst to me in all the various ecosystems around the globe. I stop to imagine all of the millions of seahorses that just must be being born right now! I may never see them in person, but as long as seahorses continue to exist in this world, I can imagine the reality. And with the abundance and grace of new technology, we boring-old land-breathing land-animals are able to see more and more into the recesses of the previously inaccessible–into the depths where the thousands of sea horses are being born right now.

This is great: with the assistance of a live webcam, anyone can see the beauty of a moment which is outside their own physical reality. What you are experiencing when viewing a live stream is awareness of a universe parallel to your own. With the eye of the webcam, you can access a moment that is impossible to physically experience (in the moment, that is). It is not the same thing as being in two places at once, but it is being aware of two places (or existences) at once. Of course, the view is limited to your computer screen. Yet, the imagination–which will gladly take this awareness and run with it, if allowed–further opens up vistas of perception beyond one’s own knowing. Thus, far apart realities overlap, and can be integrated to increase one’s awareness of the infinity of the moment.

Upon my recent discovery of the Channel Islands webcams, I find myself checking in virtually on live takes of underwater scenes several times throughout the day. It is reassuring to absorb a vibrant living scene occurring at the same time as one’s own (perhaps mundane) day-t0-day-ness. The constant dance of ocean life in particular remind one of the truth of perpetual and inevitable change. The watery world of the depths is both autonomous (happening of its own accord) and conjunct (responding, reacting, and interacting with our above-ground world). This underwater webcam technology highlights the paradox of independence and inter-connectedness: that life on earth functions via individuals which are simultaneously separate and integrated into a whole. When watching the live stream, my reality is my physical surroundings (i.e. room I am in, with the computer connected to the internet etc.)–but now also layered with awareness of an underwater realm. The cams aren’t always live; when it gets too dark, ‘highlights’ from the webcams recorded footage are screened (so you can see into the past, as well). When live, the stream is sometimes from a still, unmanned camera, a mechanical eye which allows me to secretly peer into a world which has no idea I am watching it. It is like a two-way mirror through which I can observe glowing giant kelp sway rhythmically; orange Garibaldi and tri-toned Sheephead dart and mingle; and Sea Lions casually cruise by–and yet they cannot even begin to know about me watching them through the computer screen.

So now I don’t have to 100% imagine what is happening right now offshore the island closest to where I live–I can see it, virtually, in my home (or at least, a small peephole segment of it). But rather than reducing the need or desire to imagine the unknowable, this newfound awareness actually completes the circuit, generating a progressive feedback which pushes one into more unknown territory. We imagine, we search, we find, and then imagine more–perhaps ad infinitum (is this the true infinity of the universe?). It is at least human evolution in motion, one air-breathing land-animal at a time.

A (large and time-consuming) drawing I did after snorkeling in Hawaii:

The Depths of the Ocean II / 2009 / ink on paper / 24″ x 36″



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