Meeting the Path of Totality: 2017 Solar Eclipse
08.07.2017, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

from empty practice for meeting the path of totality, smudge studio 002017

The question of how to live challenges and realities of the Anthropocene intensifies.  It has led many in the humanities to call for creative engagement with ancient human practices, myths, and cosmologies.

We’ve decided to respond to that call by drawing on practices of ancient Chinese painters and poets as creatively interpreted by David Hinton.*  Hinton’s work has introduced us to Chinese sages who activated aesthetic experience as a vehicle for arriving at no separation between one’s sense of self and the cosmos. Their mediums consisted of retreats to mountains to walk, practice meditation, observe, paint, compose poetry, make calligraphy, drink tea, and join image with text.  Working from here and now, we are setting out to devise and enact contemporary translations of ancient aesthetic practices such as these.

cover, smudge book of changes, smudge studio 002017

We take up our new, translational project from many hundreds of years after the ancients and from across deep cultural difference. We are propelled to reach across time and distant ways of being by the growing awareness of the Anthropocene—the current epoch of human impact on the environment at a geologic scale, a time when humans are reaching material limits of many forms of life on the planet.

We produced a six-page chapbook that delineates these new directions for our work. All are welcome to download a PDF of smudge book of changes.  Printed versions of the chapbook will be available in late fall, 002017.

We will put the smudge book of changes into practice by meeting and creatively responding to the total solar eclipse of August 21st, 002017 — not a minor experience! (see Annie Dillard’s personal account in Total Eclipse).

For the past year, we’ve been preparing to do work at the site of the greatest duration of totality in North America.  On August 21, we will be in the path of the shadow as it enters southern Illinois at 1:17pm CDT and moves out of the state at 1:25pm.

During these charged moments, we will be hosted by the Touch of Nature Environmental Center, in Carbondale, Illinois where totality will last for 2 minutes and 37 seconds (national maps of the eclipse are available here).

The practice we created for meeting the path of totality is informed by smudge’s new directions.  We introduce empty practice for meeting the path of totality in a downloadable chapbook.  Printed versions will also be available later this fall.

from empty practice for meeting the path of totality, smudge studio 002017

On August 21, we will enact empty practice in an aesthetic gesture of meeting the path of totality.  We expect to make subsequent work that draws from our experiences that day. We’re excited about discovering what performing empty practice invites.


* Thank you to David Hinton for his translational work and insights, and the Hemera Foundation Tending Space Fellowship for Artists for support to attend Hinton’s workshop, Daoist Roots: Entering the Wilderness of Early Chinese Zen, at Zen Mountain Monastery, July 002017.

2 Comments so far
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Beautiful! I look forward to getting the printed versions!

Comment by Tamara Pittman

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