Ethos

I don’t make things. No one can.

Every atom of every thing has been so many things before. I take things that already exist and grow and reveal what is already there, what has been there, and what could be there. I start by observing, looking attentively for what has been overlooked, what can be undone, and how best to bring something back into a state of becoming.

I am interested in things not only as they are, but as they were, and as they will be. Every object, every piece of wood or grain of sand, is a point in a line stretching back to the beginning. These tangled lines form the web of existence that holds us.
When we make a change to anything, we bend an existing line in a new direction, shifting the pattern and subtlety reshaping the web. The further we bend a thing from what it has been the less and less it can draw on the deep well of its past—like bending a hose until the kink in it stops the flow entirely.

When a thing has been bent so far that it is disconnected from its ancient story, it becomes unmoored. When that circumstantial use that it has been twisted into concludes, or it “breaks” and can no longer fill that role, it is cast adrift, with no clear way back into the pattern of being and becoming. These orphaned things pile up as “trash”—a growing cancer that drags, like a dead weight, on the rest of the web and threatens its collapse.

Everything impacts everything else.

When the only future we allow for things is trash it doesn’t matter what anything used to be. When trash is what things turn into, our existence collapses to a disappointing disposable present that seeks salvation in a future that never comes because we can no longer access the flow of material history needed to build it. When we make trash the future of everything, the past becomes irrelevant and we are trapped in a truncated present that leads only to collapse.

A linear, extractive system will inevitably fail if it doesn’t turn itself into a circle.

I don’t wish to bend things in new or novel directions, but rather unbend some of the kinks that have choked objects off from their deep history and kept them from flowing back into the world to become other things. I search for ways to steer objects back into the pattern and link them to threads that augment and amplify the flow of their past towards a shared, becoming future.

No object or material is what we say it is. The words we have for things are just names for the ways we use them. We know nothing of the names they have for themselves. The names we have for things are limited by our understanding and that understanding is limited by how much of the larger pattern we can see. Things however, are limitless and eternal. The shape of the pattern is all that we impact.

We wrongly think of the history of our species as an accumulation of our achievements and creations. Have our accomplishments increased joy? Is there less exploitation and suffering now than there was before? It is only recently—in the last blip of human time—that we have stopped letting things return to the flow of life and becoming, which produces all things. It is undoubtedly our desire to exceed our own mortality that drives this wishful sequestration of material. Buried in our landfills, discarded things wait, like embalmed bodies sealed in caskets for the long arc of time to free them from the suspended animation in which we have trapped them.

In time our denial of the cyclic nature of Nature will end. Our linear system will collapse if it doesn’t evolve to be cyclic. Our denial of our connectedness and smallness will end, or humans won't be around to see what comes after. I hope my great, great, great, great, grandchildren are there to wonder how we managed to temporarily lose our way. In the meantime, I will keep making signposts pointing toward a richer, renewable future anchored in the heritage of the deepest material past.