Kosmorganica aesthetics
in the digital age


In ancient Chinese medicine, meridian lines are invisible energy channels that run through the body, carrying vital energy or ch’i. They connect organs with mind, soul, and extremities that can be triggered by pressure points hovering below the surface of the skin. The rationalist does not believe meridian lines exist because these pathways are undetectable with modern instruments. However, the network of these energy lines is a narrative that has healed millions of people for over two-thousand years. Here, I tell my story of Kosmorganic aesthetics, where I join art practices together by invisible connections. I offer this text and imagery to guide visitors to recognize an art aesthetic that unifies mind, body, and community. I present Kosmorganic aesthetics as both a destination to explore, as ‘Kosmorganica,’ an immersive aesthetic experience, and a  contemporary art movement.

Kosmorganic is a portmanteau of ‘Kosmos’ and ‘organicism.’ Kosmos with a ‘K’ refers to the physical universe and the patterned nature of all domains of existence from matter to mind to an ultimate supreme being. Organicism refers to the Pythagorean school, and Plato’s thought on cosmology. Organicists conceive of the universe as alive and intelligent with consciousness and a soul with all matter interconnected. Similar to holism as in holistic health like Chinese medicine, Organicists take a systems-based approach whereby entities are viewed as a whole and not just a collection of separate parts. Pythagoreans and Chinese doctors harmonize the parts to heal the entire system. Although with the Pythagoreans, used sound and not needles to create balance. Kosmorganic is not strictly organicism since artworks are not living entities. Kosmorganic aesthetics is resemblance-organicism whereby things made to resemble nature, such as artworks, in turn, have a mind and soul without being alive in the biological sense.[1]  Essentially the Kosmorganic process and aesthetic are ecocentric or nature-centered, with humans considered part of nature.  Kosmorganic art practices follow a design that provokes visitors to look inward and connect their existence with a greater non-physical realm through perceptual and non-literary contemplation.

I cluster art practices labeled under  20 titles of which few historians have recognized as being linked.[2] Some of these practices have labels such as Experimental architecture, Ambient media, and Land art. With so many different styles and forms under the Kosmorganic movement, it can be challenging for visitors to recognize if their cultural experience is Kosmorganic if identified by material and process alone. The intersection of all of these practices lies in their internal mechanisms or internal intelligence. The affect of these works relates to mental states of higher awareness, spiritual and/or metaphysical connection.  Thus, when distinguishing if a work is Kosmorganic, it is essential to consider the work’s reception at the time of experience and the state of one’s being after having experienced a work.  During the reception of Kosmorganic art, one may describe their experience as immersive, sensory, and even metaphysical. The after-effects of a Kosmorganic experience may induce clarity, patience, creativity, and serenity.  Artist Robert Irwin asserts that by concentrating on non-linguistic intelligence during a visit, the visitor increases mental sensitivity to later appreciate the beauty of the world. The common ground of Kosmorganica is not the form but its impact on the viewer during and after a phenomenological experience.[3] I thread these 20+ art practices together with their common inner aesthetics and put them into three branches, ecosophic, frequency bathing, and ritualistic performance.  For this website’s purpose and limited scope, I focus mainly on Western historical references with mention of Eastern artworks and philosophical intersections.

Harbingers of Kosmorganic art began in the late 18th century with Romanticism. During this counter-Enlightenment movement, philosophers, artists and writers celebrated awe, unity, the metaphysical, and the sublime in nature. A second precursor of Kosmorganica took place at the end of the 19th and during the early 20th century with abstract painting and its relationship to myth and the occult. Artists drew from esoteric practices such as Theosophy, Anthroposophy, numerology, alchemy, and parapsychology. What I call Kosmorganica sprouted in the late 1950s and coincided with the first successful orbiting space rocket, Sputnik, in 1957. The Kosmorganic philosophy that followed was a continuation of the Romantic ecocentric position, except the vision was forward-thinking rather than nostalgic for a pre-industrial age. Global issues such as environmental concerns on a worldwide scale, plane and space travel, and digital communications fertilized Kosmorganic art’s surge in the 1960s.  Human concern expands from their nation-state to the entire globe and beyond Earth.  The  Kosmorganic movement came in various forms such as Land art, ritualistic performance, minimal drone music, visual music, and multisensory rooms. The ease of transatlantic travel and increased immigration fostered cultural exchange. This time, Western cultures studied internal intelligence from Indian, China, and Japan; they integrated aspects of Taoism, Vedism, and Buddhism into their cultural practices and world vision.[4] Secular yoga and meditation, Jungian psychology, Human Potential movement, Anthroposophy, New Ageism, and EST are 20th-century movements with aspects of Vedism, Taoism, and Buddhism repackaged for modern Western life.

Kosmorganic aesthetics is an amalgamation of Eastern and Western thought that many 20th century scholars envisioned for the future of humanity. E.Fenollosa, F.S.C. Northorpe, S. Radhakrishanan, Leibniz, R. Rolland, Herman Hesse, and Buckminster Fuller advocated for an intellectual and/or spiritual convergence of East and West. [5] Other scholars, including A. Coomaraswamy, Spinoza, Schopenhauer,Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, J.Needham, and Hegel recognized intersections of Western and Eastern philosophy often construed as contrary to one another. Eastern concepts, Sunyata-emptiness, anayar advaita[6], pu-uncarved block, shoshin-beginner’s mind, wu-wei –effort-less action, compare with Western ideas of desein-being there, transcendental phenomenology, flow states, Overview effect, Universalism, pantheism, and Gottheit/Godhood.[7] Kosmorganic aesthetics embrace many of these inner intelligences..

In the past century, much of Western art has relied on materials, styles, and processes rather than a philosophy for categorization and interpretation. Op Art, Abstract art, Installation art, Minimalism, and Digital Art are named and categorized by their form or style. There are exceptions such as Futurism, Surrealism, Fluxus, Gutai, or Dada, encompassing a philosophy rather than identifying by form. Yet, these exceptions were named and theorized by the artists’ groups of which many had manifestos defining their practice. However, for the most part, modern formalist conventions of categorization pose a challenge for Kosmorganica aesthetics which can be in the form of architecture, music, ritual performance, immersive event, or installation. It could be dense or sparse. It may need a few minutes or hours to digest. It could be immersive surround sound or complete silence. Across the board, Kosmorganica is non-literary. It is sensory and experiential with an initial perceptual reception. To distinguish Kosmorganica, I address the inner aspects provoked by a sensory experience that concerns wellness and the metaphysical.An analysis of art restricted to art history would inevitably fail at proving that art can be an integral human practice.  Kosmorganic aesthetics requires a cross-analysis with other disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, religious studies, neurobiology, consciousness studies, and anthropology included in this website. However, due to this project’s limited scope,  I have just grazed the surface. It is the beginning of a long journey. Like the hundreds of meridian points along the body, I have perforated a few places, joining areas that modern rational minds construe as separate entities from art, such as spirituality and healing. I leave visitors to explore this adventure in hopes that it provokes reflection on the solace of kosmorganic moments as we become more disoriented in the virtual world during the age of globality and climate change.

[1] Organicism is related to holism which claims that parts of a whole are interconnected and cannot be understood without a reference to the whole and is typical of a systems-based approach. One example is holistic health, such as Chinese medicine or acupuncture. Organicism differs from panpsychism which asserts that all things of the universe and not just organic living things have mind/consciousness. For instance, panpsychism believes rocks have mind/soul, but organicists do not. Although McDonough distinguishes ‘resemblance organists’ who assert that non-living things that resemble living entities such as artworks may be regarded as having ‘soul’ and ‘mind’ even if they are not living. In this respect resemblance organicism resemble panpsychism. McDonough,R.(2016,April 16). Organicism. Dictionary of the Philosophy of Mind. https://sites.google.com/site/minddict/organicism

[2] Professor of religion, spirituality, and phenomenology and art, J. Kosky examines different art practices such as Land art, experimental architecture, and light installation and calls them ‘Arts of Wonder.’ Kosky, J. L. (2012). Arts of Wonder. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Alexander Munroe examined Eastern spirituality in contemporary practices that emphasized perception such as painting, land art, installation art, sculpture, expanded media, photography, and music. Munroe, A. (2009). Art of Perceptual Experience. In Munroe, A. Exhibition The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860 – 1989. (pp286-331).New York, NY: Guggenheim Museum.

[3]Reed, A. (2019). Slow art: The experience of looking, sacred images to James Turrell. Oakland: University of California, Press.21

[4] 18th century Europe was exposed to Asia through Christian missions introduced Eastern philosophy, Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism to Germany, England, and France. However, many ideas were romantic notions of the exotic East and were paired with superficial stylization like Chinoiserie and ‘Orientalia,’ much-criticized by Edward Said. Clarke, J. J. (1997). Oriental enlightenment: The encounter between Asian and Western thought. London: Routledge.47-51.

[5] Clarke, J. J. (1997). Oriental enlightenment: The encounter between Asian and Western thought. London: Routledge. 3-108.

[6] True knowledge of an object is obtained when knower and known, seer and seen, melt in the act of transcending distinction (anayar advaita). Coomaraswamy refers to the Upanishads that refer to how the mind produces devata or aspects of God, and reality comes from within, not exterior. Knowing an object isn’t measured physically, but the observer merges with the observed in a transcendental process. Coomaraswamy, A. K. (1956). The transformation of nature in art. New York: Dover Publications.6.

[7] Gottheit refers to Neoplatonist, medieval Scholastic philosopher Meister Eckhart’s sermons on the concept of Godhood or the state of being God. This concept appears in Vedism in the ancient Advaita Vedic text, Upanishads.