Kosmorganica aesthetics
in the digital age

For thousands of years, art was embedded in cultural rituals that encompassed spirituality, healing, storytelling, and community. Places of worship like the ancient Egyptian Mystery Schools, Ch’an Buddhists pagodas, and Hindu Vedism temples were elaborately built and adorned with paintings, shrines, and patterned reliefs. Community members gathered together under these ornamented roofs to sing, chant, and listen to stories to frame and guide their lives. Communal bathing rituals served both to cleanse the body and mind in serene Buddhist temples and the ornate hammams of Mesopotamia. [ figure 1 ] Creative production was an integral life practice and not a separate product nor trade. According to philosopher M. Eckhart, the West began severing art from its role as something integral to everyday life as early as the 15th century.[1] In many people’s lives, art has become a profession that produces only aesthetic products detached from spiritual, wellness, and ritual connection. Artists and their work grew apart from the rest of the workforce until they gradually became segregated in an elite Art world. 

However, in the past few decades, there has been a revival of art and design practices that include metaphysical, healing, and social aspects. The movement is not nostalgic but rather a restoration of art as a holistic practice accessible to everybody. They are often described as ambient, otherworldly, sensory, ecosophic, [2]and harmonic.[ figure 2 ]  I believe there is a correlation between the recent surge of sensory art, I call Kosmorganic aesthetics, with global consciousness, concern about climate change, and an increase in digital toxicity. I call these integral sensory artworks Kosmorganic aesthetics, an umbrella term that encompasses 20+ subcategories[3] of contemporary art under such labels as Ambient media, Land art, and experimental architecture.[4]

I have created a Frequency Bathing art walk of sound healing and fractal patterns to illustrate my ideas. In this art walk, drone sounds and vocalizations play in visitors’ headphones while they walk and pause, following sound cues, to concentrate on natural patterns. Cultures worldwide have used sound frequencies in chanting and vocalization to synchronize mind and body to the vibrations of one another, the natural environment, and, ultimately, the cosmos.[5] The music includes vowel sounds taken from a vocalization chart by the sound healer Jonathan Goldman. [ figure 3 ]These sounds stimulate the seven regions of the body known as chakras. [6] Visitors look through viewfinders made of wooden hand paddles to focus on plant growth, cloud formations, the creek’s path, and the mountain range. [ figure 4 ]The keyholes in the viewfinders are the basic shapes—circle, square, triangle, pentagon—that make up all complex forms in nature. Gazing at geometric patterns found in nature increases alpha waves attributed to improving creativity, well-being, and empathy.[7] With sound, light, color, and patterns, I have designed a contemplative experience to elicit higher states of awareness, leading to compassion, innovation, and generosity. With such prosocial behaviors at risk due to our digital lifestyle, Kosmorganic aesthetics’ practice of reintroducing art into our lives as ritual, beyond art for art’s sake, is all the more valuable.[8]

[1] Here I refer to the insight of Eckhart who asserts that every activity includes an aesthetic process. ‘The artist is not a special kind of man, but every man is a special kind of artist.’ Yet, the (early 15th c.) modern system divided labor into a caste system. Art became an emotional profession separate from theintellectual professions of ‘workmen.’ Products became valued over people, and art became a luxury activity. Coomaraswamy, A. K. (1956). The transformation of nature in art. New York: Dover Publications, pp. 64-65.

[2] Guattari, Félix. The Three Ecologies. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014.

[3] At the time of writing, Kosmorganica is an umbrella term that includes, but is not limited to: Expanded media, Visual music, Mapping, Immersive media, Intermedia, Transmedia, Ambient, Ambient media, Sound art, Sound walks, Art walks, Ritualistic Performance art, Sublime, Atmospheric art, Contemplative arts, Multisensory rooms, Experimental architecture, Installation art, Visual Music, and AV performance. Not all artworks under these labels are Kosmorganica.

[4] Paul Roquet describes ambient media as music, video, literature, and fashion that tune the self to the exterior environment, focusing on mood and emotional attunement. Brian Eno coined the term and describes Ambient music as providing ‘calm and space to think while maintaining emotional freedom and subjective interest that earlier forms of background music sought to erase. It is ignorable as it is interesting.’ Roquet, P. (2016). Ambient media: Japanese atmospheres of self. Minneapolis, Minn: University of Minnesota Press.

[5] Goldman writes about vocalization, chanting, and hymns inKabbalah, Sufism, Catholicism, shamanism in Mongolia, Mayan religious practices, Aboriginal religions, Native American religions, and tantric meditation in Tibetan and Hindu cultures. Goldman, J. (2002). Healing sounds; The power of harmonics. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.39-75.

[6] Sound healer Jonathan Goldman designed a vocalization chart that correlated with seven regions of the body known as chakras. His system is similar to Sufi Pir Vilayat Khan’s chart. Khan (1916-2004) was head of the Sufi order of Europe. Goldman, J. (2002). Healing sounds; The power of harmonics. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.49.118.

[7] EEG data suggests alpha brain waves correlate with creative thinking. Lustenberger, C., Boyle, M. R., Foulser, A. A., Mellin, J. M., & Fröhlich, F. (June 01, 2015). Functional role of frontal alpha oscillations in creativity. Cortex, 67, 74-82.

Studies were conducted on monks highly trained in using meditation to reach high brain wave states (alpha/gamma). The practice of meditation claims to promote creativity, compassion, clarity and heightened awareness. These studies measure these practitioners’ brain waves, which may lead to empirical evidence that chanting, meditation, and visualization techniques increase brain waves that correlate to prosocial behavior. Lutz, A., Greischar, L. L., Rawlings, N. B., Ricard, M., Davidson, R. J., & Singer, B. H. (November 16, 2004). Long-Term Meditators Self-Induce High-Amplitude Gamma Synchrony during Mental Practice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101, 46, 16369-16373.

Hagerhall, C.M., Laike, T., Taylor, R. P., Küller, M., Küller, R. & Martin, T. P. (January 1, 2008). Investigations of Human EEG Response to Viewing Fractal Patterns, 37(10), 1488-94. https://doi-org.colorado.idm.oclc.org/10.1068/p5918[8]Art for art’s sake, an 18th century French Academy notion wherein art is divorced from all realms of life except reason.