Eddie Rifkind: Artistic View Behind Human Consciousness

Interview by Jennifer E. Smith-Williams

Q: Do you consider yourself an abstract expressionist with both your fine art and music?

A: Definitely. My art really indulges in the tension between representation and abstraction. I’m fascinated with the implication or illusion of a context. I try to do the same thing with my ‘audio paintings,’ as I like to think of them. Just like the images being used as a subject for abstraction, the musical form has some expected or implied structures, which I can then really mess with. That violation of form, I think, expands the musical expression beyond the dimension it lives in, to a new frame of reference. Sort of like the science/fiction metaphor of ‘punching through the fabric of time and space to a new universe.’ I think that metaphor is spot on regardless of scale or context; when you work with a specified art ‘form,’ you are within the confines of your dimension.

I love the disruption of those barriers and formal expectations, because then the questions asked by the piece become exponentially broader in potential definition and scope. I like a new vantage point or a new pair of spectacles with which the listener(s) can choose to filter the composition as they experience it. You could call it an attempt to expand the consciousness (or at least imagination) of the listener.

Q: Do you think both your fine art and music reflect your psychological perception or your philosophical perception of human life?

A: Perhaps. I feel most often that I’m trying to define a universal language free of meaning as we expect meaning to be. I’m trying to find and play with something so abstract and distilled that it resonates with everyone, even though the audience may not know exactly why. In that way I feel like I am always looking for a sympathetic wavelength in humanity to hook into. In a similar way, I feel that certain emotional dimensions of humanity can act as that abstract bridge into the world of creative expression. I often think I’m expressing broadly humanly relatable feelings of yearning, longing, fear, existential confusion and transformation from a realm of representational form to a chaotic mesh of abstraction and expression which is often as much of a mystery to me as it is to someone looking at my work.

globuleQ: Your piece “Globule” has a similar composition to that of Lee Krasner’s (American, 1908–1984) work “Untitled” (9149). In your opinion, why do you think some artists create similar expressions in their work and does this reflect a similar psychological or philosophical perception of their reality?

A: I think that similar expressions in separate artists often have to do with our shared humanity and striving for context in a huge, complex, strangely broken world. We all have to deal with it as human beings, each one of us traveling our life path. As such we’re born with parallels.

Some of our parallels are products of our shared history and culture as well. We naturally look to the world around us to find relatable experiences. We’re looking for how we fit into it all on a basic, often subconscious level. We find art and cultural influences that reflect the searching of those before us, and discover context or validity in using similar expressive tools and/or languages. Thus we inherit some similarity of psychological or philosophical expression and perception from our culture.

Beyond cultural and environmental influences, I believe there are infinite depths of inward and outward connection available to the human consciousness, as expressed by countless artists of all sorts. We define and discover this connection as we continue to create and explore, as individuals and as a human race. We map it out with the things we create. So it is the shared, ever-moving human experience that creates these psychological and philosophical parallels – facilitated as much by the perception of the viewer as the observed connection between the artists themselves.

In my own creative work, I’m fascinated with the ‘illusion of context.’ I want the viewing and listening mind to enter and fill in its own connection and emotional or psychological context. I like to think I’m facilitating that kind of connection between the audience and themselves as well as between the audience and the work.

Q: In your opinion, do you think tapping into creative outlets is a means of dealing with chronic illness, and if so, do you think the term “art therapy” takes on a new appreciation?

A: I really do. I think sometimes we hear terms like ‘art therapy’ and think of something soft, not serious, not quite as credible sounding as things more official or clinical. But I myself have often been saved from very bad emotional places by my choice to work it out in creative form. The science coming out these days regarding the mind/body connection and the very physical symptoms of mental illness make it clearer than ever that mental, emotional and somatic exercises like art have a real therapeutic value. I think art is a very credible form of meditation as well; good for mind and body.

Q: Where do you visualize yourself ten years from now?

A: In a cushy psychiatric ward, collecting royalties. Ahem… but seriously, I hope to travel and create, interfacing as much as possible with the different sides of this world, learning more and more about this mysterious journey. I hope to have created a library of video and audio pieces that go far deeper into painting with sound and playing with time through video animation as well as audio composition. And I certainly hope I discover far more than I contrive.

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