Sunday, December 14, 2014

Infinity Imagined

Michel Serres, the great philosopher of science, likes to use the experiment of touching one’s own lips to point out how we are a subject and an object, a knower and known, simultaneously. Try it! Touch your lips like you are trying to quiet someone and feel first-hand how one moment you are in your finger, feeling your lips, and then in the next you are in your lips, feeling your finger! Feel yourself oscillate between the two positions effortlessly, naturally. In this simple activity, where are “you”? You’re in two places at once! How can this be? From a direct, first person experience, you are both the feeling of a subject knowing and you are an object known. You are inside and outside, self and no-self, emptiness and form at once with a gesture. Amazing!

I found a great new blog called Infinity Imagined with beautiful gifs and ideas you will love if you love space and science.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Importance of Story and Metaphor

Michael Garfield's talk "Entertainment as Social Action" is by far my new favorite of his. And I can't believe it! He mentions my work on landscapes in track 5: "The Importance of Story and Metaphor"! Thank you Michael!

For anyone interested, here is a short introduction to Landscape Theology.

Landscape Theology

Glimmering Space (the murder site of Matthew Shepard), oil on wood, 24" x 24", 2017

Where are you from?
Landscapes play a prominent role in our lives and myth-histories, and yet they are rarely acknowledged as actors. Geographers tell us that the landscape is an inert stage where historical individuals act. However, the story I want to tell is how places are “agentic.” Landscapes enable, inspire and constrain our activities. We are literally moved by them, and landscape elements such as trees, rivers, mountains and fields attract us to their surfaces and they shape societies. For example, archaeologist Christopher Tilley (2004) argues that our prehistoric social identities were created, reproduced, and transformed by stone outcroppings. Rock forms were landmarks and social sites, pegs and attractors within our cognitive maps, and viewing rock art was an important process by which we could tap into ancestral powers at specific locations. It also helped us anchor identity in those powers and locations.
Landscapes fill our lives with time and space. People pilgrimage through them as a form of their religious and secular, everyday lives. Through time-space routines of movement through landscapes we know where we are in relation to familiar places and objects and “how to go on” in the world. We also use them to ‘place’ a memory.
Space is not homogenous; some spaces are “wiser” and more sacred than others. Theologian Belden Lane (2001) says sacred space is a “storied place” because certain locales come to be recognized as sacred through the stories told about them. Chthonic forces are also at work in the complex process of sacralization. Geological features inspire specific stories, and only then can the sacred place hold and transmit culture across time. This is one reason why anthropologist Keith Basso (1996) assures us that “wisdom sits in places.” Basso also found that many Apache believe they loose their minds and fall into darkness when they forget the ancestral names of specific stones and places in the landscape.
In 1836, Emerson declared “every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact.” Harvard Divinity School’s foremost Talmudic Scholar, Jon Levenson, makes a similar observation: “Geography is simply a visible form of theology.” Mircea Eliade is famous for pointing out the large, cosmic mountain that permeates many world religions as “axis mundi,” and we read in Judeo-Christian scripture again and again that “God is our rock.” Landscapes are situated inside people as people are situated inside landscapes. Feminist and semiotic Theologian, Sally McFague, puts it well: “the interior landscape is influenced by the exterior.”
The profound truth about religions isn’t just what Thomas Tweed says in his groundbreaking book, Crossing and Dwelling, that “religions begin and end in bodies.” Religions begin and end in landscapes. Bodies begin and end in landscapes. Landscapes, in a sense, begin and end in bodies and religions. Just think: religious disputes often center on landscapes, holy lands, promised lands, and the more basic conceptions of dwelling in one place and crossing over into another.
The geographical center of the Islamic faith is an enshrined black stone, the al-Ḥajar al-Aswadat the Kaaba or “Cube” in Mecca. The oldest known Buddhist temple in the world, just recently unearthed in Nepal, is organized around an ancient tree. Today, people travel from all over the world to visit waterfalls, caves, and trees in national parks, and the 2013 United States government shutdown highlighted how economically and culturally valuable these spaces truly are. Landmarks and rivers move people into specific locations.
A horizon becomes a metaphor for the limits of our knowledge. Land and sky become metaphors for the body and mind, and they affect how we experience both. Spinoza may have been onto something when he regarded human emotions such as love, hatred, envy, “and other agitations of the mind,” not as vices of human nature “but as properties pertaining to it in the same way as heat, cold, storm, thunder, and such pertain to the nature of the atmosphere.” Theologian Beldan Lane: “There is an unaccountable solace that fierce landscapes offer to the soul. They heal, as well as mirror, the brokeness we find within.” Sky mind, ocean mind, desert mind, landscape mind.
The distinction of inside awareness from outside stimulus is only a convention. Merleau-Ponty describes the sky “out there”: “As I contemplate the blue of the sky I am not set over against it as a non-cosmic subject; I do not possess it in thought, or spread out toward it some idea of blue…I abandon myself to it and plunge into this mystery, it thinks itself in me.” Landscapes and humans exchange ideas and change one another.
A vast, uncluttered place can operate on the human mind to give rise to a singularity of vision. There is healing power in mountain silence and desert indifference. Landscapes point out “what matters,” or what, as a material substrate for the meta-system of culture, remains. Like our genes, they are more permanent than we are, and thus the landscape becomes a symbol for the eternal (Eliade’s “eternal return”).
In our myths, the prophetic vision always occurs outside the city and in the landscape. Abraham leaves Ur and finds God (and Melchizedek!) in the landscape. Moses leaves the walls of Egypt and finds God in the desert; Buddha leaves his tribe and finds God under a tree; Mohammed leaves civilization and finds God in a cave; Joseph Smith leaves his organized religion and finds God in the forest; Carlos Castaneda leaves the modern city and finds God in the jungle. This could be because as we move into the wilderness, the lights of civilization recede and then disappear. The landscape of nature gets bigger, and the stars can speak to one of vast reaches of cosmic time; stones murmur information from deep time; rivers, winds and rains tell stories of ethereal, fleeting time where nothing lasts long enough to even exist. This transient quality of the landscape is reflected in the Japanese Buddhist ukiyo-e “floating world” pictures, which flatten sky, mountain and sea into patterns on semi-transparent rice-paper. These oriental visions are the mirror opposite of the solid, stone, eternal landscapes and deep spaces of occidental spirituality.
Vincent Van Gogh left his job as a preacher to study God more directly through “the language of nature.” In the final years of his life, Cezanne painted over sixty images of the same scene; a view over fields to Mont Saint-Victoire. Landscape painters explore ways in which humans and landscapes and history are involved with each other, intertwined, tied together, depend on each other. They also show how the lines between imagination and our material reality are blurring.
Now it is widely accepted within the humanities and sciences that subject and object, mind and matter, human and landscape co-constitute each other. The seemingly irretrievable Cartesian wedge between the material world and the human mind is finally being dissolved. The reciprocity of imagination and landscape, of mind/bodies and worlds, of art and life implies that mythic narratives are not merely poetic descriptions of a certain world, but material performances of one as well.
Words, ideas, and basic experiences are lifted from the objective world, and because they become the substantive base from which all our thoughts and mythic narratives appear, we can conclude there is a material landscape from which the mythic archetypes are formed. These archetypes do not have real, breathing, itching, leaking bodies, but they are always generated by bodies which are situated within material landscapes. Landscapes are also always situated inside bodies, and the way we experience the sky and the earth influences values we attribute to the above and the below, which relates to how we experience our mouths and anuses, which is projected onto stories about the sky and earth, and around the circle we go.
What is objective and universal may be called transpersonal, or ‘archetypal,’ in the Jungian sense; it is that more-than-human place we share with others, that “earthly ground of rock and soil that we share with the other animals and the plants” (Abram 1996: 281). Merleau-Ponty: “My body is made of the same flesh as the world.” Therefore, if we wish to look for the “real archetypes,” we may want to pay attention to landscapes and their elements.
The cultural and material power of landscapes serve as a reminder that there are geological conditions that make possible the rise of consciousness, language, myth, and a sense of the sacred. These landforms operate in conjunction with sociocultural dynamics such as class, gender, and sex to weave our stories, our lives, together.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Dark Side of Blue Light

Well, if ISIS and ebola are not enough, here is a killer that is staring you in the face RIGHT NOW! Harvard Medical School claims that blue light, the light emitted by your computer, disturbs your ability to sleep, and contributes to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. 

What you can do to keep these symptoms at bay: 

Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.

Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.

If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses.
Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.

There is also sunset it changes your monitor to a redder, more natural temperature. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


SBTRKT, one of my favorite composers, just came out with a new album you can listen to for free here.  Also, I sold a painting! "Flesh of the World" sold to composer Chuck Wild, creator of Liquid Mind and old friend of my parents. What an honor!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Website update

New paintings, honors, and thoughts can be found on my website.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


 We are: cosmic blood worms
 disintegrating confetti
 death alive in every moment,
human - animals, angel meat, flesh, figures on a ground of expansive, imaginary worlds,
behind and within which is an infinite field of care, time, and energy.

Monday, August 25, 2014

American Tragety Sites

Some landscapes are celebrated as sacred sites because of the stories that are told about them, whereas others are marked as horrific sites of tragedy, humiliation, and cultural shame. To the uninformed eye, both places look the same—expansive, hilly, idyllic—which attests to the notion that every landscape is not just a physical place, but is also what theologian Belden Lane calls a “storied place.”

For American Tragedy Sitesfirst I research the historic place, and then I sketch, take photographs, and paint it. I finish the composition in my studio by mixing the rendered landscape with a totem of other symbols and nonobjective spaces.
Through the languages of realist landscape painting and religious icon-painting, I aim to honor these shadowed lands as holy lands, and to disturb conventional distinctions between what is sacred and what is shameful.

I believe certain landscapes offer insight into how we grapple with tragedy. Some sites of cultural shame are hidden away, avoided, or “obliterated,” to use geographer Kenneth Foote’s term. These sorrow-filled sites can get lost often by hiding in plain sight. For example, guests can pass through the old Hyatt Hotel lobby in Kansas City, drink coffee and mingle, and never know about the event that happened there in 1981—”the worst structural disaster in American history!” There is no plaque, no memorial, no spot to lay flowers or light candles.  The historic event, then, is more easily forgotten.

This intentional oversight or forgetting happens all the time.  If the memory attached to the site is too painful, or too shaming, the culture will attempt to erase it by re-landscaping or by destroying records. Salem, for example, kept no official record of the small hill where nineteen victims of the witchcraft scare were executed, so today its exact location is unknown. Likewise, the fence where Matthew Shepard was killed in Laramie, Wyoming, was promptly removed and the street names were changed to confuse tourists (“Out of sight, out of mind”). In both cases, the true location of the historic event lives on only in hearsay.
But now we have GPS, and landscapes push back, and people get behind them and lobby to have them preserved. The Minidoka Japanese Internment Camp site in south central Idaho, a true national shame site, was converted into farmland and torn down as quickly as it was constructed. But activists got funding and rebuilt its barbed-wire fence and ominous watchtower, two important communicators of the daily psychological experience of the Japanese-Americans imprisoned there during WWII. A few other elements of the Minidoka landscape remain: Fujitaro Kubota’s eerie rock garden, dusty labyrinthian pathways, the scorching sun, rushing river, and desert indifference.

If for some reason the actual tragedy site is truly lost or inaccessible, a culture will construct a miniature version, a memorial across the street. In the case of Matthew Shepard’s memorial, it is a bench at the university miles away. But there are also memorial gardens, parks, museums, and trees! There are memorial trees, like the prayer tree in the center of the killing fields of the Bear River Massacre site, probably the greatest forgotten Indian massacre in American military history.  “The first and the worst,” and it’s also easily one of the most beautiful landscapes and memorials I have ever seen. The place is woven into a wide river valley in the foothills of the Rockies, swarming with wildlife, flowers, and hot springs (the Shoshoni vacationed there every winter). The tree is somewhat hidden next to others behind the official, unimpressive, monolithic memorial standing in a gravel parking lot next to a trash can. The tree’s lower half is covered in freshly made dream catchers, medicine bundles, stuffed animals, beaded necklaces, colored flags, and gem stones. Buckets full of toys and chewing tobacco hang from branches near the trunk.

Every January the surviving Shoshoni and others gather at the tree, refresh the offerings, and pray that the Warm Dance will happen again one day.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

new work

here is my studio at Ucross

Monday, August 11, 2014

I'm quoted in this article on huffpo!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014


 The road to my studio
 the fields behind my studio
the creek next to my studio where I swim

Friday, July 11, 2014


This painting won 2nd place in the River Market Regional Exhibition! Check out the online catalogue.
The head curator from the Nelson-Atkins museum of Art  was the judge. I feel good.

"Titterington’s series of sky paintings are intended to “bring the sky down, and to highlight the ever-present source of light and weather. When we open our eyes, sky provides the space and the light for seeing. Sky is openness or transparency itself, sheer luminosity. It is nature’s most elusive realm, and it provides a great metaphor for the self. As Rilke says, our inner lives are, for the most part, intensified skies.” " 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Kyle

It's all in your brain. 

Scientists have found that dogs across a variety of breeds align their body axis with the Earth's magnetic field before squatting to poop. "Our analysis of the raw data ... indicates that dogs not only prefer north-south direction, but at the same time they also avoid east-west direction. It is unclear why the dogs find the planet's north-south axis more comforting."

Friday, May 02, 2014


My painting retreat in Atlanta has been fruitful. I have also completed my manuscript "Landscape Theology" and am in the process of editing it down to 35,000 words (about 120-140 pages). Here are some of the almost-finished paintings. 

Here is a Ram Dass lecture I have been listening to at least twice a year for over ten years, and it still brings me clarity. 

And here is a great, short TED talk that is inspirational and totally relevant. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Reality Sandwich

My new essay introducing Landscape Theology made it to the  front page of Reality Sandwich. Please check it out, logon, and upvote me, if you have any extra time.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Pearl Gate got in to a this group show in Seattle

Pearl Gate, 30" x 30", oil on panel, 2013

I am now a minister

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Kids in Mexico

I said "Line up your shoes." 

"Let go of me so I can hang by myself."

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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