Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm) Newsletter Number 35 - 27 November 2006
Copyright 2006 Meru Foundation
Edited by Levanah Tenen FROM THE EDITOR
Thank you to all who answered my "mailing list update" query earlier
this year, and for the words of encouragement many of you added. They
make a difference! If you missed any issues of eTORUS due to bounced
emails, past issues are posted on our website at http://www.meru.org/Newsletter/journalindex.html.
Now, a "heads-up:" We are expanding and revising our hand-assembled
Meru Research Sampler album of essays and graphics, and are publishing
it as a set of seven 8.5" x 11" softcover "broadside" volumes. Six
volumes are in greyscale, and the seventh -- made up exclusively of our
posters -- is full-color. As a set, they will be priced more affordably
than the current hand-produced Research Sampler, even with the newly
added material. Later this week, I'll send an eTORUS announcing their
availability on www.meetingtent.com,
and post some special introductory prices. In the meantime, go to http://www.meetingtent.com/MeruBroadsides-Covers.html for a preview of the contents.
You might also check out our growing library of "Meru video highlights"
posted on Google Video. An index (with live links) is at http://www.meru.org/InternetVideo.html -- or just go to video.google.com and search on "Tenen". (We are also
developing a new dedicated website for these video excerpts, and
possibly other material that we call "Extreme Kabbalah", at
www.extremekabbalah.org.) Each mini-video is a "nugget" that can
intrigue new viewers; as we expand this library, we will also start to
include excerpts from our archives of unreleased video material. Please
share these Meru video links -- the more people who see and are
attracted to our work, the better.
**************** BOOK REVIEW
Three years ago, eTORUS published a short essay by Israeli artist and
educator Dr. Menahem Alexenberg titled "A New Islamic Map for Peace,"
proposing a way to "re-frame" the Middle Eastern conflict that could
open up the possibility of a peaceful solution. (See
http://www.meru.org/Newsletter/SpecialNoticeAlexenberg.html) Today Dr.
Alexenberg continues his work towards a positive future. Below is my
review of his most recent book.
THE FUTURE OF ART IN A DIGITAL AGE
by Menahem (Mel) Alexenberg, Ph.D.
(c)2006 Intellect Ltd., ISBN 1-84150-136-0
Last month I had the pleasure of reading a new book by sculptor and
artist Dr. Menahem Alexenberg, "The Future of Art in a Digital Age:
From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness". Dr. Alexenberg's premise,
as I understand it, is that the participatory trend in contemporary art
(often made possible by new technology) is a reflection of what he
calls "Hebraic consciousness", and that this is replacing "Hellenic
consciousness", which is the concept that a created artwork exists
separate/independent from its audience/observer. "Hebraic consciousness
shares with postmodernism a dynamic, creative, playful consciousness
that promotes the interplay between multiple perspectives and
alternating viewpoints from inside and outside," says Dr. Alexenberg in
his Introduction. In succeeding chapters, he presents both underlying
theory and examples from his own life-experience as an artist.
In addition to being a working sculptor, Dr. Alexenberg is also a
teacher, and he devotes his first two chapters to presenting the
background which will allow readers to appreciate the rest of his book.
In the first chapter, he playfully and anecdotally introduces some of
the Hebrew terminology and approach to learning he will be using later
on. I found this material both entertaining and easy to follow (in
part, of course, because I'm already familiar with much of the
terminology he used). As I have no background in art criticism or the
history of art, the material in Dr. Alexenberg's second chapter,
"Semiotic Perspectives," was unfamiliar to me, and therefore it was
slower going -- but understandable and well-presented. These two
chapters together provide the perspective from which Dr. Alexenberg
wants the reader to see the remainder of his book, which is a personal
and feeling narration of highlights from his own teaching and artistic
career that expand on and illustrate his point.
Since Dr. Alexenberg is also a friend, I have known about many of the
major art projects he writes about -- the "Lights/Orot" project
produced in coordination with the MIT Media Lab and Yeshiva University,
for example; or his release of giant styrofoam Hebrew letters, with
balloons representing the triple-tagin, to fly in the Israeli desert
sky. But I had not known the story behind these works -- nor how these
major, innovative projects evolved as a result of acts of the
"audience". In particular, Dr. Alexenberg's experience when he was
invited in 1983 to participate in a major Munich art exhibition, and
how that exhibition painfully changed as a result of the actions of
some who saw it, is something I would leave for him to tell. Suffice it
to say that he and his wife and partner, artist Miriam Benjamin, are
world travelers who over their lifetimes have taken their sense of
fitness, rightness, and beauty with them literally to the four corners
of the earth, and throughtheir works -- which are as diverse as
sculpture on a desert hilltop to angels on subway walls -- they invite
all who look, to join with them in seeing a world which can be healed
through the loving insistence on truth.
So -- I would recommend Dr. Alexenberg's book, "The Future of Art in a
Digital Age," to anyone interested in art, in learning, or in changing
our world. (I mean this quite seriously.) I would recommend serious
consideration of some of his ideas -- for example, his essay on the
"New Islamic Map for Peace," which you can find on Meru Foundation's
website at http://www.meru.org/Newsletter/SpecialNoticeAlexenberg.html.
My only criticism of this book is that there are too few photos of his
artworks, and none in color, but you can find color reproductions of
the works Dr. Alexenberg writes about on his website, www.melalexenberg.com.
Thank you for reading this issue of the Meru Foundation eTORUS
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