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The Ascent of Orpheus
posted: June 29, 2015

Adi Da describes his suites as “abstract narratives.” Thus, the individual images do not tell a story in any conventional sense. Rather, they generate a field of intuitively felt meaning that coincides with the essential meaning of the myth, as re-imagined by Adi Da. The “story” of Adi Da’s Orpheus One and Linead One, echoing but reframing the story of the Greek myth, is of a heroic being from the world of light descending into the world of darkness—in order to bring his beloved back to the light (rather than merely to the domain of the living). In this story, the world into which Orpheus descends is the world as we commonly know it—a world which is (even unwittingly) made dark by the human collective of unillumined beings (or egos), who live and act on the presumption that the ego (or the sense of, and identity with, a separate “I”) is what is of supreme value in life. In Adi Da’s retelling, Orpheus succeeds in bringing his beloved back to the light. Orpheus must still undertake the ordeal portrayed in the classical myth in order to save his beloved, but, altogether, the story revealed in the Orpheus and Linead suites is one of victorious ascent.

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Adi Da intended his works to be neither “mere abstraction,” which he defined as “pattern only,” nor “mere representation,” or “replication of the conventionally ‘real’ (or merely familiar).” He intended his works to convey meaning, but a meaning that paradoxically lies “between and beyond both representation and abstraction.” Thus, Adi Da strove to create images that were always meaningful but never merely (in the conventional sense) “recognizable”—whether the images are apparently figurative or abstract. Adi Da defined the intention underlying his work with representation and abstraction in a series of aphoristic principles, some of which are presented here.

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In the course of his years of work in digital media, Adi Da developed and defined precise working principles of abstraction. In Orpheus One and Linead One, he made use of two such working principles, which he named “Geome” and “Linead.” Geomes are the “primary geometries” of square (or rectangle), circle, and triangle. Lineads, in contrast, are gestural lines, freely drawn (or brush painted) by the artist’s hand. Both Geome and Linead are abstract (rather than representational) forms—although they can be composed into aggregate forms that have representational impact.

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In this summary essay, Adi Da Samraj frames the cultural “projects” of certain key movements of twentieth- and twenty-first-century art (“modernism” and post-“modernism”) and contrasts these movements with his own art (Transcendental Realism). He identifies the crux of each movement in terms of (1) the mode of reality that is taken to be the necessary subject of that movement’s art and (2) the method used to convey the artist’s “message” about reality.

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