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Dialogue about the mandalic art of Digital Dave

posted Sep 6, 2010, 6:45 AM by Annalisa Ippolito   [ updated Sep 6, 2010, 9:49 AM ]
I met David Turner during the "International Symposium on the Mandala" in Rome, Italy, in 2009 where he participated in the exhibition with his digital mandalas.
They are an extraordinary example of an encounter between nature, sacred geometry and digital art.
We spent some time talking about his art and sharing our views about mandala.
So I was curious and I contacted him asking to explain more about his art, and his gorgeous Mandalas
Here is our dialogue about the mandalic art of Digital Dave.
Annalisa: Dave, when did you start to create and study mandala?
Dave: My earliest dreams were swirling mandalas. Two of my favorite toys as a child were a kaleidoscope and a spirograph. In college I experimented with video feedback, an electronic way of creating interactive mandalas. I was fascinated. I began using a computer to create mandalas in the late 1980s after having drawn them by hand from age 6. It wasn't until about five years ago that I truly began to understand what mandalas are and their significance in our world. I've been studying them much more closely since then.

A: How did you start to use digital art to create mandala? 
D: Just before Christmas in 1998, my mother died unexpectedly.I was truly devastated. I realized that life is short. I had been working on a series of digitally animated mandalas and decided it was time to finish them. I spent the next year-and-a-half rendering, editing and musically scoring Kaleida Dreams.

What is the primary goal of your combined use of sacred geometry, nature and transformation? 
D: Transformation is a powerful way of showing how wonderfully interconnected all things are and the grand possibilities of life. Sacred geometry arises from nature, and using it to create mandalas from images of nature makes for very compelling art. I believe we can make of our lives whatever we choose. Transformation reaffirms this idea. Change your thoughts and you will change your life. My goal is to celebrate the beauty in all things and encourage everyone to transform their lives.

A: How the mandala can express “transformation” and “light shining within each of us”, 
to use your words? 
D: Mandalas are elegant expressions of sacred geometry, which can be seen in all things. In the midst of life's daily chaos, we are, I think, drawn to the order and symmetry of mandalas. They are both calming and centering.
I believe we are all made of the same stuff -- light. And light is love. When we come to see the light within ourselves we begin to see it shining in everyone and everything. 

A: Could you give some suggestions about the use of photography in digital mandala?
D: Using photography as a base for creating mandalas can produce spectacular results. I've been told by some that the mandalas I create from nature photography are somehow more satisfying than the ones created from pure color and form.
I am working on a new series of lenticular prints called Floral Mandalas, where I start with a photo of a flower and then digitally transform the flower into a mandala. The lenticular print allows you to see both images, the flower from one angle and the mandala from another. The dissolve between them  illustrates the idea of transformation incredibly well. They are magical.

A: Could you give to our readers tips about the process of creation of digital mandala?
D: I keep an open mind as I am never quite sure what the process of creation will produce. I try lots of different techniques and am always pushing myself to develop new ones.  Not every attempt to create a mandala is successful, which is ok. Some days everything turns out beautifully, and some days I save nothing.

Where do you find the inspiration for your creation?
D: I find inspiration in simple things like sunshine and silence. I am also inspired by the complexities of human emotion and the way we interact with each other. I also frequently meditate on sacred geometry.

A: How many time you need to create a digital mandala?
Some mandalas only take a couple of hours. Some may take several days. I keep working on a particular image until it feels right. I dedicate a huge portion of my time daily to the creative process. Some images I set aside for a week or two before I begin  again and finish them.

A: And how many time you need to create a video?
D: I often spend days, even weeks refining a video segment and test rendering the special effects that make the mandala move and evolve with the music. I've had one minute sequences take 20+ hours to render. I put nearly 8,000 hours into Kaleida.

A: How do you choose the music? Is it part of your path of creation from beginning?
D: For Kaleida, the music was written and performed to the completed video. I worked closely with the musicians to make sure the music expressed the intent of the videos. I am working on a new video where I am choosing the music first and animating the mandalas to that music.

Do you think that there are common prejudices or misunderstandings about digital mandalas? If so, what are these common errors?
D: A few people have said to me the screen savers on their computers look just like the Kaleida videos. In ways they are similar but if you saw them side by side you'd never say that. Not enough people know about mandalas and their rich history and cultural significance.

A: Could you give some ideas and suggestion for people that want to enter into a digital mandala?
D: Yes. Go for it. There are all kinds of ways of creating digital mandalas and it is easy to get started. Creating mandalas is a healing and joyous experience certainly worth the time and energy you invest.  Seek satisfaction as you go along as well as with the end result. I have learned that it is as much about the process of creation as it is in the finished work.

A: What are your plans for the future?
D: I plan to continue exploring mandalas and creating art, as well as doing everything I possibly can to honor the work and continue moving forward. I am currently expanding the Floral Mandalas series and working on a new video. I am also working harder to find more ways of sharing the work with others.
A: Many thanks to share with me and all the readers your thoughts!

For more information about Digital Dave and his work http://www.digitaldave.com/