Artistic Intent

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Mapping Generations

'Mapping Generations' represents the personal aspects of generations of descendants and an immeasurable number of generations through time. The Mapping Series is based on research into particular aspects of my ancestors dating back to 1764. Actual family names and dates replace every Tenth number on the spine of the chequebook stubs. They physically denote Centuries in time.
The numbers Ten or Tenth have particular meaning in this work. They form part of many words we use in everyday language which relate to physical and mental states in humans; for example tense, tenacity, tendon, tentuous and tender. The word Ten is also considered an Hebraism and an indefinite term for 'Many Children'.

The Ten Commandments have numerical and spiritual connotations. According to The Bible Code (Drosnin 1997:95), the words 'ten', 'thought' and 'computer' are embedded in the cryptic letters. This is of interest to me as I am currently creating patterns which map many layers of generations on computer.
Eighteen family names are at the bottom of the work. Eighteen is 'Chai' in Hebrew. It means Life.

Rows of numberless and nameless chequebook stubs, 2500 in all, are in the main body of work and on the curved aluminium frame at the bottom of the artwork allude to the incalculable number of individuals through time, past, present and future.

Included amongst the family names are my great grandfather, Hermann Eisner and his wife Eva, (married in 1888). Eisner invented the first ‘voice box’ in Germany and assisted the German army in the First World War by setting up a clinic for people who had been shot (or otherwise injured) in the throat. Eisner invented the formula for the 78 speed record in Germany and was the director of the Homocord Record Company in Berlin.

Book: Mapping Generations

The Book which accompanies the artwork includes a brief account of my father’s family history and his collection of information on his ancestors. I make reference to music and the invention of the 78 speed record by Hermann Eisner, by showing a visual interpretation of the path taken by the stylus in the groove of a vinyl record carrying vertical modulation. Written in the book are also the formula used to make the records.
Reference to his wife Eva, my great grandmother, is made by tracking the dates of her 'Yahrzeit' (recorded each year on the date of her passing and symbolised with the lighting of a 'Yartzeit' candel), as is found in the original family memorial book.
As part of the Artwork Mapping Series, I have recorded the voice of my great, grandparents and my father from 78 speed records onto a Companion CD – ROM.

Messages recorded on the CD-ROM

• Hermann and Eva’s message of congratulations to their daughter Helene, my grandmother, on her marriage in 1912
• Eva congratulates her husband on the birth of their first grandchild in 1913
• Recordings of birthday greetings from Eva to Hermann in 1925 & 1926
• Eva’s birthday greeting to her grandson Hans Heinz Lesser (my father) in 1928
• In 1929 Eve congratulates my grandmother on her 38th birthday
• My father's speech at his Barmitzva celebration in 1932 (at the age of 13).
• My father has the original master copies of several of these records, one of which was a message from the staff of the Homocord Record Factory to my great grandparents on the occasion of their silver wedding anniversary.

Mapping Generations and the symbol of Ten

With Ten utterances the world was created (The complete ArtScroll Siddur1987:571)

Mapping Gererations is based on both the history of my ancestors and the premise that layers of generations take us back to the very beginning of creation and genetics that history and genetics are linked. The Kabbalah shows that spiritual dynamics affect history. The Kabbalah describes the merging of the soul with the divine flow of history as a ‘cosmic kiss’(Wolf 1999:34)[1]. The letters of the Hebrew alphabet are symbols depicting the basic spiritual components of creation.

The Genealogy of Mankind is the narrative that enumerates:
The Ten generations from Adam to Noah (The Chumash 1993:25)[2]. It begins with Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech and lastly , Noah who died 126 years after Adam had died.
Then there are:
• The Ten generations from Noah to Abraham,
• Abraham was tested with Ten trials,
• Ten miracles were performed in the Holy Temple in Egypt,
• Ten miracles at the Sea,
• Ten plagues were brought upon the Egyptions,
• Ten things were created on the Sabbath evening.
• Ten Men are required for a minuim.

The Ten spiritual flows of the Sefirot in the Kabbalah

The Kabbalah[3] is an ancient Jewish wisdom that explains the eternal laws of how spiritual energy moves through the Cosmos[4]. The Ten spiritual flows of the Sefirot, the spiritual energies of mind and emotion, form the basic foundation of Kabbalah[5]. The word Kabbalah incorporates symbolism, numerology and spiritual forces – the ethereal energy that underlies creation[6]. The Ten Sefirot are the basis of time, space, energy and matter and the foundation of our personalities. Through spirituality they become Mind, Emotions and Soul, flowing from the infinite source of Ein Sof[7] (Wolf 1999:1,2,3,54).

The Sefirotic flows of Mind and Emotion can be viewed as a beam of source energy, with Ten distinct wavelengths of creative light passing through individual realms. The Soul or Neshama is the conduit for the flow of the Ten Sefirot[8].

The Ten Commandments

The two triangles which make up the Star of David have six points or ‘wings’ which are representative of the physical proportions of the Ten Commandments (Wolf 1999: 53):

The Kaballah alludes to the six points as representing the dimensions of six cubits square of each of the two tablets of the Ten Commandments. Maimonides maintains that each tablet was a perfect square and that each square was six cubits in length and breadth (Wolf 1999:53, 54).

End Notes

1. Wolf, author of The Practical Kabbalah, reiterates that even the recent mathematical disclosure of the hidden spiritual Bible Code is not complex enough to explain the true spiritual dynamics at play in the Cosmos.
2. The Chumash, The Artscroll Series/ Stone Edition. 1993. Scherman/Zlotowitz, Mesorah pub, Ltd. Brooklyn.
3. Moses de Lyon published the main text of the Kabbalah known as The Zohar (the inner light) in the medieval period. It had been handwritten by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai 1000 years earlier in ancient Israel, based on an oral tradition 1700 years before and can be traced back to Abraham and Noah.
4. The Kabbalah describes the mystical aspects of the soul and complex concepts of Jewish Mysticism. It explores the mystical labyrinths of altered states and higher spiritual realms. It teaches self-understanding and personal mastery through the mind and the heart. The word Kabbalah incorporates symbolism, numerology and spiritual forces – the ethereal energy that underlies creation.
5. They consist of the three spiritual energies through the physical Mind and the seven energies of Emotion through the heart
6. The Dalia Lama and other cultures and religious traditions have drawn on some of these ancient precepts. It may have originated through the cast out sons of Abraham who went to live in India, in that remarakable parallels can be found between mystical Judaism and Eastern pathways of Buddhism and Hinduism
7. Ein Sof means ‘without end’. It flows through four parallel spiritual realms. Ultimately their human manifestations take place in the final realm of Assiya. The person you are is determined by the Sefrirot in the realm of Assiya (Wolf 1999:55)
8. The three Sefirotic flows of the Mind are Siechel (Chochma, Bina and Da’at). Middot incorporates the seven Sefirotic flows of Emotion which are Middot (Hessed, Gevurah, Tif’eret, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, Malchu).