“No holds barred, I’d describe myself as a pattern hunter in nature – a synesthesia artist seeking to see things normally unwitnessed, translating waveforms of data into different spectrums of perception.”
Oakland-based Sara “Seraphinianus” Huntley is a shining example of a generation of multimedia artists eagerly taking to emerging media – a wave of renaissance people fluidly adapting to the shifting technocultural landscape by anchoring their expressions in a broader and more comprehensive understanding of nature, consciousness, and the human experience. Where art meets science, tribal meets future, and movement meets music, you’ll find Sara, leading her explosively creative intermedia life-as-art existence. I was delighted to catch up with her about what inspires her and the new forms of trans-verbal communication appearing on our cultural horizons…
SolPurpose: I’m guessing that someone with interests as eclectic as yours, whose work spans multiple media and comes from a high-minded philosophy about the role of art and science in our collective transformation, has an interesting story about your education and how you wandered from school into what you’re doing now…
SH: Well, I grew up in Northern California, east of the Bay Area. Even in high school when I was confronted with forks in the road insisting I focus on two- or three-dimensional media, I found myself craving a multidisciplinary approach. It was this, as well as an inclination for fringe politics and counter culture that lead me to attend The University of California at Santa Cruz.
My thesis in school spontaneously morphed from a focus on painting into a projection performance art (video below). I sought to emulate and interpret the infamous machine elves that populate the tryptamine experience, through video art depicting hyperspace, my love of poi, fire dance, and ritual movement.
My performance art thesis has since become my current dance troupe, Lux Natura. After completing my coursework, I spent a year chasing festival shows in Northern California, live painting, and developing my stage act. Lux Natura continued to grow and we are now looking into collaborating with other non-profit educational organizations.
It was my exposure to the ancient history of tattoo and body modification in school that led me to pursue the tattoo arts as a career. It’s been about two years into my journey tattooing…it blends my love of transformation and personal myth-making, adorning people’s bodily temple with their imagination. I tattoo magical symbols to empower my clientele. It’s been very creatively fulfilling, though not exactly what most people do with a college education.
So here I am, eclectic tattoo artist and performer, off the beaten path.
SolPurpose: You mentioned to me that you studied under rockstar chaos mathematician Ralph Abraham while at UCSC. That’s amazing! Many people don’t realize how instrumental he was to our current psychedelic aesthetic with his early, early computer graphic fractal videos and his use of them in multimedia science-art performances at the Lindisfarne Association. How much has his work and your relationship with him inspired what you’re doing with Lux Natura?
SH: Learning from Ralph Abraham was incredible – his scope of how mathematics and our perception are connected to the cosmos is fascinating. His mind is a Pandora’s Box – he is a prolific expert on chaos, fractal, Euclidian Geometry, Islamic tile work.
The first course of his I took, focused on Islamic Geometries, the crystallographic symmetries of their 17 patterns, and introduction to Fractal and Chaos Theory. I was particularly moved by the Islamic Geometries, I’d seen and drawn these patterns while in vision states. This moment was a sort of seed experience in my work, where I felt confident in documenting hallucinatory form constants and entoptic images almost like a cartographer, cataloging exotic artifacts or otherworldly creatures. I realized, an artistic skill set like that had the potential to uncover important relationships between cognition and the sciences.
Later that quarter I began exploring the similarities in the shapes of Poi, and how it related to the math we were exploring. These performances were the beginning of my Lux Natura Project, and I began concurrently developing them in my other classes; becoming wholeheartedly dedicated to the idea of translating visionary experiences into digital multimedia performance arts.
No holds barred, I’d describe myself as a pattern hunter in nature – a synesthesia artist seeking to see things normally unwitnessed, translating waveforms of data into different spectrums of perception. I do this in and out of altered states of mind, as an explorer of consciousness. I look to the edges of science and culture for inspiration.
Ralph’s classes really deepened my appreciation for intricacies of order and chaos in natural forms – in particular, crystallographic codes, toroidal systems, and cymatic wave patterns. These topics have led me down the rabbit hole and now I research things like quasicrystals and tesseracts for fun and inspiration in my work.
As a psychonaut seeking to translate the visionary experience, Ralph’s classes gifted me with a finer lens to see the phenomenon I was most interested in. I sought to craft myself a truly psychedelic education in school. His classes were a high point in that journey.
“I see these multidimensional forms as the ABC’s of a universal language. I’m eager to see the words we might spell with them as we refine how to express ourselves.”
SolPurpose: Let’s talk some more about how you think “crystallographic codes, toroidal systems, and cymatic wave patterns” might inform the hypertextual, multidimensional languages required in order to adequately express and experience our future…and how these forms and patterns might be in some sense a return to ancestral forms of communication, and/or recruit our innate forms of perception and communication in ways that current modes of communication do not.
SH: Ultimately, I speculate on the possibilities as an artist; I’m no engineer or scientist. I do strongly believe that fluency in the shapes with which reality builds itself is essential for resonating with the existing harmonics in nature, and reducing our species’ harmful impact from developing technologies and industrial cultural trends.
When people have an understanding of new principles and perspectives, it allows them to tap into new synthesis for solutions previously unavailable.
Quasicrystals, toroidal systems, and cymatic wave patterns have many overlapping aspects, but the one that stands out in my mind is vibratory harmonics. Understanding the literal vibratory nature of the universe is essential to navigating how we live and express ourselves in the future. How we tread on reality is directly related to our understanding of it. Being able to understand the natural world’s palette of these mathematical structures may lead us to the solutions nature is waiting for us to discover.
Concepts like quasicrystals will be relevant to emerging industries like 3D printing, innovative architecture and countless modes of design, as well as new materials engineering and nano printing. I also see it informing our pattern recognition skills as we look deeper into fields of biology and physics, as well as how we visually represent information and create more efficient networks and coding languages. A multidisciplinary understanding of mathematics and vibrational harmonics will be a key ingredient in any possible renaissance for our future.
I do see it ultimately a rediscovery though. Countless expressions of these symbols and geometries exist woven in human history before us, in religious and occult traditions. We are seeing a deepening of understanding how fluency in geometry can impact us in the modern world.
Math is the language of the cosmos, and our relationship to it predates written and spoken language. Though song and music we engage our emotions and imagination, conveying information in a more intuitive way; and through dance we embody kinetic algorithms.
Music is as beautiful and mysterious and powerful as it is to us because it ultimately it is the closest our minds get to directly experiencing harmonization. There is no linguistic symbolic system – you can hear it if it’s disharmonic, almost immediately without needing to analyze it. In the same way, visual mathematics its easy to see harmonics in lattices. It’s a visual software built into us naturally, every time we admire beauty in nature, or symmetry in a face. We already see how an abstract model can evolve through intuitive aesthetic selection in fractal flame generators like Scott Draves’ Electric Sheep.
Our ability to discover new things through play and our passion for exploration is one of the endearing qualities humans exhibit. Recruiting our innate capacity for play as a resource for problem solving is an enticing approach to get people self educating and participating. I see these multidimensional forms as the ABC’s of a universal language. I’m eager to see the words we might spell with them as we refine how to express ourselves.
SolPurpose: The last two years saw the beginning of some epic creative works in these departments. What is your next Big Project?
SH: I always have a lot of projects going at once, I can’t help it, it’s an intrinsic part of my creativity. I often think of octopi when I need some inspiration on juggling eight things at once. I currently have a series of paintings I’m working on, the first in a year…as part of my ongoing graphic novel project. I’ve been developing a 2.0 version of Lux Natura; including projection mapping, motion capture and custom stage building. I’m also currently drafting a more mainstream friendly version of my lecture at Burning Man entitled “”biomorphic empathy.” For fun in between all these things, I’ve been developing a video series on entheogenic education, “conspiracy theories” and modern cultural histories of science fiction.
Multidisciplinary approaches are what I find most inspiring. Themes in my work intertwine and inform the evolution of one another. It allows for unexpected synchronicity and for the universe to help inform the intuitive direction of my overall artistic work, and allows me to continue to be a paintbrush of the cosmos.
Thanks so much for inviting me for an interview, I really enjoyed the questions and concepts we brought up. I love collaboration and connectivity, so if anyone has been inspired to reach out and strike up a conversation I welcome people to find me online and say hi!
SolPurpose: Thanks, Sara!