Mike Butler

Shortly after graduating from the Ontario College of Art in 1980, I purchased a Color Computer from Radio Shack. After teaching myself to program in Color Basic, I began creating my first digital art.

I was captivated by the endless streams of digital imagery that were possible as well as the fascinating and surreal, abstract patterns that the computer generated simply by tweaking a few parameters and formulas. I was hooked.

What began as a simple experiment and idle pastime turned into an obsession and then into a quest. What was I looking for in this infinite stream of strangely beautiful abstract images? There was a truth here and an unearthly beauty. The images didn't represent anything other than themselves. They were their own truth and their own fierce beauty.

It was as if I was communicating with some invisible being who was telling me an extremely compelling story. Some nameless presence had captured my imagination and it seemed strangely important to give it my complete attention.

It became apparent to me that the images weren't simply decorative, although they soon filled my walls, but rather they were objects of meditation, quiet contemplation, and even veneration.

They transformed my everyday world as well. I began to see everything as an unknowable abstraction that emerged from behind the veil of worldly concerns. The world had brightened as if the sun had come out from behind the clouds and the world sparkled with a wholesome freshness that I hadn't experienced since childhood.

The world of frozen objects melted into a fluid ocean of perceptions dancing free and unencumbered by expectations of completion or explanation.

The images emerging from my computer's screen are not my own creation or invention, but rather they are gifts from some unknowable, divine source of mathematical perfection.

The heart essence of the motivation for creating or contemplating abstract art, for me, is the search for truth and beauty. Truth and beauty, these rare and precious jewels, shine like beacons in a muddled world of banal entertainment and distraction. How are we to go about actualizing them in our everyday lives?

A powerful and profound method for nurturing these gems is the meditation on and contemplation of abstract art. If we want to understand the deep and subtle meaning behind this art form, however, we need to uncover the primordial world of grace that is hiding in plain sight.

The everyday world that we live in, the world of mortgages, jobs and bank statements is a shadow world. It's the world that our discursive minds have created that obscures the real world, the world of pure perception.

We see the primal world of naked reality through the filters of thoughts, feelings and emotions that our monkey minds generate and project onto this vast, lush, gorgeous field of sensory experience. These filters create a version of reality that obscures the sacred space of the here and now, leaving us in a stale, mundane world of frenzied activity, wrestling with our hopes and fears.

Abstract art helps to break down the habit of solidifying our perceptions into a leaden world of frozen objects. It is the tool that I use to play with my perceptions and continually rediscover the fundamental ground of existence which is stainless perfection.

To be an artist is to have hungry eyes. There is a celestial feast everywhere you look.

Mike Butler's art on the Web

Mike Butler's AutoGallery exhibit