Last summer at the Medalta Center Ceramic Artist Residency I did a lot of bike riding to and from the studio. I was painfully aware of the topology of Medicine Hat, where my dorm room at Medicine Hat College was on top of a super steep hill and the Historic Clay District, where the studio is, was way down in the coulee.
The landforms and the landscape were beautiful. Unfortunately I was on a super clunky bike with only one brake. But it did give me a chance to slow down and look carefully at where I was.
Getting closer to the landscape was a great experience and most exciting was that I got to see the way prairie plants grew. How do these plants arrange themselves for life in a harsh, windswept, semiarid environment?
I started looking closer at how the plants formed a sort of topology, a miniature landscape that maximized water retention, pollination, and photosynthesis in an ingenious, "passive" form.
How do we come up with ideas? How do we develop them? How do we "exert" (if that's the right word) our ideas on the invisible but resistant world around them? Can we experience idea-making through exercises in topology?
How subtle or extreme must the topology be? How does the framework of an idea relate to its substance? What shapes the formation of an idea?
Do ideas exist in a landscape of topologies, itself a transcendent topology? Are ideas isolated from one another, each forming its own topology? Or are ideas engaged in some kind of conversation in a community of thought?