About IONA MILLER Photos
About Iona Miller
& Digital Diva


WHAT’S NEW: Updated 8-2009


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I began painting in acrylics in the early 70s, anticipating what later became New Age art to some extent. I continued painting sacred geometries through the 80s, and moved into realtime collage in the 90s, producing some 400 24x36 works each with universal psychological as well as personal content. In the 21st Century I went digital. I had NO choice as my house was filling with an overflow of large art pieces I intended to illustrate my writings.

I'm now moving into video production: When technology allowed cable tv to move from 12 channels to hundreds, the age of public access television became possible. In the '70s Sony produced inexpensive, portable video recorders – the PortaPack. People started seeing the possibilities of moving television out of corporate control. Michael Shamberg wrote Guerrilla Television and then went on to produce The Big Chill and many other films.

With podcasting it is easy to produce your own radio shows with the help of mp3 players. We now have new video podcasting, iTunes selling tv reruns, TiVo to go, etc, for video distribution. Video can even be shot with a cellphone or any of the millions of digital cameras sold this past year. So there will be an explosion of video production like what happened in the Guerrilla television days.

Digital Diva is a series of composite works, begun long before my acquaintance with animator Bob Judd and digital godfather Laurence Gartel, but their influence spurred me on, though we seldom exchange tips. Further collaboration with Judd led to animation of my old paintings, and a CYBEROTICA show in Miami in 2003, and another reprise at Ice House Gallery in Phoenix in 2004. In Winter of 2004, we all met in Phoenix and collaborated on clips and pics, including "The Bride of Deception", a thinly-veiled political satire during the November s-Election. In 2005, I have worked on a large series of mandalas and begun to make movies, artfilms, and interviews.

Adventures - What Inspires Me

A Field Theory of Art and the Imagination

By Iona Miller 10-2005

Inspiration, noun
1: arousal of the mind to special unusual activity or
2: a product of your creative thinking and work; brainchild
3: a sudden intuition as part of solving a problem
4: arousing to a particular emotion or action
5: the act of inhaling [inhalation, breathing in]

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens. ~ Carl Jung

Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it. ~ Buddha

The psychedelic experience is, in my opinion, what every piece of transcendent art aspires to. Even without ever having a psychedelic experience, the act of taking an image or piece of music from your imagination and translating it into a physical medium which can be shared with others is psychedelic in and of itself. Not only is the act of creating art semantically psychedelic (mind-manifesting) it is also an exercise in the crystallization of imagination, which is indeed the very essence of the psychedelic experience. ~James Kent, Psychedelic Information Theory

Sensual Culture

Inspiration should be a verb, not a noun; it is a complex dynamic, a force of Nature and our nature. When someone asks me what “inspires” me and my artwork, I can’t imagine naming any one thing, or list of “things”. It’s like asking my favorite color. I can’t help but answer, ALL, “all of the Above and Below”.

What doesn’t inspire the artistic eye that doesn’t merely “look at”, but “sees through” to the imaginal depth of any given perception or experience? Rather than the impressionistic senses informing the soul, the soul informs the multisensory experience of being. Inspiration means life, the opposite of death. It implies purpose, direction, meaning, ecstasy, creativity.

Any moment can be as inspirational as the next. Inspiration can come from an internal movement or sensation, a love affair with color and form, the awe of an incandescent moment, even the pain of a soul on fire struggling to express itself or the zeitgeist of the times. All ways of looking at reality are imaginative. When we see soul as the background of all phenomena, we become aware of the animating principle.

The soul in depth psychology is an empirical manifestation of imagination, fantasy, and creativity which is always in the process of becoming--images forming, and dissolving, and forming anew. Imagination is the essence of the life forces, both physical and psychic. It is the hidden ground behind symbol, archetype, metaphor, image. These fantasies always permeate our beliefs, ideas, emotions, and physical nature.

Our imagination is not something possessed by our minds, but the fundamental conscious/unconscious field of our psyche, our soul. The imaginal field is not derivative, but the very ground of our existence, conditioning all of our experience. It is where the personal encounters the transpersonal and finds “I AM That”. Imagination is the primary irreducible activity of the soul.

The image-making psyche or soul is the primary creative capacity, not only in art. Yet, perhaps, this is what is meant when it is said an artist has ‘soul,’ the capacity to draw on the inspirational mythopoetic taproot to Source, the creative field. Imagination is the basis of soul. In fact, to live the artistic life is to live immersed consciously in that aesthetically-nuanced Reality, to find it virtually inescapable.

Imaginal Ground as Aesthetic Paradigm

The intrapersonal process of art and the products of art have different cultural meanings. However, the primary purpose of art as a culture is to externalize and concretize for some time that ephemeral ever-morphing field of the image-scape. It merges subjective and objective through an affective, aesthetic experience. Our cultivation of the soul restores the human dimension to experience, destigmatizing imagination as merely fantasy, illusion, dream, or delusory perception.

It is the mind that is perhaps a distorting lens, structured by beliefs, myths, and philosophies, even those of so-called rational science. This is so because the mind is in the Imagination, the Anima Mundi, rather than the reverse. We can’t think without images. Multisensory images constantly condition our meaningful perception of the world, inner and outer. They organize our beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behavior, our responses.

Our images condition our perception and perspective, the way we see. As artists, it isn’t what we see and depict, but how we see it. Traditional art promotes conformity. Interesting art, as distinct from what we could call “sofa art”, has something to say, a unique perspective or point of view that speaks to the observer or participant.

Art as a culture is a traditional means of confronting the imagination. Art as a process is not confined by rules of academic art. The digital revolution challenged the traditional world of painting, but computer-assisted art is no less human because the tool has changed from a brush to a program. In fact, it is the human dimension of this art that keeps it interesting, over-riding the sterility of mere technical perfection.

People turn to film and art to help them contextualize experience, personal and collective. The “art world” as a biased cultural force cannot predetermine how any generation will meet the imagination. Dogmatic expression of fantasy is an oxymoron. It discourages the genuinely novel, demoting it to novelty.

Thus, there is no “artform” today, because even “The Present” barely qualifies as such. Thus, “fame” has become a pseudo-artform superceding the importance of one’s ouvre in the public domain. The “artist”, a role-playing put on, becomes a mere novelty or element of the media spectacle, there to provide entertainment.

The more we attune to the imaginal field, the closer we come to the semantic idea of “inspiration”, as a lived and breathed reality, renewed in each instant. That ‘present’ can remake our past and forge our future. Why should inspiration or creativity be “unusual” when, in fact, it goes on all the time? It quickens, exercises, elevates and stimulates the intellect and emotions with passion, purpose, meaning.

Make friends of The Muses. Inspiration is simply the loving expression of a heightened and churning impulse toward creativity. What we believe conditions what we perceive, feel, and express. The prime expression of beliefs is through spontaneous imagery. We never experience directly, but interpret our experience of our perceptions through imagery. All our input comes through multi-sensory channels.

If you want to be inspired, live a life undergird and informed by that inherent capacity. Quit fantasizing that you do not! Inspiration comes from the imaginal field, the zero-point of soul -- even if we are as unaware of it as the quantum field.

The soul generates images unceasingly. The soul lives on images and metaphor. These images form the basis for our consciousness. Embrace the image. Soul mediates between mind and body, personality and world. Believe in the truth of images. Don’t institutionalize your imagination or experiences.

We “make soul” by living life, by irrepressibly imagining possibilities. Soul is rooted firmly in the mundane world. We cannot be in the physical world without demonstrating the archetypal or the imaginal. We might conclude that imaginative behaviour and physical behaviour exist in a symbiotic relationship

Quit falsely imagining that you are uninspired, that you are separate at all from the heartfelt Source of inspiration, the communication of Truth. Cultivate your soul, giving it a voice. Challenge your accepted, institutionalized way of perceiving, habitual forms, with an imaginative aesthetic response.

Beauty is the manifestation of the soul, reflecting the ways we are touched, psychically and sensually. We connect with objects through imagination and feeling, our heartfelt response to our senses. Imaging is an aesthetic activity that evokes human feeling. The value of images is their ability to evoke feeling, elaboration, speculation, and transformation. Engage process and inspiration flows. You become artist, not as a role but a vocation, when you return that heart and soul to the world.

Also see, The Relativity of Body and Soul,
On the nature of spirit, soul and body.


There are historical, theoretical, aesthetic, conceptual and technical challenges presented by the relatively recent collision of art, culture and computing power. Through envisioning information as popular media, science fiction, computer games, marketing tools, learning simulations, and artist's projects, technology has been and will continue to be a key component of culture rather than just a digital wasteland. Art itself can be a powerful communal stimulant.

What Is Art, Anyway?

Does our talk about art and creativity illuminate the subject or confound its dynamic form further? Performance artist, Lauri Anderson says, “Talking about art is like dancing about architecture.” Nevertheless, art is in no danger of being drowned in the volume of discourse that surrounds it.

The aesthetic experience is tied to the way we engage certain objects or processes in a unified, intense, complex and pleasurable way. Pleasure is the key to aesthetic value. Desire is its driving force. The path of desire has never been an easy one.

Any ideas about art remain culture-bound and subjective. Whether we come to it with a romantic or work ethic, art remains a fantastic, seductive, mysterious process, largely for the initiated. But we all value art for what it teaches us about ourselves, others and the world. Whether art is sublime, frightening or pleasing we cannot ignore or deny its immediate impact. Something in the composition, configuration, or setting, implicit or explicit -- is inviting.

Ontology is a branch of metaphysics that systematically characterizes reality. The ontology of art seeks to determine what kind of thing an artwork is and provide a means of determining when and where “artworks” occur. Materialists think it is a physical thing (artifact), while Idealists reckon art is a pattern of thought or emotion (aspect), perhaps shared in some way with an audience.

An artist is a person who participates intentionally with understanding in the making of a work of art. A work of art is an artifact of a kind created to be presented to an artworld public. A public is a set of persons the members of which are prepared in some degree to understand an object, which is presented to them. The artworld is the totality of all artworld systems. An artworld system is a framework for the presentation of a work of art by an artist to an artworld public. (George Dickie)

No overarching policy can possibly determine what is art among genres, eras, or cultures. As with food, the pleasure comes in the tasting, not reading the recipe. Art theories proliferate (postmodern, romantic, expressive, emotive, essential, significant), proving that no single notion can encompass its glory. The common properties are only threads of similarity.

But we all agree that mankind is artful, and some societies make no distinction with “non-art”, doing everything in the best way that can be done. The philosophy of art explores these issues. Art has its own laws. Issues for the artist include fidelity to one’s self and vision (or in performance to the script, tempo and other dramatic elements), locus of creation, creativity, and the artist’s intention.

On the other hand, the artworld is a dynamic social institution with its own agenda, consisting of established practices, historical value, and the exercise of critical judgment, signification, and aesthetic value.

Today, an open concept of art is an essential precondition of creativity and novelty in the field. We are either inspired by or wrestle with our media until we discover and realize a form. Form is a process at work, "a flux", a gestalt.

Creating can refer to a process or a product; composition, innovativeness, novelty, originality or advancement beyond the current tradition. But creativity is also an essentially self-expressive means of transcending the normal limitations of ordinary life, “possession” by the divine.

Frames for art are disappearing as it becomes more and more part of everyday life, the vibrant environment -- not a ‘something’ to be cordoned off in a stuffy museum. Functional art, such as web media, requires no interpretation, just immediate engagement. We don’t simply react, but interact. The process is visceral but somehow “makes sense,” quite literally. It makes the observer a collaborator. Subject matter and content are now ubiquitous.

Cyberculture and web life have blurred the distinction in modern culture, as we are immersed in an ocean of imagery and signs. We discover art and beauty at the click of a mouse, and judge by our visceral reactions.

The essence of art does not lie in its definition; it is far too complex. Despite differences in technique and media, connecting the fine with the applied arts, we connect the pragmatic and the idyllic. Inspiration can be an exaltation, but elaboration, especially with technical media can be painstaking, reflective, analytical work.

Aesthetics is something else. What is artful, beautiful or ugly depends to some extent on taste, or acquired taste (gesture of approval). A work that isn’t necessarily beautiful can be very compelling, such as plasticized human corpses. Aesthetic value is based on reasonable arguments that describe the criteria, credentials or defining features of that value.

But pleasure or enthrallment is the key to aesthetic value, in general.

“Pleasure” thus becomes a quality of the work, itself. The mind is susceptible to its unique impact, its implicit or explicit beauty. But today we can also find beauty in the flow state of interactivity, the ease with which we navigate an artificial environment and imbibe the information it contains. Like a fine meal, it nourishes us in a way that struggling with technology cannot.

An aesthetic experience is a subjective reaction which can momentarily suspend time and consciousness, a sort of transport or fixation, an intuitive contemplation or “ecstatic” state of mind. As human beings, we have an innate craving for ecstasy as much as for novelty seeking. Suddenly, through apprehension, our mental activity is sparked, rendered unified, intense, complex and pleasurable by the sublime.

The “beauty” contest is over. Art is no longer an imitation of life. Postmodern artists reduced the chasm between art and real things to immediate knowledge. Art teaches us about emotions and truths that cannot be discovered or learned in any other way. It stimulates thoughts that cannot be depicted or portrayed. An object’s truth is its being, its emergence. The hyperreal has made the merely real virtually obsolete.

Today’s cutting edge art is challenging, confrontive, transgressive. Short-circuiting our rational minds, it grants us privileged entree into the mystical, the irrational, the nondeterministic. We slide down the rabbit hole, constantly bombarded with it in a pandemonium of nonlinear forms. They feed the older needs of the human mind.

In the dynamic model, morphology is a plurality of elements in which what is formed is immediately broken down and re-formed. Growth is a constant interchange of its own elements with the environment, taking-in and giving-out patterns in all directions. There is no hard boundary between ourselves and our surroundings, no before or after in the formative process, in cause and effect, in outward and inward.

Interactive art works pose special problems. An interactive art work can only be interpreted through interaction, either as first-person or as bystander. It is obvious that the experience differs between the two positions, whereas one acts and the other watches the acting. The question is whether it is possible to extract the artwork from the interaction with it, let alone the (im-)possibility of extracting the interaction among the beholders (first-person and bystanders) of the artwork from the interaction with it.

This leads to further questions: how is the interactive artwork interpreted when the spectator has left it, or has changed it? Is it possible to interpret interactive art works without interacting? Is it possible at all to interpret art works through interaction, and thereby accept the interpretation from a distracted interpreter?

'Interactivity-theory' must be added to traditional aesthetics. Based on experiences from computer games and web-design, an aesthetic understanding of the concept of interactivity counters aesthetics in many ways. (Michael Hammel)

Contemporary art is characterized by an increase in the use of technological media, such as videos, television and computers. The human body has also become a site of artistic investigation. It is a challenge to conventional gallery spaces as an exclusive site for artistic display. There is increasing interest in process and procedure as opposed to a finished or static artifact.

Context and intentionality are crucial. Design (understood as rational planning) forms an important part of the realization of an interactive artwork. There are many design tasks (often distributed among co-creators or helpers): for example, designing an interface, or a flow-chart for a hypertext architecture. There is also need for engineering skills.

However, neither a beautifully designed software code, nor an ingeniously engineered hydraulic platform is a work of art. An artwork requires something else, a kind of surplus of inspiration and signification which will transcend the rational assembly of the "machine parts", melt them together and give them a raison d'etre on a higher level of abstraction.

Art is multi-layered and open-ended. There is no final "solution" to an interactive artwork, no way to exhaust its meanings. Modern art is transient, interdisciplinary, multimedial, process-oriented, discursive, dependent on concept and context and besides that increasingly aimed at interactivity with the recipient. Its diversity is in need of documentation in a wider sense, in case it should at some point be subjected to scientific questions and authenticity by those who were not present at its conception and presentation.

Contemporary art requires rethinking and a strategic procedure in its documentation. Documentation is a work of art, is a process, navigation, interpretation and a tool for communication and discussion. The instruments of digital and multimedia technology require specific art efforts. The increasing presence of digital media appliances in museums changes the viewing habits of visitors to the museums as well as researchers. There is an entirely new set of curating problems and questions to cope with. (Harald Kramer)

Interactive art is firmly rooted in the aesthetic upheavals of the 20th century. The questioning of the role of the artist, the work, the audience, the market and the relationship between art and society by the dadaists, the constructivists, the surrealists and others prepared the ground.

In the 1960's Fluxus, happenings and "participation art" (Frank Popper), cybernetic art, the art & technology movement, environmental art and video art already provided many of the ingredients of interactive art.

In an artwork which also incorporates an on-line connection the situation gets even more complex: in addition, there is now the possibility of communication with real humans in remote locations as well as with manifold software agents and knowbots residing in the net. Sometimes it will be difficult to tell which is which.

In the near future we will probably see more and more of these kind of hybrid artworks, with both a local and a global face, and providing the user the simultaneous experience of being present and faraway in some distant location. Such situations tend to reduce rather than increase the narcissistic potential of the medium.

We are arguably moving through successive transpositions toward a world where man is art; the locus of art has returned to the immediacy of the body in performance and body art. In interactive art, we become part of the system, part of the dynamic artifact or experience. And, often we are changed tangibly by that interaction.

CYBERART MYTHS: Seven Ways of Misunderstanding Interactive Art:

Interactive art is a very recent phenomenon. It is still in its infancy. It will take a long time for it to mature as an Artform.

Interactive artworks celebrate high tech. They belong to the computer fair, the science center and the corporate headquarters, but not to the art museum. There isn't any serious role for interactive artworks in the art world.

Instead of pursuing serious artistic and intellectual goals interactive artists are content with technological trickery. There is no significant difference between an interactive artwork and a well-made video game or some other interactive application. The maker of an interactive artwork is a designer or an engineer rather than an Artist.

Interactive art is the latest manifestation of the "death of the author". The "interactive artist" is merely a context-maker, who provides the basic ingredients, sets up the situation, and then disappears. The spectator-turned-into-the-user provides the meanings, in a sense creates the work at the moment of the interaction.

The much touted "interactivity" of interactive art is pure hype. One has to point and click or keep touching an on-screen menu, to be rewarded by mindless strolling in a pre-existing virtual landscape or by the pleasure of choosing between a few pre-programmed alternatives. There is no real responsiveness, no sense of contributing something to the work, of getting a real personal answer.

Real interactivity is always related to the idea of the "interpersonal", something happening between human beings. Interactive art, however, is "intra active", creating a monologic loop between the user and his/her self-representations, mediated by technology. The artwork serves merely as a mirror. "Interactive art" is the ultimate triumph of the "aesthetics of narcissism".

Interactive art is masculine in nature, just like "the culture of interactivity" in general. The spreading of interactive technology represents the counter-attack of masculinity in a culture "feminized" by watching television. (Erkki Huhtamo, University of Lapland)

Four-step version of creativity or creative process (Douglas Morgan):

“Preparation” during which the creator becomes aware of a problem or difficulty [and] goes through trial-and-error random movement in unsuccessful attempts to resolve a felt conflict.

“Incubation”, renunciation or recession, during which the difficulty drops out of consciousness. The attention is totally redirected.

“Inspiration” or insight. The “a-ha” phenomenon, characterized by a flood of vivid imagery, an emotional release, a feeling of exultation, adequacy, finality.

“Elaboration” or “verification” during which the “idea” is worked out in fully developed detail.

Chip Body Travels in the Astral Plane and Virtuality
Recent realtime journeys include Amsterdam in Spring 2005, Brisbane, Australia and points beyond (Castle on the Hill, Mt. Warning; Gold Coast) for the Sept. 2004 Nexus conference. An art/music/film tour Oct. 04 with fellow artists Bob Judd and Laurence Gartel gartelmuseum.com to Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and Hollywood. And a trip to the Canadian border {Seattle/Blaine/Semiahmoo) for publishing discussions and R&R over New Years 2005, and World Nutricutical Conference, Anaheim.

Like Einstein riding his beam of light, I like to make imaginary journeys and forays into the astral and virtual worlds. My photos capture the atmosphere of those soul travels and offer the viewer a glimpse into my rich inner life. Who knows where I'll be going next, or who I will be appearing as, haha. Many of my gags are whims, or the result of what is available in real time to work with. I am a big fan of the Jungian notion of the bricoleur who works with what is at hand, that which appears and WANTS to be incorporated in a hyperdelic or surrealistic manner. In this way I am continually embodying my imaginal reality with linear time.

Email IONA

Travels: Amsterdam for Nexus 2005 Euro-conference

iona@ionamiller.com ~ All Rights Reserved, (c)2005