According to the Mayan Long Count calendar, 21 December 2012 marks the end of the planet as we know it. New age evangelists have placed a positive spin on this, suggesting the time is ripe to evaluate our place within the cosmos. For others, such as the LA-based artist owleyes (James Weigel), it has been a constant part of their life and work. Known for his psychedelic digital collages that combine diverse elements into hypnagogic mandalas and surrealistic dream worlds, owleyes grew up within the "heavy tradition of rituals" of the Greek Orthodox Church in Houston, Texas.
Hounded by visions of demons and angel voices as a child, owleyes learned to use creating art as a method of flushing these agents out and passing on their "decoded, coded messages". According to him: "Collage is my way of rewiring the flow of data. Everything has a higher field of meaning and energy… I just decode them, reconfigure them and then ship them off so they can get to where they need to go."
Owleyes, who goes into a creative frenzy when he works, wants his work to "inspire others to find their own source and stop looking towards the mega money machine art world to validate their creativity. We need to reclaim ourselves - art is dangerous, magic and real. Shamans are some of the most powerful beings on earth, it's time we wake up…" As part of his spiritual quest to unite art and magic, he is moving into making more wearable art - first, via a T-shirt collaboration with the Los Angeles company Blood Is The New Black (available this August), and then with his own line of leggings and tights. For owleyes, these projects allow people to engage and live with art in a way that is not possible when confined within a gallery.
Inspired by such visionaries as the late Austin Osman Spare, whose development of the sigil - a means of focusing the will and creating reality through a magical drawing - led to him being acclaimed as the "psychic godfather" to generations of occult-inspired artists, Weigel sees his work as both a prayer and the physical manifestation of his spiritual belief.
"My practice is to understand the nature of the spirit that inhabits this flesh," he says. "How it affects and is affected by others. To unlock other realms of reality. To face my fear of the unknown and embrace imagination fully, pushing it to its full potential. After all, that is what magic is and art is magic."
As for that Mayan prophesy? "We are becoming a cult of information. We are at the tip of the information iceberg. We will drift into 2012 safely, I feel, but the horizon is a shapeless mass of information that may push our evolution into a corner."
With owleyes' symbolic and sacred works dissolving the boundaries between the future and the primitive, the transition to our new reality promises to be an elevated spiritual process.