Translating the Invisible Wind

by Geoff Hall on April 29, 2016

April, 2016.

Translating the Invisible Wind, published by Upptacka Press, 2012.

Translating the Invisible Wind, published by Upptacka Press, 2012.

4 years ago ‘Translating the Invisible Wind’ was published by Chris Lorensson’s Upptacka Press.


Translating is probably the most mystical book in the series, affirming that art is a spiritual discipline with a task, an end game in mind.


Robert Bresson said it this way; that we are to “Translate the invisible wind by the water it sculpts in passing.” To work as an artist is therefore, to translate what the Spirit, the invisible wind; it is sculpting, moulding here on earth and expressing it in whatever medium we work with.


Part of this discipline the artist is committed to, is not just mastery over their tools and materials, but to pay attention to a bigger story than ‘my artistic struggle’. They need to transcend the limitations of self-involvement, of personal infatuation.

It is best summed up by Russian Filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky,

“I believe… that an enormous task has been entrusted to art. This is the task of resurrecting spirituality.”

Hall, Geoff (2012-07-23). Translating the Invisible Wind (Spiritual Direction in a Postmodern Landscape) (Kindle Locations 524-525). Upptäcka Press. Kindle Edition.


He goes on to say,


“With the word spirituality I first of all have in mind a person’s interest in what has been called the meaning of life. This is the first step at least… We have asked ourselves the question of why we live… and the artist who isn’t preoccupied with this question is not an artist… it is when we begin to take on these questions [of existence] that what we call true art arises.”

Hall, Geoff (2012-07-23). Translating the Invisible Wind (Spiritual Direction in a Postmodern Landscape) (Kindle Locations 527-530). Upptäcka Press. Kindle Edition.


The artist is a translator; a means of perceiving what the Spirit is doing in this world, but also artistically in the medium of our calling. It was Philip K Dick who wrote ‘Comprehension follows perception.’ Our work as sculptors, artists, filmmakers, musicians, poets, dancers or writers, is to discern what is going on in those fields, begin to critique it and then move the conversation along.

Perception relies on percepts, that is, a concept which depends upon recognition by the senses. Perception is not some inferior means of communication, falling well below rationalism and accurate information to express the ‘truth’ of the matter. It is the artists work to create the percept, be it in sight, sound or movement.


As artists we need to go beyond mastering our materials and the ‘process’ of creation, we need to be attuned, to perceiving what the invisible wind is sculpting. We can only do this through dedication to our discipline, of seeing what others are saying and showing and then entering into the conversation. And that converse-ation is merely the ‘keeping company with’ implied in old Latin meaning of the word. Who are we keeping company within the cultural mainstream? If we want to reach people we have to escape the sub-cultural stream and participate in steady flow of contemporary culture making.


“The artist who simply focuses on capturing the ‘material’ world has not understood this purpose for the arts; to help answer the spiritual yearning within. Whether this is conceived as the focal vision of the artist or the gathering of the ‘found object’ for the conceptual artist, spirituality is diminished and we are left with all the angst and confusion of Existentialism. The Existentialist God is a silent God, at some distance from our plight, unsympathetic and judgmental and probably worst of all, unwilling to help.”

Hall, Geoff (2012-07-23). Translating the Invisible Wind (Spiritual Direction in a Postmodern Landscape) (Kindle Locations 532-535). Upptäcka Press. Kindle Edition.


When I look at the masters of cinema, like Ingmar Bergman, I see spiritual languor. It was Tarkovsky who noted the difference between his God and Bergman’s, namely that Bergman’s God is silent and Tarkovsky’s is conversant in so many ways.

Bringing that up-to-date with a contemporary filmmaker like Lars von Trier, what I see is a despairing, melancholic existentialism; a vacant earth bereft of goodness and corrupted by evil; in short all matter is evil.

How as a filmmaker would I counter that? How would I converse with von Trier, save in the language of his medium and not in the language of criticism. It’s a long term commitment not a short term critique.

The Great River flows slowly and we have to see what the Wind is sculpting as we pass by. Translating the Invisible Wind looks more deeply into this and you can find a copy here at Upptacka Press.




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