Transforming Reality Through The Arts

©2002 by Coni Ciongoli-Koepfinger

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Does art reflect our reality or does our reality reflect our art? 

The human imagination has kindled a plethora of ideas that have manifested into real structures – buildings, bridges, cars, and new technology.  In addition, humans simulate realities that are akin to desires, wants, needs by producing music, art and literature. Does the reception of our thought patterns elucidate our visual pictures?  Or does the perception of those visual pictures that surround us in our daily lives create the thought waves that then signal the internal screen for playback in the imagination?  However we choose to describe it, we must try to grasp the fact that we are attempting to dissect a process that is in a constant state of flux.

I have been active in the arts for over twenty years, and I propose that art is one of our best tools to transform reality. For instance, as a playwright and poet, I have found the elements of language, words, certain sentences, and even the letters that form the words to be my internal tracking system. I have defined art as it spells itself out: All Realized Truth. Still that means not much more than a word game – making life nothing more than a giant game of Scrabble. Or does it help us to create some sort of synthesis between our dreams and our realities?  Let's take a closer look.

Like scientists examining a culture of bacteria in a petri dish, we need to scrutinize how the first cells of art and culture start to form. A thought drifts into the human mind.  As each thought enters the body it vibrates into a “feeling.” As the thought passes through its feeling stage, it collects the energy to move into action. However, psychology tends to reverse this pattern, looking at behavior from the action stage, back to the feeling, and then to the thought stage. I propose that through examination of the creative process (tracking forward from thoughts into actions) we might be able to avoid much of societal despair.

What I am suggesting is that by learning how to engineer the process that creates the art, we can then begin examining the process that constructs the social formations that create our realities. We realize that the disaster stories in the nightly news can document our reality into fiction – and our fears into a potential for even more disasters. Perhaps we need to find an approach that will be able to transcend the limits of ordinary reality, one that lets us break through the barriers of time and space. It is then possible to bridge the gap between the real and imaginary, between sociology and art, with a new set of blueprints and patterns of words?  We know that words effect us; they make us think and they make us feel certain ways in certain situations. We have seen how the media is using this to its own advantage. And often our media images depict humanity in a somewhat bleak and dismal setting.  Yet, could it be that art might be the best deliverance from that possible eventuality?

My particular response to this question is to initiate a project called “Formative Stages” that explores the purpose, scope and nature of the creative process. This is my PhD project at the Carnegie Mellon University , and once developed, it will be offered as an interdisciplinary option for students enrolled in any course that involves a final creative element. Students are invited to participate in a theatrical performance, where there is no preexisting understanding of what he or she is forming. The creator arrives upon the art “form, and begins the “form”ative creative process – re”forming”, con”forming”, de”forming” the work until he or she finds just the correct formula that works as the creative solution. Above all, the theatrical setting forms words into living realities, allowing audiences to think and feel simultaneously, breaking the bonds of alienation and communicating the transformative power of the creative process.

I hope to gain further insight on the primordial picture of art by studying the process that weaves words and other elements artistically into a fabric transparent to the "either/or" mentality – until imagination and reality are at last synthesized. Upon completion of my academic work, I plan building a network of new art that will create a brighter reality by the formation of words into living realities.

The formation of words in literature employs an unencumbered process. Through the very core of its structure, it permits us to delve into alternative models of human experience. It enables us to be in two realities at once, one real, one imagined.  In literature we may find the roots to the same cultural processes used in the development of social structures. I'd like to suggest that the initial link between art and sociology is the movement between.  It is thus actualized by the very essence of the conjunction "and" which allows the process of vacillation between them. If cultivated properly, art just might be a deliverance from division.  If we can use the ampersand to sculpt society through the artistic process, the divisions will eventually fade.  But first, the artistic approach must be accepted into mainstream reality.  The business departments, the industrialists must look to the way of the artist, and accept the artist’s way as more than frivolous, recognizing the tremendous transformative power in art.  Looking back to the beginning surge of the Industrial Revolution, society started to automate and expand its physical strength through mechanical transformers. Now it must expand its imagination.  We need to take a revised look at art as a science, and see the science of life, in its rawest formations breed into art.

Maybe the creation of a society that questions the reality of its fiction and the fiction of its reality is only a page turn away. Conceivably it is no longer a question of controlling what is real; instead, is it a question of controlling the market analysis that controls what the individual assumes to be real? Perhaps then, we will able to give birth to the new science that is no longer bipolar in its relations of the art and the social – a new science that is born out of a culture that was modified to be the perfect blend of both fact and fiction.


About the Author

CONI CIONGOLI-KOEPFINGER (PLAYWRIGHT) has a BA in theatre arts from Penn State University and an MA in English, Literary and Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University . Her inspiration comes from creation itself. Rudolph, Big Secret, Jack & Talkback Beanstalk and Journeys include staged work as well as All Good Dreamers at the first Pgh Playwrights Festival and the musical The SHADOW DANCER; SIDESHOW at Upstairs Theatre; COFFEEHOUSE MAGIC had its New York premiere  at The Museum Of Sound Recording and followed with a run at The Acting Company. Her play, THE RED ROOM first played on the RIS Radio. Coni’s collaboration with London ’s classical composer’s Robert Hugill on CANDLEDANCING which included a requiem mass, resulted in the London premiere of creation of the opera GARRETT, the story of a sad and blue giraffe who longs to be a rhinoceros, a powerful tale that speaks plainly of the process of transformation.

The Author can be reached with your comments at:


Article Summaries

Transcendental Creative Systems:

An Exploration Using General Living Systems Theory

Creativity is the merger of matter/energy with new information.  The process of bringing something new into existence, is an inherent characteristic of life.  To live is to create whether we do so unconsciously, or with full awareness.  This essay is an academic approach to the creative process using James Miller's General Living Systems Theory to model the course from non-being to created work.

A Comparative View of Creativity Theories:
Psychoanalytic, Behaviorist, & Humanistic

Three streams of thought in contemporary psychology view our humanness is distinctly different ways.  This is nowhere more evident than in their efforts to explain creativity.  This essay explores and compares these divergent views and provides a foundation from which to develop a new transpersonal theory of creativity.

Dancing With The Whole:
A Theory of Creative Entrainment

The holistic theory models entrainment as a communicative occurrence. Examples are given from several disciplines and four stages of entrainment are delimited. The essay compares theoretical quantum physicist David Bohm's notions of order with the realms of spirit, mind, and body. It proposes stages of entrainment operant throughout these realms and suggests that they perform cumulatively in the creative or unfolding process. The systems perspective develops the thesis that humankind is an iteration of a larger system and that entrainment is a central factor in the transduction of information between individuals and across system levels.

Doorways In Consciousness:
An Exploration of Resonant Being

Many cultures around the globe embrace sound in their exoteric and esoteric traditions. This essay reviews the role sound plays in the religions, creation myths, and sacred technologies of various peoples. This review connects creativity with healing which is considered an act of regeneration thus creating health in the body. Several varieties of healing through sound are discussed including music, drumming, toning, chant, instruments, Kabballah, and prayer. The essay proposes that techniques of sound healing and therapy currently rely on the intuitive ability of individual practitioners. Acknowledging the need for effective healing modalities, it calls for research that can qualify the elemental effects of existing sounds, tones and prayers. Such categorization may help construct an applied holistic healing technology.

Building A Better Thought Trap:
Nutrition for Colossal Creativity & Peak Performance

Colossal creativity is a state of balance amongst the mind, the body, and the spirit that actuates human potential. This article concentrates on the vitamin and nutritional components of our system so that they resonate more clearly. The focus is on the brain which rests at the focal point of our physical, mental, and spiritual worlds. It traps and interprets inspiration that comes from deep within, transforming it from one world to another. Colossal creativity unfolds when we nourish every part of our being. Digest new thoughts and ideas to nourish your mind. Develop a daily practice -- whatever your faith -- that invites active participation from your Spiritual-Self.

Accessing Your Inner Creator

An essay for general audiences that explores the creative process comparing it with the duality described in many philosophical and spiritual traditions. Techniques are given to apply these strategies to ones individual work.

Creativity, Healing, & Shamanism

An academic, yet deeply personal essay about exceptional encounters in Brazil with alternative healing and spiritual tradition. It details a dynamical systems (chaos theory) model of creativity: at "The Valley of The Dawn" a spiritual healing community; in Amyr, a physical medium; and in my experience using Ayahuasca with "The Santo Daime Doctrine" in Rio de Janeiro.

Guest Articles

How Money is Created

by Paul Krumm

Toward an Economy Based on Curiosity and Caring Instead of Greed

by Paul Krumm


  • While the network of money transactions around the world is very complex, the way money works is really rather simple, and is understandable by the ordinary person.

  • The study of the operation of money is pivotal to any discussion of cultural values and social justice, as money is the basic language of economic relationships, and the values built into this language impact all social relationships.

In this paper we will describe how the present money game is structured.  We will show that the idea that money is value neutral is not correct, and go on to describe how money functions to promote greed.

Some preliminary suggestions will be given, based on theory and what has worked in the past, to change the values built into our money to ones that are more congruent with a curiosity and caring driven economy.

We will also show how the present money game is not sustainable, note that the same changes that lead to a curiosity and caring based system are the same changes that make money and our economy sustainable.

Transforming Reality Through The Arts

by Coni Ciongoli-Koepfinger

Could this be the key to CREATIVE EVOLUTION?  Is the creation of a society that questions the reality of its fiction and the fiction of its reality be but a page turn away. Conceivably it is no longer a question of controlling what is real; instead, is it a question of controlling the market analysis that controls what the individual assumes to be real? Perhaps then, we will able to give birth to the new science that is no longer bipolar in its relations of the art and the social – a new science that is born out of a culture that was modified to be the perfect blend of both fact and fiction.

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An essay written in the wake of events on September 11, 2001.  This piece addresses the struggles we experience to see beyond the pain.  The author draws together the thoughts of many personal growth writers into an inspiring tonic for our wounded souls.