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Matthew Dallman is a composer, philosopher, & blogger. He has released three albums of original compositions, and published many essays that deal with integral art. His website is

An AQAL Art Manifesto

Matthew Dallman

Etymology: Italian, from manifestare to manifest,
Latin, manifestus
Date: 1647
: a written statement declaring publicly
the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer

Art-making, it appears, can be just this simple: Artists have vision, and then work to convey that vision for others through an artistic medium.

This dynamic is easily expressed, perhaps even obvious, yet it entirely frames what we are calling an AQAL approach to integral art-making. “Integral” means all-embracing, inclusive, comprehensive, and non-marginalizing. “AQAL” is short-hand for all quadrants, all levels, all streams, all states, all types—all of which can be understood as the experiential components of art-making that are available to an artist at every step of the way.

An AQAL approach is analogous to a whole-person approach, or in our case, a whole-artist approach. We aim to be as integral in our art-making practice as possible, with fully-exposed consciousness, and with fully-manifested light. An AQAL approach touches on all core aspects of being an artist, and all core aspects of making art. Instead of an oppressive prison of artistic dogmata, AQAL is like a flexible operating system, or what we call an integral operating system (IOS) for artists. With each use, you can glimpse a portion of your Original conscious light. And in a very real way, artists can choose their own endlessly ravishing AQAL art life-path, which is filled with adventures (and ordinary days) of ongoing artistic realization, not of who you are, but who you can become.

An AQAL approach is not artistic eclecticism, or an approach that emphasizes one aspect of artistic endeavor at the expense of others. AQAL is not a prescriptive set of rigid rules, and using an AQAL approach is not more important than the simple and mysterious ongoing creation of beautiful art. It does provide a balanced and all-encompassing framework for sustainable artistic development, more so than any other framework currently available. With an AQAL approach, we attempt to negate the dirty bathwater and preserve the divine baby in every part of our art-making practice.


We take an AQAL approach to art because other contemporary and historical approaches do not appear to be the most informed way to reconcile the age-old question, "How do I make art"? It's not that approaches in contemporary art schools are out and out wrong, or that historical accounts of artistic practice are useless to our understanding. This is far from the case. Most everything of artistic past and present has intrinsic and unique gifts to offer us if we as artists are open and aware. The AQAL approach to art is at heart an organized means to give and receive those artistic gifts as fully-conscious and fully-energized love.

The best available information and research gathered shows that certain core components exist and can be cultivated for any human endeavor. Briefly introduced here in basic form for an artistic application, the AQAL model has five fundamental components. Quadrants are the core perspectives of artistic subjective and objective, in artistic singular and artistic plural. Levels are the holarchical stable structures of artistic development that, for example, can be characterized as egocentric, sociocentric, worldcentric, and Kosmocentric. Streams are relatively specific areas or lines for artistic development, such as contemplative, creative, technical, ethical, and others. States include the temporal flows between waking, dreaming, and formless artistic awareness. Types include the magnetic poles of masculine and feminine energy available equally to men and women alike. All of these are explored in a much deeper fashion, but this is a general sense of each component of an AQAL approach to art-making.


In order to construct an AQAL approach, we take as truth the following common knowledge: several identifiable components of art-making exist for intimate and thorough cultivation. In the context of that integral embrace, we develop informed inquiries and then answer those inquiries with specific art-making activities. We reflect upon the effects our approach has on our practice, our art, and the reception by others, and we continually refine our practice in the multi-form act of deep simplification according to our most resonant core artistic energies.

Artists can develop deeper consciousness and more radiant light within these components through an extraordinarily simple and effective process. First, form an inquiry. For example, ask, “How musical can my everyday awareness be?” From there, simply answer the inquiry with an actual artistic injunction, or activity. The experience, or data, that the injunction generates can be viewed in self-reflection, or amongst a community of artists with similar experience. An AQAL approach to integral art can therefore be thought of as a comprehensive model, a touchstone, for the development of your own set of artistic inquiries.


An AQAL approach can be used in any artistic endeavor, and what that means is something extraordinary and very exciting: An AQAL approach can provide a way for painters to learn from musicians, who can learn from poets, from painters, sculptors, filmmakers, and artists in all other mediums, through the highly informed language and energy born of AQAL experience and commonality. Furthermore, artists can learn from psychologists, who learn from ecologists, who learn from lawyers, mystics, doctors, sociologists, scientists, businesspeople, and practitioners in all other nodes of human endeavor. Each can rightly nest as manifest aspects of the Good, the True, or in art's case, the Beautiful. We all can truly work together, because we can know “the what's, the where's, and the how's” of whole-living, born of fundamental interdependency.

The AQAL approach therefore provides a way out of the fragmentation and dissociation of contemporary artistic life, and by extension all of contemporary life. It provides a starting point for a world-wide open dialogue on how best to fully live, how best to operate. And it's a highly effective navigation tool through the age of vast informational overload and technological glut.

As we reflect and create art, we can see that an AQAL approach to art-making cultivates the ongoing gift of respect—for yourself, for your art, and for other artists and their beautiful art. We cultivate this respect through ancient ways informed by contemporary understanding: namely, gain true and authentic experience, and then simply live.

As we honor as much human experience as is possible, we open as artists to the vast spectrum of our potentials and core energies, both personal and communal, all of which lie patient, awaiting our artistic embrace as openness, and awaiting our abilities to gently but purposefully open them for others through art. And in the end, as in the beginning, art can be a humble vehicle for conscious light, radiant presence, and the naked Divine, unmasked as pure love for all willing to look and to feel.

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©2003 Electric Goose Productions

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