FC: Why did you recently decide to go public with your interest in extraterrestrial activities? This is not a new concern for you; you've been thinking about it for years.
JM: For a long time I was more directly interested in cosmology than in aliens. But in the last few years I started reading more about them, and I became convinced that there really are UFOs and aliens all around us. Aliens are elusive and hard to pin down because of their other-dimensionality; their medium of travel of time, as far-fetched as that seems. I think there are actually thousands of extraterrestrials-and other entities that you wouldn't call extraterrestrials—flying and running around, looking at us, studying us. While they may think we're kind of cool in some way, even brilliant, I think the wonder how we can be so opaque, why we don't see them more than we do. It's amazing that we don't really see what's going on. But I think we're purposefully "programmed" in that way. I think there is a reason for our forgetting where we originally came from; so we could focus on things here. But now, I think, there's a reason for us to remember where we came from so we can integrate that with what we've learned since we've been here, so we can get the perspective we badly need. Then we can more effectively set about the business of moving on—and up. The whole thing adds up to a very provocative idea that I think impinges in important ways on humankind's development.
FC: Is that why you're speaking on the record about these issues?
JM: Yes, but even before I did concerted studies of UFOs, it helped me maintain my focus to think I was trying to do the kind of work that could have been brought here by a UFO. I liked imagining that these cool, advanced beings might zip here in their time-space vehicles and leave objects for us to look at. I like the idea of making objects that are equivalent to such things.
FC: Have you ever thought about a comparison of your sculptures to the monolith in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey?
JM: That's a good example of what I'm talking about. Of course, that monolith was essentially a technological instrument—but I sometimes think of my works as technological instruments, too. At the time, some people thought I had designed the monolith, or that I had been derived from my work.
FC: Could you discuss your conception of time?
JM: We think we know what time is, but we don't. There is what could be called "Real" time, which is really all time-past, present and future-rolled into one fantastic, simultaneous pattern. And there are "raying out" all around us just about numberless futures and numberless pasts, and numberless parallel and alternate probabilities. All, as mind-boggling as it may seem, are real dimensions of existence.
FC: When you talk about the simultaneity of real time, I'm reminded of the story you once told me about an experience you had in high school, which seems to summarize what you're talking about.
JM: It happened on my last day at high school, after graduation. I lived about 20 miles from the school in the country in Northern California. That evening when I got off the school bus, my mind was full of thoughts about where my life might go next. I was thinking big, wondering thoughts. "Is there a God?" "What is the nature of everything?" I stood next to the almost-deserted highway for quite awhile, looking off to the west toward the mountains, where the setting sun was turning the sky into a beautiful riot of color. And a strong, curious feeling came over me: I felt like I was being watched from behind, from up in the sky. It unnerved me a little, but it was kind of spiritual and food feeling, as if God were watching me. And that, for a while, was that.
And then one evening about 15 years later, I was in a contemplative state, remembering things, and I remembered that experience. And in remembering, I did what I think people often do, which is to remember from the outside, as if viewing a photograph of the event. So I saw myself standing there by the road, looking at the sunset, with the countryside spread out all around me. I drew the scene into focus in my mind, pulling it closer into view, moving closer to it. As I did this, I suddenly realized that I was "coming into" the scene exactly at the point in the sky from which I had felt I was being watched 15 years before. I was utterly shocked. Something like a lighting bolt snapped between me and my past self, and I felt myself rubber-banding perceptually back and forth from one location to the other- from one body to the other. In a flabbergasted state I realized I had been watched then, and that the watcher was me, my future self!
The fact that I had thought I was being watched by an exalted spirit-something like God-was not, I had learned in the interim, so strange. People who have near death experiences often meet a dazzling spiritual being who later turns out to be themselves, or a part of themselves. That experience of mine was a small but effective illustration of the existence of a wider reality. To perceive the total reality—something close to the "real picture," in which everything really is simultaneous-would be, I think, incredibly confusing.
FC: You also believe that there are certain people, like shamans, seers, and artists, who can see other realities. Is the role of the shaman one that you've adopted for yourself?
JM: To an extent. Both a shaman and an artist are invited to be true activators of what can be. I think of the world as a potential sculpture, and humans as potential living art works-or, really, as master sculptors. The challenge is to make the planet into a real art work, so that human beings themselves become as highly developed as possible.
All of us have the potential to develop to a state where we're, well, really cool beings, where we can do things like see through time, and where we're actually wise. If everyone on earth can mange to get to that point or anywhere near it, the earth will be a radically different place. There won't be wars, or starvation, or overpopulation, or crimes, or diseased. In a developed world you wouldn't need any art as we know it, because everything would be art. Art is the higher, inner self that one is trying to become or trying to form. And I have no patience with the desire professed by some people to go in the other direction. There's only one way worth going, and that's "up."
FC: You are very optimistic.
JM: Real art is the positive business of doing things that stimulate the forming of a world in which human beings can become advanced beings. It seems to me that's the best thing that any creative endeavor can do. If everybody did that just a tiny bit, it would alter the world immediately. Pessimism and cynicism are poison. Optimism, and the will to "go there anyway," are elements of the real light.
FC: How would you say that these beliefs of yours, especially that respect to UFOs, are manifested in your work?
JM: They're pertinent to the making of my work and to the function of my work in the world. I use these ideas somewhat symbolically or metaphorically; the work isn't directly about aliens and UFOs, but it is about multiple dimensions of reality and the development of consciousness. You have a sculpture, for example, that is material and real, but at the same time it can appear illusionistic, like a holographic image: a representation of the physical dimension as well as the nonphysical (or mental, or spiritual) dimension. In the sense my work implies the existence of a reality beyond the physical- one that's right here, coincident with the physical, hidden in it, but which through a slight change in viewpoint becomes evident. As such, the work stands to alter or expand to some degree one's conception of what "reality" consists of.
On the other hand, my works are also simply what I make in order to explore the expressive capabilities of pure and beautiful form. In this sense I simply think them up, largely through an intuitive process, using as a guide my sense of what will have being, strength and the right kind of stance or attitude.
FC: Has moving to New Mexico affected the development of your life or your work?
JM: I suppose so, though not too much. I don't really think differently in New Mexico, but I do seem to be able to think more easily here. Living in downtown Los Angeles got to be just too hard. I also lived in New York earlier, and it was exciting, but I fount that after being there for awhile you're just mostly dealing with the city. While New Mexico is known for UFOs, I didn't move here because of that, but because its beautiful and peaceful. It's just a good place to be now.