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Artist and graphic designer John Pirman has been creating imaginative interpretations of places within Marie Selby Gardens Botanical Gardens, and other iconic Sarasota spots, since he moved to Sarasota in 2008. He’s seen his images reproduced in magazines and as artwork, but viewing them juxtaposed with the reality, at Marie Selby Gardens latest “Living Museum” exhibit, John Pirman: Diving into Nature, was more than a thrill for the artist. “It was “Meta,” he said.

The first time I heard the word Meta was in the 1980s. IT guys referred to the coded layers of embedded database technology that defined and described and indexed all the other data, as Metadata. Today, search engines perpetually crawl through the Metaverse, to find website Metadata to answer all of our endless queries. The Metaverse also refers to…jeez… almost everything: virtual worlds, artificial intelligence engines, Amazon business strategy and so on.

“Koi Pond” by John Pirman.

I’m pretty sure that John’s Meta, is more about self-reflection: “when something refers back to or is about itself,” (def: Thus, for the artwork “Koi Pond,” viewers stand in front of the real koi pond, with its Buddha statue and super giant fish, and the piece (which depicts the koi pond, the Buddha and the koi) floats above it. Furthermore, those images are reflected in the pond water, and so on and so on…perhaps into infinity or maybe even Metainfinity. 

My favorite use of the word Meta is (you guessed it!) Metaphysics. Whereas physics is the science of physical things – like matter and energy and how they interact – the Metaphysical examines the nature of reality and existence. Like anything MetaMetaphysics has many levels: being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space being just a few of its qualities.

Go see John Pirman: Diving into Nature, (through September 17), so you can discover its level of Meta for yourself.

“Jackknife Diver” by John Pirman.