“My excellency, I could illustrate the greatest manuscript of all time for you. Since my eyes will no longer be distracted by the filth of this world.”
Quote from ALIF in My Name Is Red by Ohran Pamuk
“Seeing is believing”, “a lens for the world”, “visionaries”, “point of view”: The eye is a metaphor for understanding or belief. But why do we connect the eye with our understanding of the world? Do you see what I’m talking about?
What if you couldn’t see the words that I have posted here?
What if, as this post continues, you descend into a pit of blindness?
Is it easier to only believe what you see? Or is there more to be seen if you can figure out a way to look beyond the traditional, the typical, the incidental?
The idea of blindness is discussed in Orhan Pamuk‘s book My Name Is Red. Blindness is used as both a metaphor and a story-telling device, but it was chosen by the author (partly) as a symbol of the commitment of master miniaturist painters such as Bihzad and their dedication to painting even as their eyesight failed them. Blindness, in the book, is seen by some as a mark of pride of a true master miniature painter. It is put forward that only through blindness can we really see the world for what it is.Continue reading “Seeing is Believing – Blindness metaphors and understanding”
One of the regularly cited problems with modern cities is the constant feeling of displacement that can occur in the repetitive landscape of supermarkets, airports or office blocks. A restoration for this is often found in cultural movements and architectural developments that adjust a population’s sense of place.
Maria Lewicka describes home as ‘a symbol of continuity and order, rootedness, self-identity, attachment, privacy, comfort, security and refuge’. This importance of the idea of home is continuously repeated in studies on the concept of place, and also in literature and art. But most profoundly, it finds its way into our daily lives. Order is the key point, but in consistently displaced circumstances people cannot find this sense of order.
In Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News, the pathetically pitiable protagonist Quoyle meanders back from New Jersey to the home-land of his family, Newfoundland. Quoyle is a clod, unable to help himself or his family, and he seemingly does not fit into any public society. His work and life are in as much disarray as one another. But when he returns to his family’s home-place something happens that makes everything fit into place. There is not one event, just a coming together of place and person, and a type of normality is restored. The place does not create the identity, the journey does. But the home-place creates stability, order and sanctuary. Continue reading “Home is Where the Hearth is III – Return”
Displacement from home is an uncomfortable feeling. It breeds suspicion and a feeling of nervousness, and rightly so. If, as previously discussed, home is a refuge, then displacement from home must create an opposing effect.
During displacement there is a chaotic element. People find it hard to settle; rules can change regularly if moving from
You go to a place, you go to another place. You return home.
You don’t return for 5 minutes to the bank. So what is the difference between home and another place? Why do we separate these two entities, and how do we create this separation?
Home is safety and privacy. It is outside of public norms; we do not have to behave with the same social rigour at home that we do in public places. A home allows us to dance on the kitchen table wearing our favourite Speedos if we should so choose; it does not conform to public rules and order, but to our own system. Continue reading “Home is Where the Hearth is I – Departure”
In the late 18th Century, Russian ruler Catherine the Great chose to visit the villages of her country to see how the peasants were living. Her first minister, Potemkin, arranged to have façades of fake villages filled with actors constructed along Catherine’s route that showed a scenic, peaceful and prosperous country. Actors played the parts of the peasants, and Catherine remained in the confines of her carriage as she travelled through. Potemkin feared that Catherine might react badly if she encountered the despair and poverty that was really being faced by the Russian serfs, and as a result of his actions Catherine saw a healthy, happy nation. The idea of a fake façade built to distort a view became known as a Potemkin Village.
Moon Under Water is one year old! And on the same day that the world is due to end! Great!
Twelve months ago to this day the blog started with no real direction. It began as a series of meandering posts on various topics, with each post designed to respond to the last in some way. It has been a busy year, both in blog-world and real-world, and I just wanted to set aside a post to say thank you to all readers both regular and irregular (or “odd”).
A picture tells a thousand words. But there are cases where a dozen words can redefine a picture.
In his 1977 publication Image Music Text critic Roland Barthes observed how text can often become parasitical upon images. This happens both in spaces like galleries and exhibitions, where wall-mounted captions can supersede what the eye observes in an art piece, or in printed photograph captions where a description of an image can often clash with what the image actually shows. Barthes‘ theory proposes that the closer text is to an image the less more incorporated it becomes, so with image captions that sit outside an image more can possibly be inferred than by words trapped inside an image.
inter |inˈtər| verb ( -terred , -terring ) [ trans. ] (usu. be interred) place (a corpse) in a grave or tomb, typically with funeral rites
active |ˈaktiv| adjective (of a person) engaging or ready to engage in physically energetic pursuits
(The above definitions are from the Oxford English Dictionary)
A touch of housekeeping again. Just wanted to say a very quick congratulations to Built Dublin, winners of the Best Arts/Culture blog at the 2012 Blog Awards Ireland. Moon Under Water picked up a beautiful certificate for the blog’s listing as a finalist, and I enjoyed a terrific night at the awards ceremony. A new page of recommended blogs is under development – watch this space.
The term ‘interactive’ has become synonymous with technology that allows for user engagement. This includes video games, websites, mobile phone applications and other digitally-based media. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that “interactivity” is perhaps more than it seems (see the definition above), that it is the undead media-manipulated masses of dancing a morose merengue.
Consider for a moment the interactivity of the daily commute. Most people who will be reading this will have used trains, trams, subways and buses as modes of transport in recent times. However, what the average reader may not have noticed is the growing tendency for the undead to meander among them on a daily basis. Every morning coffee-deprived, bleary-eyed commuters board their local public transport contraptions, staring down into their hands at hidden devices that keep them pacified. Continue reading “Inter Active – Zombies in the machine”
Each year coyotes, somehow, make their way through the sprawling mass of the five burroughs and find their way into Central Park on the island of Manhattan. Island or not, dangerous or not, life seems to find a way to squeeze through the gaps to insulated sanctuaries even in the most unpredictable circumstances.
Islands have an impenetrable feel to them. They are locked away from access except by sea or by sky, and yet there always seems to be a travelling presence of something. There are uncountable records of remote islands ceding to populations from insect, animal, bird and even human. And as unlikely as it seems, and no matter how remote the destination, somehow life finds a way to expand and populate.
I come from a nation that spends quite a large proportion of its time running from its visual history. Irish people often disregard the “Celtic” roots, the patterns and spirals and the ancient mythic tales of wars, magic and nature as fodder for American tourists. There is an unspoken desire to “move forward”, to reflect Ireland as the technological centre of western Europe, to emphasise how we have “caught up” and become part of the modern world. “We’re not pagan bog people anymore!” we shout emphatically at anyone who will listen, “We’ve built motorways and tall buildings so Intel and Facebook and Google would come!”
There is sometimes a lack of pride in the magic and runes of the ancient history and folklore in our country. Contemporary Irish art and design often analyse global themes and use global methods. Our current artists take pride in being well-travelled and educated in the artwork of Europe and America. Irish film is polished and masked with an international professionalism. Yet regardless of our motivation the island itself has trapped our ancient culture within, and the influence of the visual arts of our country is inescapable.
Culture is endlessly intertwined with place and history. While watching modern English cinema I often think of JMW Turner and his use of muted colours and sprawling compositions. Turner’s paintings are fastidious in the foreground, containing detail and narrative. These foregrounds are often overshadowed by bleak and near-colourless skies and background imagery that consume most of the space on the canvas.