on Pareidolia and Simulacrum

(below texts are extracted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareidolia and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacrum)

Pareidolia / a psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus, usually an image or a sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists / word derives from the Greek words para , in this context meaning something faulty or wrong) and the noun eidōlon / pareidolia can cause people to interpret random images, or patterns of light and shadow, as faces

Simulacrum / Plato speaks of two kinds of image making. The first is a faithful reproduction, attempted to copy precisely the original. The second is intentionally distorted in order to make the copy appear correct to viewers. He gives the example of Greek statuary, which was crafted larger on the top than on the bottom so that viewers on the ground would see it correctly. If they could view it in scale, they would realize it was malformed. This example from the visual arts serves as a metaphor for the philosophical arts and the tendency of some philosophers to distort truth so that it appears accurate unless viewed from the proper angle. Nietzsche addresses the concept of simulacrum (but does not use the term) in the Twilight of the Idols, suggesting that most philosophers, by ignoring the reliable input of their senses and resorting to the constructs of language and reason, arrive at a distorted copy of reality.

Postmodernist French social theorist Jean Baudrillard argues that a simulacrum is not a copy of the real, but becomes truth in its own right: the hyperreal. Where Plato saw two types of representation—faithful and intentionally distorted (simulacrum)—Baudrillard sees four: (1) basic reflection of reality; (2) perversion of reality; (3) pretence of reality (where there is no model); and (4) simulacrum, which “bears no relation to any reality whatsoever”. In Baudrillard’s concept, like Nietzsche’s, simulacra are perceived as negative, but another modern philosopher who addressed the topic, Gilles Deleuze, takes a different view, seeing simulacra as the avenue by which an accepted ideal or “privileged position” could be “challenged and overturned”. Deleuze defines simulacra as “those systems in which different relates to different by means of difference itself. What is essential is that we find in these systems no prior identity, no internal resemblance”.

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David Campany’s, A Handful of Dust

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(image and text from http://davidcampany.com/a-handful-of-dust)

“A Handful of Dust is David Campany’s speculative history of the last century, and a visual journey through some of its unlikeliest imagery. Let’s suppose the modern era begins in October of 1922. A little French avant-garde journal publishes a photograph of a sheet of glass covered in dust. The photographer is Man Ray, the glass is by Marcel Duchamp. At first they call it a view from an aeroplane. Then they call it Dust Breeding. It’s abstract, it’s realist. It’s an artwork, it’s a document. It’s revolting and compelling. The very same month, a little English journal publishes TS Eliot’s poem The Waste Land. “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

And what if dust is really the key to the ensuing decades? Why do we dislike it? Is it cosmic? We are stardust, after all. Is it domestic? Inevitable and unruly, dust is the enemy of the modern order, its repressed other, its nemesis. But it has a story to tell from the other side.”

intersections and articulations : part 3

Study (Blue) for 'Floor' 1992 by Rachel Whiteread born 1963

Work by Rachel Whiteread, “Study (Blue) for Floor”, 1992

The approach of the InSite Arts organisations resembles the testing boundaries task for this year of the MA:  the creation of a new work to be exhibited in a public space. As mentioned in this audio file, in a commission scenario the artist must have the freedom to research and present a proposal for a piece of work that will  have references from the installation space as a well as the greater space that this space is situated. Immediately this gives the artist a direction and guidance as to their research. At the same time this gives many possibilities for the final work. Commissions may be good opportunities for artists to develop several ideas that they might not have developed otherwise because of restrictions relating to space and funding.  When it comes to installation the technicians will need clear instructions and supervision and coordination, especially when you have several disciplines involves (builders, carpenters, electricians) – as the architect guides them for the building construction, similarly the artist must act for the preparation of the space for the installation.  The artist should also take into account the materials and specifics of the construction.  Similarly to the contextual reference of the work to the space and greater location, the aesthetic and visual parameters should also be researched.

Reflecting on the video on Rachel Whiteread, it is interesting to see how the combination of the exploration of what seems as a simple idea with a memory or thought at the back of your mind can develop into a a project. Also the fact that the artist collects, records ideas, draws, makes sketches, makes sculptures create a database of information that can be further researched and developed.