Time, Happy New Year and Other Subjects
Much has been written about the distraction of new technology, hypereality and its artificial and acquiescing nature. Capitalism and postmodernity are bedfellows, dependent upon each other. The recession is long-term and further starves the vulnerable of money, while the wealthy continue to benefit, while politicians legislate to protect the vulnerable! So little has changed in the West and probably beyond, at least not over the last few years. What hasn't changed is the accelerated rate of change, that we should expect to continue for years to come.
If we are well versed in new communications and the state of current affairs, then why should we write at all? Writing is tiresome and ponderous when compared to video, the cogency of photography, the dramatic immediacy of watching sport, the quick laughs and emotional responses to TV entertainment. Writing is dry, thoughtful and time consuming. Indeed, words are limited in their potency and range of expressivity, when compared to images or sounds. Music seems to access our innermost feelings, thoughts and touch upon the rhythms of breath and heart-rate with an immediacy that cannot be matched by any other medium.
Yet we write. It isn't just the personal that can be expressed by writing, an individual's subjective responses to a world in flux. It is the limitations of writing that give it such potency; a power of communication, accessibility. Writings weaknesses are its strengths.
If you are writing about the early 21st Century then it would be difficult not to touch upon the dramatic alterations to sexual relationships. We all know about high divorce rates, short-term marriages, affairs for the many, short-term "partnerships" and the legalisation of gay marriage, but there are other aspects of postmodern relationships that are equally important. Recently I've been reading much about young (and not so young) men and women who prefer to live alone. These burgeoning parts of Western societies find aloneness more conducive to contentment than sharing their life with a sexual partner. The reasons for this are manifold, yet cogent. A culture of suspicion and overt legislation, a reliance on technological communications, hyper-reality, its distraction and promise of the unobtainable, the entrance of many more women into the workplace and an increase in unemployment for many men and the fleeting nature of societies in flux all contribute to this occurrence.
The behaviour of women has also changed, as a result of new legislations to protect women and to enforce "equality". Equality is often anything but, and shifts emphasis and discrimination onto men, tied by the fears of employers and the overbearing actions of the divorce courts. All this has resulted in an attitude of cynicism and fear in many women, causing a distrust of men and relationships and a need to tag on to numerous admirers, pulling them in and then rejecting them in equal measure. However, men too play their part in the current nature of transient relationships. Online porn and casual sex may be interesting diversions, but have an impact on long-term relationships. Equality often causes women numerous problems as well as men. Many women are not cut out to be ambitious and hardened career women and find these expectations difficult, if not impossible to meet. Self-reliance has its advantages and its disadvantages, for example bringing up a child by yourself while trying to hold down full-time employment is both stressful and potentially damaging to children. Many women wish to stay at home and bring up their children, but postmodern realities make this task difficult or even impossible.
Living by legislation, communicated by a multitude of new technologies (we are almost at the point of continually being plugged into devices) leads to an artificial understanding of the real. It's a bit like living within a film rather than going to the cinema, watching and then leaving the film behind. If we are always interacting with a film, we start to wonder what is real and what is a film? If this is the case then we may start to ask questions about gender, gender roles and lose touch with the physical and biological differences between the sexes.
Of course, there have always been people who have been more androgynous than the majority, this is nothing new. However, since gender seems to have become a big issue for people today, we could suggest that this increase is a result of hyper-reality; a loss of touch with reality, the physical and our sexual identities. Coupled with improvements in medical science, gender realignment may become more common. I appreciate the sometimes, profound difficulties that people can experience regarding their gender, and this can have a biological component. However, the physical needn't be regarded as transient or superfluous, it is an important and essential aspect of ourselves.
Writing on the Internet is both liberating and restrictive. People may read a book for hours, but a flickering screen is hard on the eyes and the miasma of information available to the reader is very distracting. My writing on this electronic page is in danger of becoming "Internet prolix"; an irrelevance via time constraints and a plethora of distractions. I guess, unwittingly I have returned to the subject of time even though I have no desire to write about it. It seems that the subject of time is intrusive, which may well indicate our societies obsession with the overt measurement of something
If this writing contains a circular argument then I should end with a coda: and wish all readers, viewers and contributors a very happy 2015. Although, I must say, did anyone notice how fast 2014 passed? Does time pass more quickly as you get older?
Raphael Preston: "Selfridges Oxford Street London 2014"
"Selfridges Oxford Street London 2014" by Raphael Preston.
"… their bodies were streaked … the dancing began ..."
Well, I haven't gone out dancing tonight (working too hard(!)) and I await the kick-off of the England World Cup match against Italy, so I have a spare hour to enjoy some writing! And here it is!
Raphael's graphic and dynamic account of window-shopping in London, invites the viewer to consider both the aesthetic and conceptual aspects of his photographic art-work. How much of the colouration is due to photo-editing and how much it was part of the display, I cannot say. However, the splattered paint seems too daring to be entirely the work of window dressers, even for a store such as Selfridges. Therefore I will assume there is at least, some editing.
The artist leaves comments refering to dancing and a battle. Conceptually, for me I can only conclude that Raphael intends to inform us about tribal dances and battles that are evoked by a shop display at a prestigious store in an affluent area of London. So, Western cultures are aspiring to tribal cultures! So much for the supremacy of the West, see Postmodern theory and globalisation/multiculturalism. I also note the cyborgesque nature of the mannequins in the series of photos. Photographers and artists who regularly reference mannequins are not only refering to the dehumanizing nature of capitalism, but the condition of "fluid indentities" and "fractured subjectivities", that we currently experience in the West. Particularly in large cities.
Well, England are kicking off soon, so after writing about the conceptual evocations of the work (and the series) I will briefly touch on the the aesthetic relevance of the work.
Like an automatic post-painterly, post-modern painting, dripping with haptic, layers of abstraction this photographic "accident" (art-concrete or "found objects"(?)) is a great example of contemporary, visual art. I resist using the term "avant-garde" because it is debatable whether there is such a thing anymore, perhaps "cutting edge" is less rigorous but more relevant?
Of course, these are my critical murmerings and they may not be what the photographic artist meant at all! I reckon I've touched upon some salient sentiments, but the artist knows best what his intentions were! I forgot to mention musicality; the energy and colour suggest a musical sensibility, but England are just about to kick off! So I'll leave you to consider this and I'll be off to watch the beautiful game....
This project keeps me on looking, and I hope it will do the same to others ….
How Light Forms a Physical Connection Between an Artificial Suburban Environment and the Ether
Quiet goes the fraction into illustration,
as though inference were bread to feed the human.
Your caliber strains the faculty of belief.
Just one pronouncement comprises mediation.
Lasting moments tense otherwise ripe elastic.
Indivisible comes crashing down on justice.
". . . 'Tis of thee," spoke the prophet, as though eavesdropping.
One of us is doomed to be called professional.
High stakes, cold snakes, posture after posture lakeside.
This early stuff of chemistry fills camisoles.
la reconnaissance et l'aspiration
Here Jamari appears like a quixotic apparition; a feminine ideal or oracle, perhaps? Her balletic pose is probably born of "suffrage" more than graceful delicacy, but that is the nature of dance! I liked the presence of a costume designer in the photo, helping to create a meticulous illusion of beauty. As cosmetic as the theatre can be and as hard working as performers have to be, the stage continues to call us to "tread the boards" in order to perform a representational version of human experience.
Recently I am doing a lot of Bhangra dancing as well as Salsa, although Salsa seems to be gradually being shunned for the less elegant Kizomba, and I am becoming drawn more to the idea of the heartbeat as an intrinsic time-signature in both dance and music. Whereas the heartbeat is often used rythmically to denote romance in music. The presence of an enduring pulse seems more important today in dance and music than ever before.
How we ever got so romantic I don't know, but the ebb and flow of the heartbeat seems to echo through cities, reverberate in concert halls and pulse steadily through pop music. As a dancer, it should come as no surprise that my attention is often focused on my breath and heartbeat, however increasingly my timing is shaped by the response of my heart rate to the continuous flux of musical tempos.
Thank you to Jlior for letting me use her photo in this image.
Convenience isn't Everything
Interesting post from the Economist.com where author Andrew Keen argues that the Internet has contributed to greater inequality in society.
My response was originally posted in the comments section of the article. I have pasted it below.
"I think Keen makes some compelling points. Particularly when you consider the increasing corporate nature of large Intenet companies. Even though IT can create jobs, usually there are more jobs lost than created, which is the appeal of IT in the workplace; it reduces staff. Intriguingly, when I first started using the Internet about 20 years ago, I was blown away by the creativity of users. However, today I get a potent sense of censorship, restrictions and cynical advertising/corporate enterpise. Even though there are a few opportunities for people via the Internet, largely and incrementaly the Internet, in my view, contributes more to global and societal inequality than it does to equality."
An interesting series of self-portrait photos by "Kahinaspirit" entitled "Reborn", I felt compelled to utilise the power that they featured. Cropped, distorted and layered with digital abstracts, I still feel that the potency of the models expression is retained, and perhaps enhanced?
Thanks to Kahinaspirit for letting me use her photo in this image! :-)
Gravity (3D Version)
This is the first 3D film I've ever seen at the cinema. The 3D imaging hurts your eyes as objects career into you retina, or so it seems! Gravity is essentially a day in the life of two astronauts, well arguably three and eventually only one. For me, Gravity is an empty vessel that has very little of any significance to express at all. In fact it is a kind of Cowboy film in Outer Space, with a minimum of characters. George Clooney is problematic as, well a cowboy in Space and Sandra Bullock is little more than useless, apart from her gravity defying gymnastics that are reasonably aesthetic and exhibit some physicality.
Nonetheless, the film is curiously good, although far from fascinating. It isn't the strength of the acting - mediocre at best and it isn't the predictable and, arguably facile storyline, therefore it must have been, at least in part, the effects that enthralled. However, there's more to Gravity than that; Outer Space, isolation, globalisation and multiculturalism in abandoned, fractured space stations! Postmodern? Well, I wouldn't like to say that the writer and director were utilising space travel as a postmodern metaphor, as a film akin to the Matrix may consciously do, but the feelings of isolation and human vulnerability were palpable.
At one stage Bullock's character feels helpless and lost while alone in a space capsule. She turns off the oxygen and Clooney's now deceased character comes to her in a semi-conscious dream. This solipsistic, narcissistic state (dream state) with echoing memories of "authentic" humanity motivate her to begin her trip back to Earth. Throughout the film the characters are cyborgs dependent upon and, potentially destroyed by new technology.
Ok, so "Hal" isn't going to develop consciousness and throw a multitude of philosophical and ethical questions into the narrative, as we saw in 2001; A Space Odyssey. However, Bullock's characters return to a foetal position, for me has echoes of 2001 and the Alien series of films where Sigourney Weaver's character becomes the mother of an alien/human hybrid. In Gravity we witness the frailty of human existence both emotionally and physically. This could be seen as a metaphor for the psychological vulnerability of people living in big cities, spending much of their time in front of screens reacting to media thats only justification is its self. Or money may be more honest, but less philosophically appealing. Baudrillard may have seen reverberations of simulacra in Gravity.
It is worth mentioning Bullock's character's descent to Earth. When she lands in a lake, I assume in the outer-reaches of China, she mistakenly opens the hatch of the space capsule and water, like oxygenless Outer Space, begins to pour into the craft. She manages to escape and eventually swims up to the surface gasping for air. Indeed, there is no escape in Space (nor in cyber space) from the trails and dangers of life. Nor back on Earth, where for all its familiarity and beauty, potential risks lie around every corner. Strangely, there is no welcoming committee to greet Bullock's character; she appears to revel in the isolation, grasping at the soil at the water's edge breathing the air and feeling the warmth of the Sun on her skin. Isolation, throughout the film seems inevitable and desirable.
The U.S. has stopped funding the Space Shuttle for a while now (the Shuttle is pivotal to the film) and, it seems that according to Gravity even in tandem with space stations from other countries (notably Russia and China) the U.S. does not have the power nor ability to conquer even the nearest reaches of Outer Space. In fact, the U.S. may be a victim of its own success, re: the Space Shuttle disasters. When you consider that a stray missile causes great damage to Space stations and the Shuttle in Gravity, both the difficulty of conquering Space and the risks associated with new technologies seem particularly, relevant points.
In conclusion, it is once again worth noting that Gravity is not a "conceptual" film in the sense that it doesn't make any profound points about contemporary life or, indeed about our possible futures. Nonetheless, Postmodern themes are touched upon in a playful and almost incidental manner. Not only do we have fractured subjectivities and fluid identities we also experience fractured proximities. The inability of the U.S. to conquer "local" Outer Space could be seen as indicative of Western decline and the progress of emerging economies. However, for me it points more towards an economic, intellectual and cultural stagnancy rather than paranoia about non-Western supremacy. In this sense Gravity is both Postmodern and ironic and cites isolation and aloneness as implicit to both contemporary life and to our technology-driven futures. Bullock's character is spared by Clooney's character, which appears to suggest the primacy of the life-giver. Nevertheless, ironically her descent to Earth results in near-death and isolation.
Blue Skies Trace Fingers Across Our Eyes
distance du loin
I wanna be famous
like a Greek sculpture
I want I want post-historia
Gay militaria puissance
drone attack apercu
art is measurable
at the point of sale poetry
is an eye looking back
in situ, garnered by loins
to sanction epistle
Ornee, une touche des femmes
If I look again
will the miasma make sense?
What does this mean to a
point in a turn
a clavicle a point to the sky?
Sooth, my directionless child
weapons are our first choice.