October 25, 2007

Really a response to the posts on anamorphosis...

...but I couldn't figure out how to insert an image into a comment, so I just created a new post.

Another example that I thought of while reading about Holbein's anamorphosis was Salvador Dali... many of his paintings, being surrealist, include these same sort of distortions that are not equally visible (comprehensible?) from every perspective. One of my favorite examples of this is in \The Hallucinogenic Toreador\. What, from one angle, looks like a line of women's half-clothed bodies appears, from another angle, to be the bottoms of men's faces (presumably the toreadors) and the necks of their shirts. Not only does this fascinate me from a production standpoint (I am no artist, and I have no idea how one goes about painting one thing, much less one thing that could be another from a different angle), but I also find it interesting in that many of Dali's paintings also include religious imagery (such as Jesus' face in the top lefthand corner of this painting). It again harks back to the Latour article and the relationship between the first and the second regimes. Perhaps in this case, this distortion could be seen as alluding to the possibility of multiple readings but the impossibility of ever reading them in both ways simultaneously.

October 24, 2007

Music as Representation? a couple of random thoughts

Mitchell says "Many of these theories take music, (which for obvious reasons, is hard to describe in representational terms) as the paradigm for all the arts" (p. 17) and Hall says "Even music is a 'language" with complex relations between different sounds and chords, though it is a very special case since it can't easily be used to reference actual things or objects in the world" (p. 19) raises a couple of thoughts...as far as sounds go, in the movie Blow Out with John Travolta, where he is a sound guy for movies, he is ultimately after the perfect sounding "scream," and ends up using sadly his girlfriend, who gets murdered....yes her scream is authentic but is it because it was his girlfriend? what is being represented here?

and what about the many generations that appear at concerts - van halen, bruce springsteen...and the cultures that intermingle with that parents bringing kids...what are the parents saying that the music represents to them?

October 21, 2007

Natural Events as representative of ...something?

I am struck by the ability of representations to capture concepts that may not necessarily have direct physical existences. Concepts like purity, corruption, good, evil, and other things referred to as ideas do not have direct correlates in physical world. Language is tricky like that, and although the Inuit may have many, many words for types of snow, each of those words is a slicing up of reality in a specific way (as Burke would say, it is an application of terministic screens). Hall relates this to a clustering of meanings. He writes "We have called this a 'system of representation.' That is because it consists, not of individual concepts, but of different ways of organizing, clustering, arranging and classifying concepts, and of establishing complex relations between them" (p. 17). The above photograph ties to this concept pretty well, in that is represents (stands in for) the Greek legendary figures of the three fates. However, the three fates are conceptual, as far as we know, there were never three females, one a maiden, one a mother, and one a crone, who weaved the lives of heroes and average people, ending their lives by cutting the life thread.
Representation, it seems, has a difficult side as well. Take for instance, the very geeky reference I am about to make. In the online video game World of Warcraft, a virtual plague was accidentally spread throughout the virtual world, decimating entire imaginary cities and emptying villages. This random event has caught the attention of some epidemiologists who want to explore what this means for actual spreading of real diseases. These individuals want to use online games as a an example of what would happen in the real world should a large-scale plague actually occur. However, interpreting random events as representations of something strikes me as dangerous--it opens up all kinds of epistemological issues, at the very least. Through the representative powers of language, we can conceptually lay claim to the invisible and possibly non-existent (by that I mean those things that possibly exist only in our minds and at the level of language and symbol) but I would like to wager that more problems are created when we make realist connections between the objects-in-the-world with the concepts-in-our-head. Of course, there are those who argue that these concepts are ontological in nature (Kenneth Burke is one of them, and he made a career out of exploring the rhetorical qualities of language as ontological).

Article referencing the online plague for those interested.

Holbein's anamorphosis

After reading about Holbein's anamorphosis, I began to wonder if this concept of anamorphosis can be applied to other types of photos. One such design I came up with was the use of photo collages to product larger images. Such is found at the right with a collage of John Ashcroft (why John? Because this was the best example I could find online). Quite obviously, this photo will create a different effect depending upon where on stands. If they are close to the image, they will see the individual smaller pictures whereas viewing it from a distance will portray Mr. Ashcroft. 

How does this compare to Hoblein's The Ambassadors and can we possibly compare the two for their distorted features? I honestly don't know the answer but I thought it would be worth the discussion.