Developed by Manoela Bowles based on Jean Gebser’s “The Ever-Present Origin”.
Hi, my name is Manoela Bowles and here I’ll present to you a theme based on a thesis I wrote for a master course in art criticism in Barcelona. About art as emancipation, the power it has to change our way of seeing the world around us.
Art can be a great tool for that. Emancipation of past patterns of thought with no use, habits and ideals that won’t fit anymore. Here we will analyze the transformations that came to occur on human knowledge along history. And art will be our vessel on this trip bound to evolution.
The paper I developed was based on the work by Jean Gebser, “The Ever-Present Origin”.
Have you ever stopped to think that maybe our understanding of the world is what actually brings it to its own destruction? On this video series we will analyze the transformations on human knowledge along history and see how we came to be about today where we are heading to an apocalypse if we don’t change the way we think. For that we will have art as a medium to guide us, since it has been always an instrument used for it.
Art is a mirror of society, when we see artists denouncing the great tragedies of the world, like in the last São Paulo Bienal and Venezia Biennale this year. Bringing themes like ecology and the immigration crisis, for example. Also in Rio, a recently opened museum is dedicated specially to human awareness, The Museum of Tomorrow. All of them try to engage great audiences in order to provoke a transformation of our minds.
Art has always shown us the way. From cave paintings to the Renaissance, when it gave human knowledge a step up with the creation of the idea of perspective. , the idea of space opened up. Before the idea of perspective we saw things bi-dimensionally. Like in Egyptian paintings, a flat representation of the world, it shows the awareness of integration they had with the cosmos, unified with nature. Humanity followed this path of thought until the Roman frescoes opened to a third dimension. In their architecture as well, with the round ceilings which provoke a sensation of integration with the cosmos around. With Giotto the individual was included inside the room and the representation of architecture in perspective opened to the idea of three dimensionality.
This way of representing the world we see, through a mental system, lead us to understand things as abstractions of the natural world, taking it to a purely rational plane.
Bringing us even more distant from nature. And so we arrive today, where our way of thinking leads to our own destruction. If we acknowledge that then we will be able to change, and maybe we can be saved.
The invention of Reason brought a feeling of individuality, a being apart from nature. We abstract things to order and categorize according to the mental system we created, but this abstraction does not correspond to the natural order of things.
Art is also an abstraction, a representation we use to understand the world around us. Language, Science, all of them are codes to understand and create the world we live in.
Philosophy and History are conceptions we create, which don’t exist in the natural world. It seems obvious but many times we forget. Time and space, intrinsically bonded to our day to day, are also mental constructions. We use these references as they were the only way to live. We don’t realize these established patterns are not fixed. We don’t need to run against the clock. Following a rhythm imposed by an abstract system.
This creates an anxiety crisis because it doesn’t correspond to the natural rhythm of things. A crisis in our own human nature.
If we take a step back to analyze how we live our lives, we can see clearly all the patterns imposed by society, and we follow blindly.
If we leave these fixed concepts behind we will see that they are malleable and realize that the power is in our hands! If we unite in this comprehension we can make a better world. The more people believe in that thought, the stronger it gets.
Quantum Physics has shown us that the observer has the power to transform matter. A particle behaves differently when there is an observer. So with more observers the better the power of transformation will be.
The patterns of understanding we create are models for the way we act on the world. For example the laws of Physics intuited by Newton took ages to be proven they created a path, which now guides satellites to the most distant galaxies and discover black holes that were just a crazy hypothesis proven by a genius like Einstein.
Ancient Greece brought the rise of Reason. Gods then lost their power on the life of people with democracy, ethics and morality. Theories that made man responsible for having a good life. Until we arrive at the age of Enlightenment, where man reached total emancipation from the powers of the divine.
Descartes invented Dualism, which separated subject and matter, the object from the individual, as a way to give even more autonomy for man, against the things of the world.
Abstract art follows the same way, in the sense that it puts on the individual the power to determine its meaning. Fee from fixed meaning its where the object has total autonomy, it can be interpreted differently depending on the context it finds itself in. This understanding is a liberation, it takes us to think that much depends on where its at, that is, everything is relative. Like in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, where time depends on forces like acceleration and that depends on matter. That is, everything is relative, connected, depends on each other to exist. And so we understand that our way of seeing things its just one way. Everything depends on the context.
Are you ready to go further down the Rabbit Hole?
Modern times are times of great anxiety. Wars show us something went wrong along the way. Something is wrong with our way of relating with each other and the world around us. The perception that our kind of thinking lead to more wars and destruction, and the notion that everything is relative, brought a dissolution of every possible pre-established way of knowing art since then.
Dada and Cubism aimed to dissolve everything to create a new comprehension and understanding of the world. Realism had been a tool to teach man to see the world. It became to be known as the only way of seeing reality, when its actually just one way of seeing. But it became an identification of man with reality around him. Man saw himself on this vast landscape, alone, longing for something, but what?
We should analyze all the ways we have of understanding the world to see that we have to go back to where we had a closer relation to nature. The path to evolution we have been following has taken us further apart from the world around us.