Symbols and performance



An article I wrote when pre-producing and refining the concept used for the project: Tapestry of Life.

People have always tried to define themselves and create meaningful symbols to represent, individualise and communicate their belief or stories.  The scientist Colin Cherry has written, “all communication proceeds by means of signs, with which one organism affects the behaviour (or state) of an-other” . Thus even the basic clothes we wear talk to other members of our species and presents them our conception of beauty or our own unique style.

Evolution has not changed our search for identity, but  increased our lust for meaning and individual assessment. “Tools, from the simplest hand implements to the most sophisticated computers, are extensions of man’s attempt to shape his environment. And in the same sense, symbols too are human extensions.” notices Cherry.

When I think of Burroughs and the beat generation  words like  spontaneous, explicit, random, remarkable come to mind. Burroughs stated that “The invitation is – come out of matter into space, out of language into silence.” The invitation, in my opinion, is to push boundaries, mix and explore senses and meanings.  Daniel Punday (2007) quoted in “Word Dust: William Burroughs’s Multimedia Aesthetic”  Celeste Olalquiaga who noted that  “the dreams of modernity that have lost their romantic dimension with the dust that accumulates on forgotten objects, establishing an anthology between what he calls the extinct world of things (things infused with aura, of course) and the when-out condition of dreams: both are now in the realm of the banal, that is, of kitsch”.

What keeps some objects or symbols out of the kitsch sphere and keeps them with glad heart into our lives and memories?

How can I explain the value of patterns as romantic and  aural symbols and still make them appealing to your audiences?

These are some questions I tried to answer through the project entitled: Tapestry of Life or The Pattern Project.

In “The Garden of Forking Paths”, Jorge Luis Borges (1941)  beautify pronounced the sentence of urgency “Centuries of centuries and only in the present do things happen” which led me to think about the possibility of bringing into modern context something from the past and how should it be presented in a captivating way. Thankfully I found other quotes from his work that led me to believe nothing really disappears from a culture, but just disperses and needs to be revived in our conscious to really grasp its importance. “I thought of a labyrinth of labyrinths, of one sinuous spreading labyrinth that would encompass the past and the future and in some way involve the stars (…) I imagined as well a Platonic. hereditary work. transmitted from father to son, in which each new individual adds a chapter or corrects with pious care the pages of his elders.”

In the article “Is There Love in the Telematic Embrace?” by  Roy Ascott I was faced with another conundrum. Are the methods I am thinking of using the best to portray the lesson I would like to transmit to my audience? “This sunrise of uncertainty, of a joyous dance of meaning between layers of genre and metaphoric systems, this unfolding tissue woven of a multiplicity of visual codes and cultural imaginations was also the initial promise of the postmodern project before it disappeared into the domain of social theory, leaving only its frail corpus of pessimism and despair.” Accepting this as food for thought and also the uncertainty that follows the questions of methodology gave me the push to step towards a real experimental area of thinking and eventually producing multimedia projects.

Walter Benjamin in “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” talks among other things about  authenticity. He underlines that the core of anything worth transmitting , regardless of the period in history or circumstances, must be authentic.  He states that “Since the historical testimony rests on the authenticity, the former, too, is jeopardised by reproduction when substantive duration ceases to matter. And what is really jeopardised when the historical testimony is affected is the authority of the object.” which really comes into play with the idea of repetition and influences between patterns from different parts of the world and times in history.  The re-inventing and rebirth of old fashion patterns stands for sheltering tradition and also for a renewal of mankind but keeping a watchful eyes on the past.

I believe that permanence  is also a  value in the ritual and contextual integration of old tradition into new culture, and thus the material value and necessity perspective that patterns have in the textile, ceramic and other industries  will forever remain as part of our heritage and our futures. This is why we need to remember them and acknowledge their role in our cultures.

Tapestry of Life

Look into it