Animism

From my 2008 thesis paper:

An animistic approach to space and substance is defined, according to Graham Harvey, by the extension of personhood to “other-than-human” entities, including animals, plants, rocks, weather systems, places, and “artefacts” (objects made by humans). Harvey quotes Viveiros de Castro: “Personhood and ‘perspectivity’—the capacity to occupy a point of view—is a question of degree and context, rather than an absolute, diacritical property of a particular species.”

I understand the term “personhood” as referring to entities that exhibit social behavior, defined by receptivity and responsiveness. A water supply can certainly be considered as such. This idea—that objects and places have responsive characters—resonates with the use of found materials. Furthermore, if this idea is taken seriously, it follows that one should treat places and things as one would persons: with respect.

For more on Animism, check out Harvey’s great book on the subject.

 

And a few excerpts from his rambling Animist Manifesto:

.

The world is full of persons (people if you prefer), but few of them are human

The world is full of other-than-human persons

The world is full of other-than-oak persons

The world is full of other-than-hedgehog persons

The world is full of other-than-salmon persons

The world is full of other-than-kingfisher persons

The world is full of other-than-rock persons…

.

Respect means being cautious and constructive

It is cautiously approaching others — and our own wishes,

It is constructing relationships, constructing opportunities to talk, to relate, to listen, to spend time in the face-to-face presence and company of others

It is taking care of, caring for, caring about, being careful about…

It can be shown by leaving alone and by giving gifts

.

Hugging trees that you don’t know may be rude – try introducing yourself first

Birds Eye

“I wonder what is the source of this pleasure of ‘seeing the whole,’ of looking down on, totalizing the most immoderate of human texts.


“To be lifted to the summit of the World Trade Center is to be lifted out of the city’s grasp. One’s body is no longer clasped by the streets that turn and return it according to an anonymous law; nor is it possessed, whether as player or played, by the rumble of so many differences and by the nervousness of New York traffic.

“When one goes up there, he leaves behind the mass that carries off and mixes up in itself any identity of authors or spectators. An Icarus flying above these waters, he can ignore the devices of Daedalus in mobile and endless labyrinths far below.

“His elevation transfigures him into a voyeur. It puts him at a distance.

“It transforms the bewitching world by which one was ‘possessed’ into a text that lies before one’s eyes.

“It allows one to read it, to be a solar Eye, looking down like a god.

“The exaltation of a scopic and gnostic drive: the fiction of knowledge is related to this lust to be a viewpoint and nothing more.

“Must one finally fall back into the dark space where crowds move back and forth, crowds that, though visible from on high, are themselves unable to see down below?”

.

.
– Michele de Certeau, Walking In the City

Image sources:
1. Me – Last month – Jersey City from my studio window
2. Portrait of Margaret Bourke White, 1934, by Oscar Graubner (via What Every Girl Should Know)
3.. Still from the movie The Secret Of Kells
4. This Is Naive – Poscards From Singapore
5. Kathy~ (via Siege Fenetre)
6. Me – detail of Field Studies
7. Christie MacLean (via Siege Fenetre)
8. Me – Vrindavan, India – 2008

Hogarth’s “Satire On False Perspective”

This engraving from 1754 by William Hogarth contains numerous “errors” in perspective. Can you find all 17 listed on Wikipedia? This would be a great assignment for a 2D or drawing class: asking students to make their own.

.

P.S.  I’m excited to have some photographs for sale at A.I.R. Gallery‘s booth at the Affordable Art Fair this week — mostly documentation of public projects from India.

Details

.

.

I’m currently drafting my press release for the AIR show in June…. Here’s what I have so far for the paragraph about these collages:

For the last few months, Percoco has been cutting out images of trees from greater-New York area phone book ads. She has assembled them into landscape collages. These forested vistas can be seen as subliminal natural landscapes of New York. That the phone books themselves are made from trees unites image with substance, or representation with presentation. Although the graphic style of the trees runs the gamut from color photographs to black and white cartoons, the collages are unified by a consistent horizon and a sense of depth. She uses a shifting perspective to describe the changing viewpoint we experience while moving through a landscape.

Shifting Perspective

Maxwell Hearn walks us through an ancient Chinese scroll landscape painting in this New York Times video.

.

.

.“Different from Western paintings, a Chinese painting is not restricted by the focal point in its perspective. The artist may paint on a long and narrow piece of paper or silk all the scenes along the Yangtse River…Why do the Chinese artists emphasize the shifting perspective? They want to break away from the restrictions of time and space and to include in their pictures both things which are far and things which are near. Also, the artists find that in life people view their surroundings from a mobile focal point. As one walks along a river or in a garden, one sees everything on the way.” (This passage is reproduced all over the web without citation…but it’s a good description, so here it is.)

In the landscape collages I’m working on, I am also using shifting perspective. Actually, when you think about it, it’s impossible to make a collage that doesn’t shift in perspective, since each piece of it was photographed or rendered in a different time and space. But I love the idea that the use of a “mobile focal point” more closely describes our actual experience of moving through a landscape, just as Hearn says the viewer is meant to “walk” through the painting.

Here’s an extreme example of shifting perspective in a hand drawn map I surreptitiously photographed at the wondrous Museum of Indology in Jaipur, India. The artist was attempting a birds-eye view from the very center of the compound, which resulted in some buildings being depicted upside-down!