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matthew hulse – week 3

streams of everyday consciousness pt. 2 –

This part of the inspirational didn’t leave as big of an impression as the previous one did; hence the much reduced output of content during the session. I found this second part to be more like a re-contextualisation of everyday things, like cooking utensils, drinking water; but also the things we don’t notice with the naked eye, like dualities or symmetry and asymmetry in things that are not observable. Such things could be spiritual, authority based, design of things on the Earth.

One work that stood out to me due to its grandiosity yet simplicity was Fischli & Weiss’ Suddenly This Overview. The body of work that began in 1952 offers a casual… overview of everyday life and our perception of it. This large body of work is housed in the Guggenheim and is made up of sculptures, videos and installations, all focusing on “understanding reality and inviting a state of wonder. Unfired clay was used for their sculptures because it was unglamorous and unused in fine art. The artists referred to their sculptures as a ‘subjective encyclopaedia’ that feature mythical scenes such as the parting of the Red Sea and more trivial moments like waiting for an elevator. All the sculptures feature a punchline in their title. These sculptures challenged the viewers to rethink their thoughts about everyday life and their misconceptions about it. This body of work caught my eye due its scale and its ostensible lightheartedness.

Another work that I found interesting was Marina Abramović’s How to Drink a Glass of Water. It is a short clip in which she explains to the viewers how to drink a glass of water, going through every step individually like a tutorial. I took particular interest in this video as it made me feel uncomfortable when asked to re-explore the sensation and actions of drinking water as if for the first time. I essentially had to enter a state of forced defamiliarisation, in which I ended up biting my paper cup which held the water. In this state the water in my mind didn’t feel like water, and after the first sip I did not want anymore because it was so bizarre to me.

– forward with my IP –
my progress after parting with my previous idea.

The idea behind this character who is essentially addicted or dependent on time-skipping/time travel is something I have encountered before in JJ Abrams’ Sci-Fi TV series Fringe. It is about an FBI agent who is recruited in the ‘Fringe’ division, where she investigates bizarre science-related crimes. Throughout the show there is one character shrouded in mystery and intrigue, he is known to the viewers as ‘the Observer.’ This individual has controlled movements, an almost robotic posture, and only shows up during significant historical events where disaster is imminent.

Another inspiration I have come across recently is Ursula Lethe Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas. In this short story Le Guin depicts the bustling society of the fictional city of Omelas, during the Festival of Summer. This story falls under the genre of speculative fiction, which explores possibility and impossibility. It is an encompassing genre that lends itself to sub-genres like science fiction, fantasy and horror. Throughout the story, the reader is called to engage their imagination to create an image of certain aspects of Omelas.

“Omelas sounds in my words like a city in a fairy tale, long ago and far away, once upon a time. Perhaps
it would be best if you imagined it as your own fancy bids, assuming it will rise to the occasion,
for certainly I cannot suit you all. For instance, how about technology? I think that there would be
no cars or helicopters in and above the streets; this follows from the fact that the people of
Omelas are happy people. Happiness is based on a just discrimination of what is necessary,
what is neither necessary nor destructive, and what is destructive. In the middle category,
however–that of the unnecessary but undestructive, that of comfort, luxury, exuberance, etc.–
they could perfectly well have central heating, subway trains, washing machines, and all kinds of
marvelous devices not yet invented here, floating light-sources, fuelless power, a cure for the
common cold. Or they could have none of that: it doesn’t matter. As you like it.”

This type of asynchronous interaction between reader and author is fascinating, as Le Guin clearly addresses the reader and even lets them decide upon aspects of the story, while still having a firm grasp of key aspects of her world. The things Le Guin asks her readers to consider are of no true importance in comparison to the elements that she is in control of. Modes of transportation, renewable energy, cures to common illnesses… none of that matters as much as what is revealed later. A malnourished child, alone in a dark room, covered in its own faeces, almost uncivilised, regularly beaten, and gazed upon by all the civilians. It is because of this one child’s misfortune, misery and suffering that all who live in Omelas can be happy; and all who live there must at some point learn of this. Some choose to ignore it in order to continue being happy, whilst others walk away…

“At times one of the adolescent girls or boys who go see the child does not go home to weep or
rage, does not, in fact, go home at all. Sometimes also a man or a woman much older falls silent
for a day or two, then leaves home. These people go out into the street, and walk down the
street alone. They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the
beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farmlands of Omelas. Each one goes alone, youth
or girl, man or woman.
Night falls; the traveler must pass down village streets, between the houses with yellow- lit
windows, and on out into the darkness of the fields. Each alone, they go west or north, towards
the mountains. They go on. They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they
do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than
the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem
to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.”

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