Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Art as a Clue of Perception

In his book ¨The Hidden Dimension¨, Edward T. Hall says that the art of other cultures, different from ours, reveals a great deal about the conceptual world of this culture. (p. 79). He cites the anthropologist Edmund Carpenter, who in 1959 published the great book ¨Eskimo¨ with the collaboration of the artist Frederick Varley and the photographer Robert Flaherty. Much of this book is dedicated to Eskimo art.
Hall emphasizes the fact that the great difference, compared to our world, is that they have no middle distances, no perspectives, nothing the eye can cling along the ground, sometimes there is no horizon in the Artic, so Eskimos develop their sense of orientation in space.
And Carpenter says:
¨When I travel by car, I can, with relative ease, pass through a complex and chaotic city –Detroit, for example- by simply following a handful of highway markers. I begin with the assumption that the streets are laid out in a grid and the knowledge that certain signs mark my route. Apparently, the Alvilik have similar, though natural, reference points. By and large, these are not actual objects or points, but relationships; relationships between, say, contour, type of snow, wind, salt air, ice crack.¨
¨Eskimos integrate time and space as one thing and live in acoustic-olfatory space, rather than visual space¨, says Hall. And he adds:
¨Furthermore, representations of their visual world are like X rays. Their artists put in everything they know is there whether they can see it or not. A drawing or engraving of a man hunting seal on an ice floe will show not only what is on top of the ice (the hunter and his dogs) but what is underneath as well (the seal approaching his breathing hole to fill his lungs with air¨.

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