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9. Meaning: Metaphoric Understanding


Image: Ai Weiwei, Bang, 2013


Slide 1: Consider Ai Weiwei's installation, Bang; It employs 886-three-legged wooden stools made by traditional craftsmen (whose expertise is today rare to find), which are installed in a rhizomatic structure that we can find meaningfully only if we engage this as a metaphorical event. 

Slide 2: One of the first books printed after the invention of 'moveable type' was the Nuremberg Chronicles (1493), which shows God creating the world out of a Void; a void that existed before God created the universe.

Slide 3: Once the cosmos, (order) replaced the the void (disorder as nothing, which would be inherently evil), it was thought that it would be dangerous to create it.

Slide 4: Giulio Romano, 1517-18, after a painting by Raphael (that no longer exists), God is depicted energetically parting chaos (disorder/nothing) to make a space in which to create the universe.

Slide 5: Two devices invented in the 16th Century, the barometer and the air pump, appeared to create a vacuum or a void, which was not only thought to be impossible, it would be terrifying to  because a void would unleash all sorts of evil.

Slide 6: How the Barometer works.

Slide 7: The air pump.

Slide 8: Magdeburg Two Hemispheres experiment was conducted in 1654.

Slide 9: Joseph Wright of Derby, An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, 1768, depicting the demonstration in such a way as to define gender roles and topes that will endure.

Slide 10: The Mad Scientist trope.

Slide 11: Evidence if stereotype gender inequities around science are made visible with the emotional "subjective" knowledge of the women seen in the context of the tough objective knowledge of men.

Slide 12: Robert Fludd, The Infinite Void, 1617

Slide 13: Jacques-Louis David, Death of Marat, 1793.

Slide 14: Tristam Shandy, 1759, “Alas, poor YORICK!” The black page in Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman, which first appeared in 1759, a confrontation with death. 

Slide 15: Goya's Black Painting of a dog with a void suspended above.

Slide 16: Goya, Unfortunate Events, number 21 in his bullfight series (1815-18). At first, the composition seems off-balance with all the action on one side, however, the void associated with the young boy, who seems transfixed by death now takes on a new intensity that seems to balance the action side. Are these not the two forms of chaos: (1) the chaos of emptiness and (2) the chaos of complete disorder.

Slide 17: Kazimir Malevich painted four versions of the Black Square (1917), which was first shown placed in the upper corner of the gallery, the place where an Icon would be placed in a Russian home. It was an attempt to say that abstract art does not have to depict anything.

Slide 18: Silence. John Cage's score, 3' 44" piano work in two movements was first performed in 1952. 

Slide 19: The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the biggest operational vacuum system in the world, and yet there are activities in such a vacuum, things pop in and out of existence.


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