Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Roland Barthes

I departed from the deconstructionism in text, and how the reader became the author of a text and the changing power relations in the modern society with the modification of the author-function that Foucault talks about in his “What is an Author” writing.

Here is a short excerpt from my paper on the subject;

“What does it matter who is speaking, what does it matter who is speaking? As the catharsis of the tragedies suffered a change through time and space, the identity of the stage and the interplay evolved into a new form of space and dialogue; leading the audience turn into a tele-reader of the stage and the critique of the heavy sentiment it has been creating for years. The challenge was signed and examined by two nonlocal and eccentric playwrights, the Irish avant-garde dramatist Samuel Barclay Beckett and the German theatre practitioner Bertolt Brecht, giving rise to a mid-20th century idea of an “epic theater” with the disentangling of the pre-designated melodrama of a traditional activity of pure watching. Absorbing the audience, the play came to be talking to the audience, keeping them aware that they are watching a play by the trial of a distancing effect, alienation, or in Brechtian language Verfremdungseffekt. “Distancing is not destruction, it is an opening up: a rethinking of place.”(Benjamin, A., Deconstruction, p.85) Not a great success though, the method rendered the audience or -reading the stage as a text, what Roland Barthes would do- rendered the reader to be focused on the text itself, rather than the ontology of the writer nor the actor. Author was nodded to be the creator and the executioner of the writing, and the subject of criticism of the reasonable traditional Western was the author-figure itself until then Mallarmé, for the first time in flesh, restored the place of the reader within the text, from a passive regression to an active transgression. The criticism began at the crash of the writings and the reader space, every voice was destructed, the author entered into his own death, writing began. (Barthes, R., Death of the Author)”

… and in the further analysis of the concept, the power relations I’ve mentioned above, I referred to the Czech director’s short movie Dimensions of Dialogue, below. All of Svankmajer’s movies are worth watching, if you haven’t yet, now’ll be a good startpoint.

Ancient days were when the world was too big of a place for homo sapiens. Their relatively stronger minds and physical abilities have triggered them to create —predictably human species-made— geoglyphs greater in magnitude. Their animistic worldview connotes that they have devoted a soul for any co-existing species. They all are considered as a part of nature; not superior to, neither separate from it. Their loyalty on their agriculture and their gods is the nurture of their beliefs, and their beliefs are of their art.
The gigantic exercise on nature in Nazca’s is theorized as a consequence of the shaman’s hallucinative exercises inwhich they enter such state to worship their Gods for the growth and fertility. In order to have them see the images, they should have been horizontal and enormous.

|figures: (all stylized) hummingbird, spider, monkey, lizard, fish, orca, llama

|more geometrical shapes

|figurative spider

Nazca’s  predicted methodology in performing these figurative and mostly geometrical images is by the removing of the reddish pebble stones on earth and revealing the ground in lighter color beneath. It is stated that some of these figures cover a 200×200 (in meters) area, which requires a good sense of linear perspective when there’s a lack of aerial perspective. One strong prediction by the Swiss writer Erich von Däniken states that the figures are drawn by ancient astronauts for communication purposes and the more broad and long pieces of the figures were for landing their vehicles.

|the hummingbird has a considerably long beak

Not as charming and mysterious as the Nazca lines, the geoglyphs reminded me of some contemporary and inanonymous landscape designs and designers. Although there are some common touchpoints, today’s state of mind has the advantage of at least a chance of using aerial supervision to achieve the perfection of figures. If perfection is not a necessity, at least the documentation of the works are mostly done by birdview. Nazca people may never have had the chance to see what they have actually inherited on Peru territory dedicated to their beloved Gods.

Below is the open air performance of two Japanese guys in Berlin, Mai Yamashita & Naoto Kobayashi, called the Infinity Run. It took 15-18 hrs for them to finalize their infinity sign. The geoglyphs is predicted to take days, or even weeks to be completed.

The scale of the Infinity Run performance is much more humanist compared to those of the geoglyphs. Once again, they were made to worship the gods. The contemporary statement in art seems to have been shifted far away from the ancient theological scale, just as the physical scale shifted from god to human.

Hubert Blanz, a digital photographer and digital media artist has a typological work of highway photography under the name Roadshow. There are helixes of highways in his photographic work, forming chaotic, organic at the same time monstrous shapes.

In his digital city designs, the birdview images have a resemblance to alligator and lizard-like reptiles. Though I think that there’s a strong influence of the geoglyphs in content, still the work is not to worship gods in the new age.

Semiotics, as a significant argument in arts&design and any other visual-audial existences since Roland Barthes, is the study of sign processes and subjects the relation between signs and the things to which they refer to and their effects on people who are using those signs. The ancient signage process was through figurative images or body part prints on any writable surface, mostly rocks and stone. The cro-magnons communicated through the stains of animal figures and their handprints on the cave walls since they were hunting and gathering, whereas today people communicate through formed structures called words and a more cummulative and communalized form of it called ‘language’ for resolving and revealing thought.

A mixed media artist, Nicole Dextras, has a bunch of outdoor installations on land, what he calls the “Palimpsest” done by his devotion to words and ancient history of signage. He leads the voyeur to read the landscape, thus read the history through the landscape and his so-called “ghost words” as ice installations.

“Palimpsest is a new series of photographs documenting outdoor installations created during the cold months of the Canadian winter. The images are arranged as diptychs, presenting macro and micro views of ice, suggesting the transformative element of this fugitive medium.
Palimpsest refers to the ancient practice of erasing and writing over parchment, so that the previous text appears as a ghost on the page. The word also alludes to the act of deciphering traces of time and is therefore an apt analogy for the process of photographing the ephemeral nature of ice.”

Most earthwork artists like Robert Smithson, architect of the huge coast circles, and Alexander Heilner, the photographer of constarined aerial landscapes in Utah reveal a strong influence of the ancient geoglyphs in their works of different mediums. Smithson’s addiction in perfect geometrical shapes with the method of carrying and moving land directs our minds to those of Nazca’s. Yet another considerable point of the Nazca earthwork is that the climate and geography has been pre-observed so that the figures would be durable- the climate was stable just like they probably thought.

Althought the works were accepted as a fatal mystery by many, observation and experiment have been helping people a lot throughout the history. One artist I’ve recently met on the online platform, Theo Jansen, had the most amazing kinetic sculpture, moving with the wind energy and built accordingly. There’s no use of any sensors or electronic mechanism to make the sculpture robotic rather than kinetic. The work is called Strandbeest(beach animal), has a statement of creating new forms of life with the utilization of natural events.

After watching the video and see how the handmade skeleton moves, I believe that every aspect of human history has a logical explanation. Or else, mystery has been hiding itself for the past 4000 years.