Earth water fire and air
Met together in a garden fair
Put in a basket bound with skin
If you answer this riddle
You’ll never begin
“Koeeoaddi There” Williamson 1968
It is not possible to know someone totally. We do not have the lived experience of each other.
This project seeks to embody aspects of a personality into solid forms so that personality may be understood in a different manner.
Incorporating philosophy, folklore, psychology and poetry, emotions are mapped to cardinal directions. The objects are created through ritualistic drawing, slicing, joining and contemplative practice.
Each element manifests the emotion it was created from by using data relevant to that aspect of personality.
This is the start of research into a language of objects who’s shape is informed by information. I am interested in the possibility of a universal language of forms that works across different cultures and ages irrespective of hearing or seeing abilities.
The aim of this project is to create ceramic forms from data relating to different emotions.
Immediate data sources have come from popular culture, tracking devices and by recording movements.
Placement and dominant themes of the forms is through a combination of the emotional quadrant, folklore, philosophical theories, cardinal directions and the elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Air.
The catalyst for this work was lyrics from a song.
The emotional quadrant charts the dynamics of energy on a sliding scale in two directions – positive/negative effect and high/low energy. The system was devised by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz as a productivity method focusing on managing energy levels rather than time.
Within folklore, emotional qualities are attributed to directions, seasons, life stages and elements. In the 15th century, playing cards became the tarot, where each suit has a character that relates back to the cardinal directions and elements.
Ancient Greek physicist Hippocrates defined four humours that were to eventually evolve into holistic modern medicine. A few centuries later Galen redefined these as temperaments. The idea in both cases was that balance should be sought between the 4 and any imbalance caused illness. Contemporary Educational Psychologist David Keirsey uses a test to establish people’s temperament as an aid to productivity and self awareness. This project incorporates many theories from Aristotle onwards where philosophers and psychologists have been attempting to categorise human personality into tidy boxes.
Tunes, lyrics, poems and quotes get stuck in my head. I recorded and documented them for a few months and discovered they come in sets of three or four. They rotate around until one is replaced by something else. They sometimes follow themes but more often are seemingly random. A riff from one tune will link to another, a vocal phrase will lead me to a quote from a poem. Rarely the whole set will be wiped by a new batch. Even rarer is time without internal music.
My coping strategy is to work with them and treat them as an instruction manual for life. I walk and work to their beat and find them more manageable if I do so.
This project has come from ear worms that are a selection of psychedelic folk songs mostly from The Incredible String Band in the late 1960’s. This is music I’ve been brought up with. I have no critical capacity to judge it because it has always been there. It is music that is very important to me. It forms part of the soundtrack to my life.
In a two dimensional world, a sphere would look like a circle. String theory suggests that the universe operates with 10 dimensions, 9 of space and one of time. We live comfortably with 3 spacial dimensions and one time dimension. If the other dimensions exist, we cannot see them, feel them, smell them or otherwise normally identify them without quantum mathematics.
Throughout time, philosophers have tried to define the hidden dimensions of our life. Wittgenstein’s fact filled world held no value, anything meaningful must reside out of the world, becoming unspeakable and unmentionable.
Heidegger noted that objects withdraw their reality from humans.
Kant’s Noumenon exists independently of human sense and perception. We know it exists but we cannot access the thing-in-itself.
Harman discusses a withheld element to objects and classifies everything as an object. Spinoza controversially stated that everything was God.
Contemporary philosophical theories see a flat ontology where things/objects exist without hierarchy. Humans are not the most important things. In this flat ontology objects exist independently of human senses and they are secretive.
It is clearly not possible to access the withheld objects in life. If we could sense them, they would no longer be withheld and the quest would be voided.
It may be possible to use the idea of withheld objects in order to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Crossing disciplines and mixing sources of data can become a method of translating things generally understood by one sense, into a thing that can be understood by a different sense and it may allow us a glimpse of the withheld without it actually revealing itself to us.