[decay] see Lyotard p172
[incredulity] Hutcheon (p39) ascribes the phrase "incredulity to metanarratives" to Lyotard.
[universality] see Hutcheon, p39
[outside] see p40. For Postmodernist analysis then, this compromise is a necessary one whether it is explicitly stated or not.
[multiplicity] see Vattimo, p7. Several years ago, before I had learnt of Postmodernist theory, I remember experiencing the swings into an ever increasing disorientation when I could find no recognized authority who could speak unchallenged on important social, political or cultural matters.
[oscillation] see Vattimo,p10. Oscillation here suggests a balance swinging without judgement between binaries - between opposites - a gray scale of inevitability and acceptability.
[chaos] If we are to accept both extremes of a binary then we must value darkness as well as light., falsity as well as truth and evil as well as good. How in fact, can we now label things as good and bad in the face of T-shirt slogans such as 'I used to be a good girl but now I've reformed'?
[guided] This direction I followed for I knew not then how to disobey.
[appropriation] But how can anyone have a 'culture' in a society with as many traditional cultures as ours? Blood and early childhood environment ties one to the culture of one's parents; but radio, television and now the Internet place one adrift in a veritable sea of images, symbols, philosophies and concerns that dilute that inheritance.
[identity] I was born in Newfoundland of then recently immigrated English parents into a society halfway between the Old World and the New. European sensibilities, history and culture are as much my inheritance as the ambition, geography and technology of North America.
[paths] Paths are the marks of passage - the traces of movement between two locations. They indicate connections and routes. I was and am repeatedly struck by trails beaten though the grass on university campuses. I used to wonder why the grounds keepers didn't move the 'official' paths to coincide with the new paths. Now I think these paths represent a postmodern defiance of authority and an expression of individual intent. How then do I interpret my own tendency to cut across the grass and yet, like the Red Indians of my youth, leave no trace of my silent passing? Richard Long though, walked back and forth many times along the same route until he had made a path through the wilderness. But wouldn't that be a false path - one that merely pretended to show a connection between two places?
[sight] M'Closky comments on the privileging of vision saying "classical aesthetics claimed that vision was superior to other senses because of its detachment from its objects" (p61). Romanyshyn extends this idea much further by suggesting that the scientific method follows directly from uninvolved vision and thus modern technological progress results from the development of perspective depiction which he feels made vision the primary sense. Hindsight [which is said to be always 20-20] would then be the supreme sense since it involves memory from all the senses with intellectual analysis thrown in for good measure.
[connections] It is interesting that the importance of connections at the macroscopic level is mirrored by the microscopic functioning of the brain. It is widely accepted that memory results from chemical changes in the synapses where interconnection between neurons (brain cells) occur. These changes facilitate the transmission of signals, effectively making paths of communication viable.
[learning] Both my parents are/were academics and taught in a university environment for years. Their fields are/were history and philosophy and so I studied science and in the end became a computer scientist. Throughout my career in software architecture [a holistic nomination intended to subsume analysis, design, implementation, maintenance and management] I have always been on the forefront of learning.
[creation] The trigger that brought me to art production [though I did not realize it at the time] was the vastly reduced job satisfaction I experienced after I had moved up the management ladder too high to do much software analysis and design. I needed a new way to create.
[analysis] During my early youth I collected stamps. This not only initiated my interest in world cultures, geography and history; it also helped me build many organizational and analytical skills. One interesting facet of this experience is that twice I totally reorganized the collection with new designs to deal with additional requirements and self-placed demands for craftsmanship.
[blind] See Edwards, p84-87. After reading this book and doing many of the exercises in it I understood much more about the intimate connections between software and artwork design. I also began to see explanations of why many programmer's hate to write documentation and why it is so very difficult to build programs that require large teams of people. My interest in design theory in both areas grew rapidly.
[two] Somehow when something gets divided into two or more parts tensions develop among those parts. Perhaps then, taxonomy is another name for Pandora's Box.
[experience] In some ways these programs are very closely related to hand-held tools as they are manipulated by keyboard, mouse and trackball and capable of saving much manual labour.
[coin] This coin, which was given to me when I was seven years old by my father's Oxford landlady, occasioned my first official contact with a museum. All she knew was that it had been dug up on the Polish battlefield and so my father and I took it to the British Museum for further identification. While we sat waiting for the man who had taken it to return, my thoughts scanned through various scenarios. It would be very rare and valuable and I would be forced to donate it. It would be worthless - beneath anyone's interest. The man returned. He scribbled Ptolemy's name and dates on a little brown envelope, placed the coin inside and handed it back. "It is very common" he indicated, "Not worth our interest." And I was left with a man-made object that had existed for two millennia. What a gulf existed between their interest and mine!
[sensation] Now after many years, I have access to all of that without even holding the coin - just as the mention of the word 'mustard' causes me to instantly re-experience all the sense memories that real mustard has given me. Such occurrences have caused me to examine closely how my own memory functions. I know that certain music almost always causes a wave of physical emotion to sweep over me; but I have no logical explanation for the phenomenon. When I explore the details of my memories of an object I have known the visual portion is a curious amalgam of many views of the object without however any of the discontinuities of a cubist painting. It is certainly not as if I am seeing it from one single point of view. Even if I have never touched the object I often have tactile memories that record its form, shape and surface. And sometimes there are other sense recorded in my memory as well. When I examine an object inside a sealed museum case in an attempt to see how these false sense memories arise I realize they are not completely false. I am translating what I see of the object and what I am told about the object back into a full sense memory of it. This suggests why attempts by curators to display the object in a more culturally appropriate setting sometimes make the object seem less rather than more real and memorable. Their setting is interfering with what I am mentally constructing. This complete sense memory is what I remember - often past the point where I can remember whether I actually touched it or not. This all feels very similar to the many dreams I had as a child where I would prepare for and write a test that was in reality still a day or so off. Even after I woke up I would think (unless I carefully analyzed the feeling) that the test was over and done with. Only when I was forced to examine that memory by the presence of the actual test before me, would I realize that my memory was from a dream. Perhaps when I create I should be aiming at constructing the memory of the artwork and considering the artwork itself as merely a means to that end.
[history] Ceramic objects help tell the tale of humanity from a time before historical records. The use of ceramic shards to date the chronological and geographical spread of cultures can scarcely be overestimated. Pots, vessels and other ceramic objects have shared our daily lives, our religious rituals and our graves for many millennia.
[archaeology] During the summer of 1996 I took a course in the Archaeology of Ancient Civilizations. I expected the intent of the course to focus on these ancient civilizations and the circumstances of their appearance. If I'd thought a bit more beforehand I should have expected that we would explore the theories that have been proposed to explain why such civilizations occurred. But what took me totally by surprise was the self-analytical review of the practices and goals of archaeology. Further reading showed me clearly that the same postmodern jitters have affected life under the metanarratives of History and Geography as well.
[how] As I look back with hindsight, none of this is too surprising. The work on fractals comes directly from my background in mathematics and computer science; but the relatively recent scientific interest in chaos theory and the discovery of fractals is actually another aspect of postmodern reflexive analysis. The mask was an attempt to explore the primitive roots of a descendent of European civilization using a design based upon a very old mask from Graubunden, Switzerland. The collage novelette was one of several I made based upon the ideas developed by Max Ernst in his collage novels, such as La Femme 100 Tetes. Both of us have used illustrations culled from other works and built up our own elusive narratives that subvert the originals without enforcing another view. The work on Postmodernism reuses the traditional methods of landscape painting and Japanese poetry writing to express in fragmented form some of the ideas I have on this topic. All of these projects reflect back upon and reanalyze the intellectual past. Since the museum is perhaps the most obvious and conservative bastion of human history it seems an appropriate focus for my continued explorations.
[inscribe] See Hutcheon, p40
[wish] My current project involves the juxtaposition of a group of museum artifacts and a sacred space. The concept involves the creation of objects for a spiritual ritual relating to a remembrance of the dead. These objects will initially be installed in locked museum cases at some small distance from the gallery where the installation will take place. They will be labelled as restored, recreated, resurrected or remade. The centrepiece of the group will be a box intricately carved with gnarled vines that twist and writhe and create the box by their intertwining. Hidden within the carving is a Latin quotation about death. The attention to detail reminds one of the hours of devoted attention given by a mediaeval artisans to the creation of religious icons. The effect of this box is one of arrested organic growth - again, a reference to death. Yet another connection is to the subject of connections and paths. All the objects will participate in the construction of a crypt-like space within the gallery or as part of the rite I intend to perform at the opening.
To the tolling of a solemn bell I will enter, garbed in monkish robes, pushing a black palled bier and carrying a ring of keys. I will unlock the cases, remove the objects and install them in prepared places in the darkened gallery/crypt to the muffled strains of Gregorian chant. A short formal service involving the lighting of candles and incense and the speaking of a few ritual words and phrases will ensue. Then the participants will each receive a small bowl of food spooned out from a large communal cooking pot. The service will end with the careful cleansing of the bowls and their replacement in the museum cases. I will disappear from the scene. The other remnants of the ritual will be left untouched in the gallery for the duration of the installation.
[museums] Before I was a teenager I had made many visits to a major provincial museum in St. John's, Newfoundland that was just down the street from my elementary school. One exhibit that affected me greatly was a red ochre burial in a glass case - it was an adult skeleton partially encased in birch bark covered throughout with crumbling red earth that had stained everything else deep red as well. Here in Alberta there used to be an old dinosaur museum in downtown Drumheller. The old cases contained many specimens that were labelled by little yellowed cards that must have been typed with a ancient typewriter a little out of alignment. Through it all the excitement of amateur and professional in the bone-collecting business shone out powerfully. It was so very easy to get caught up in that enthusiasm oneself. More recently I visited the Oceanographic Museum in the Principality of Monaco. Half of this museum was given over to vast collections of shells and skeletons of various sea creatures. Most were labelled in a spidery scientific hand from early in this century. The specimens were collected on this or that Royal Oceanographic survey commanded by his Royal Highness the Prince of Monaco. It seemed just out of the pages of Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
[no new] A comment I first heard from Mr. (Wilfred E.) Pluard, an English teacher and font of wisdom [by his own admission], who bedevilled my high-school career in the late 60s with methods of satire, denigration and personal attack that would be considered barbarous in today's educational environment where the delicacy of the juvenile psyche is considered paramount; but from whom I learnt a great amount.