Looking back 1920s-30s

On June 16, 2006, Posted by , In Blog, With No Comments

Even though this week went by too quickly, I was busy working on some projects that need lots of attention. The Art Database that is slowly appearing on the main site takes lots of time to put together. The form the public uses to upload images and information had to be changed twice. Actually, that’s two different forms that needed to be changed twice. Anyway, the mind is still working on local articles that I have not had time to work on: Highwaymen (Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale), Edouard Duval-Carri√© (Bernice Steinbaum Gallery), Tomas Esson & Yamel Molerio (Alonso Art Gallery), Luisa Mesa (Diaspora Vibe Gallery), and the show at Dorsch Gallery. Like I’ve said, I want to do more writing than is realistically possible since I am currently unemployed and need to hustle up work. The web development is coming along just fine with several significant proposals on the table.

Untested myself, I’ve often wondered about my relationship to music since I identify a musician as the creative person I most wanted to emulate, even with that person is still living and very close to my own age. Who is it? Herbie Hancock.

Russian-born artist Wassily Kandinsky is widely credited with making the world’s first truly abstract paintings, but his artistic ambition went even further. He wanted to evoke sound through sight and create the painterly equivalent of a symphony that would stimulate not just the eyes but the ears as well.

Kandinsky is believed to have had synaesthesia, a harmless condition that allows a person to appreciate sounds, colours or words with two or more senses simultaneously. In his case, colours and painted marks triggered particular sounds or musical notes and vice versa. The involuntary ability to hear colour, see music or even taste words results from an accidental cross-wiring in the brain that is found in one in 2,000 people, and in many more women than men.

Sceptics have dismissed synaesthesia as nothing more than subjective invention, like a bad case of metaphor affliction – after all, anyone can feel blue, see red, eat a sharp cheese or wear a loud tie. Recently, however, a group of neuroscientists has been able to prove that synaesthetes do indeed “see” sound. A series of brain scans showed that, despite being blindfolded, synaesthetes showed “visual activity” in the brain when listening to sounds. Now all that is left is to find the gene that may be responsible. Link: London Telegraph

I’ll admit to having smoked pot and hashish back in the late 60s. I gave it up because it wasn’t a party activity for me but a process of creativity where much exploration took place, either self- or in my environment. Just in case you wanted to know, I gave it up in the 70s, early 70s. (I certainly hope my creativity didn’t stop then, too, not that I’m worried that it did.)

In 1927, persuaded by some doctor friends to take part in their research, [Walter] Benjamin began to dabble in a range of drugs-opium, hashish, mescaline-and recorded his experiences in a series of fragments and “protocols”: observations in Benjamin’s hand alternating with the musings of his medical pals.

Benjamin can be perversely elusive-sometimes you wonder if you need to be on drugs to get him-but he hoped to show that certain habits of mind lent themselves to the pursuit of profane illumination. “The reader, the thinker, the loiterer, the flaneur, are types of illuminati just as much as the opium eater, the dreamer, the ecstatic.” The flaneur in particular-the urban nomad who wanders from place to place, collecting images “wherever they lodge”-was a key figure for Benjamin, a phenomenological detective, always peeking around the corner into the shadows, trying to summon the spirits of a place and break through the clutter and bric-a-brac of modern life.

Hashish, Benjamin believed, gave its user a similar kind of perception-a sort of X-ray vision providing access to the inner workings of time and space, culture and history. Link: Boston Globe

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