Category Archives: viewing: experience

Catherine’s Journey – What you see and what you get

A graphic of the Anglo building in Dublin, famous for being a disasterous construction project

In the late 18th Century, Russian ruler Catherine the Great chose to visit the villages of her country to see how the peasants were living. Her first minister, Potemkin, arranged to have façades of fake villages filled with actors constructed along Catherine’s route that showed a scenic, peaceful and prosperous country. Actors played the parts of the peasants, and Catherine remained in the confines of her carriage as she travelled through. Potemkin feared that Catherine might react badly if she encountered the despair and poverty that was really being faced by the Russian serfs, and as a result of his actions Catherine saw a healthy, happy nation. The idea of a fake façade built to distort a view became known as a Potemkin Village.

There have been many such illusions created by councils and governments in years since. In his book The New Rulers of The World, journalist John Pilger drew attention to how the council of Sydney had hidden the city’s poorer aboriginal communities from the Olympic Committee during the selection process for the 2000 Olympic Games. Continue reading

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Filed under travel: culture, viewing: experience, writing: non-fiction, writing: opinion, writing: political

One Down! – A birthday on doomsday

Moon Under Water is one year old! And on the same day that the world is due to end! Great!

Twelve months ago to this day the blog started with no real direction. It began as a series of meandering posts on various topics, with each post designed to respond to the last in some way. It has been a busy year, both in blog-world and real-world, and I just wanted to set aside a post to say thank you to all readers both regular and irregular (or “odd”).

To any who aren’t already aware, all past posts can be found in the archive things in the menu bar at the top of the page, and all new posts are released through Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and e-mail (if you follow the blog). I’d just like to round everything up with a quick top-three blog moments of 2012. Continue reading

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Filed under viewing: experience, Words, writing: blogging, writing: opinion

Text > Image > Text – Reading photographs and words

Text Image Text lead image

Flood wrecks woodland after giant ogre destroys dam…

A picture tells a thousand words. But there are cases where a dozen words can redefine a picture.

In his 1977 publication Image Music Text critic Roland Barthes observed how text can often become parasitical upon images. This happens both in spaces like galleries and exhibitions, where wall-mounted captions can supersede what the eye observes in an art piece, or in printed photograph captions where a description of an image can often clash with what the image actually shows. Barthes‘ theory proposes that the closer text is to an image the less more incorporated it becomes, so with image captions that sit outside an image more can possibly be inferred than by words trapped inside an image.

Although the strength of a good image can outweigh the impact of the text upon it, this does still present words an unbalanced power over images Continue reading

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Filed under art: design, art: photography, Viewing, viewing: experience, writing: non-fiction, writing: opinion

Inter Active – Zombies in the machine

inter |inˈtər| verb ( -terred , -terring ) [ trans. ] (usu. be interred)
place (a corpse) in a grave or tomb, typically with funeral rites
+
active |ˈaktiv| adjective
(of a person) engaging or ready to engage in physically energetic pursuits

(The above definitions are from the Oxford English Dictionary)

Image of a person taking a photo of the Mona Lisa on an iPad, from Broadsheet.ie. Click for link.

Image courtesy of broadsheet.ie, click for link.

A touch of housekeeping again. Just wanted to say a very quick congratulations to Built Dublin, winners of the Best Arts/Culture blog at the 2012 Blog Awards Ireland. Moon Under Water picked up a beautiful certificate for the blog’s listing as a finalist, and I enjoyed a terrific night at the awards ceremony. A new page of recommended blogs is under development – watch this space.

The term ‘interactive’ has become synonymous with technology that allows for user engagement. This includes video games, websites, mobile phone applications and other digitally-based media. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that “interactivity” is perhaps more than it seems (see the definition above), that it is the undead media-manipulated masses of dancing a morose merengue.

Consider for a moment the interactivity of the daily commute. Most people who will be reading this will have used trains, trams, subways and buses as modes of transport in recent times. However, what the average reader may not have noticed is the growing tendency for the undead to meander among them on a daily basis. Every morning coffee-deprived, bleary-eyed commuters board their local public transport contraptions, staring down into their hands at hidden devices that keep them pacified. Continue reading

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Filed under art: contemporary, viewing: experience, viewing: films, Words, writing: anthropology, writing: opinion, writing: technology

Nothing Gets In Or Out – The fascinating nature of life on islands

One of my current art projects looks at the idea of islands and life. Click for link.

Each year coyotes, somehow, make their way through the sprawling mass of the five burroughs and find their way into Central Park on the island of Manhattan. Island or not, dangerous or not, life seems to find a way to squeeze through the gaps to insulated sanctuaries even in the most unpredictable circumstances.

Islands have an impenetrable feel to them. They are locked away from access except by sea or by sky, and yet there always seems to be a travelling presence of something. There are uncountable records of remote islands ceding to populations from insect, animal, bird and even human. And as unlikely as it seems, and no matter how remote the destination, somehow life finds a way to expand and populate.

Image sourced at npr.org, click for link. Image by Patrick Honan / Nick Carlile, link unavailable.

Take for example the giant insects found on Ball’s Pyramid, a tiny island not far from the coast of Australia. These hand-sized crawlers, known informally as “tree lobsters”, somehow managed to find their way onto an uninhabited (and barely habitable) rocky precipice Continue reading

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Filed under Travel, travel: exploration, viewing: experience, writing: anthropology, writing: entomology