Define the colour red
Colours those ambiguous concepts which language cannot describe or deal with. We seem to agree on them although if we think carefully, I could be seeing a different colour from what you are seeing but we only agree on the name. We tend to apply various qualities to each colour, such as violence to the red colour, but they are just imposed qualities, which have no relation to the colour itself.
The insufficiency of language in that case in addition to our lack of understanding of the concept interested me. I investigated how we use language in describing colours, I found that our use of the word "like" plays a big role in connecting what we understand to what we do not understand, it seems like the bridge between two worlds.
Perception determines everything
Meaning is a mutual changing thing, as you give something meaning your brain changes as well. Think how your neurons communicate with each other. Think how parts of your brain get more active than others when you do the activity attached to it. I wanted to make this piece as an interactive piece using the make lap but they were too busy. I chose a psychological test symbol to signify the idea that meaning is given by each one of us and it differs from one of us to the other, regardless. The fact that you can change it endlessly through pressing signifies the idea that meaning is an ever-changing matter not static.
1+1=2 is an example of those effects that impact our judgements in our attempt to find meaning. Those categories, sets of systems and rules determine our views of meaning and reality and in most cases we take them for granted. By presenting this I aim to shake the attitude towards them. Also to show that this attitude results in meaning, which we know depends on made up, taken for granted rules and categories. Thus meaning which we know is incomplete.
Philosophers Whitehead and Russell wrote more than 300 pages in their book Principia Mathematica in order to prove that 1+1=2, which ironically raises a question regarding its unquestionable nature.
1+1=2 directs essential aspects of our lives, it even controls our way of thinking and its limitations. Antonio Negri in his book Savage Anomaly (1981) claims that we are prisoned in Galileo’s mathematics and that makes thinking in quantum physics difficult. This shows how deeply ingrained those sets of rules are in our lives, and how they affect our views.
I used light as light spreads and affects everything, changes appearances, as 1+1=2 spread and affect everything. But the light of the florescent is not permanent and can be changed or switched off, here I want to imply that those rules are changeable as well and that they shouldn’t be taken for granted and that they are not concrete enough to base our understanding of meaning upon them. The aim of referencing it to Principia Mathematica is to say that this rule is a human invention that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
The aim in this piece is to express that moment before committing to a schema or a category or a definition, that moment where the world stands in my opinion between being meaningful and meaningless.
Inspired by the day-to-day use of the letter X and its use in particular fields such as science and mathematics. That special position which it occupies, the letter X in particular hangs between offering itself to being meaningful, yet doesn’t quite give itself completely to be meaningful. If we think of x-ray or x-factor… x in both words is in the middle between meaningful and meaningless.
I hung a letter X with an invisible fishing thread but it is half fixed to the ground, using a visible metal string to symbolise our attempt to tie it to a meaning. The X being in the middle symbolises our inability to fix it to a meaning, to set it to the ground. The piece is made of transparent polystyrene with a layer of one-way mirror placed on it, which allows the viewer to see themselves on one side and see the world through it on the other side. Both views modified into the ambiguity of the letter X. as if the world is framed within the x shape, that shape that stands in a meaningful/meaningless position. As if the world has got stuck into X shape moment lost in time and place, that moment before you look into the mirror and get defined and that moment before you see the world and define it. Because looking into the hung X and seeing yourself adds the X frame with all its connotations to your image and the same happens to the world.
What I currently know
Researching about meaning, I got lost and I found myself going endlessly into vicious circles. It is a very big vast topic no one can get to the bottom of it. It is overwhelming, endless. I chose to write all what I’ve acquired of knowledge about meaning on the wall to give an overwhelming effect to the viewer. I have also decided to write it in a chaotic way as it is chaotic in my head as well as information about meaning is also chaotic in the world. It appears unfinished as well because searching for meaning of meaning has no end and it is and will always be unfinished.
Exploring the above idea made me think of how similar our situation to the idea of Plato’s cave, in the sense that we experience certain sets of beliefs since birth, which make us unable to think otherwise. Our senses dictate how we experience being and existence all together, and that is what we believe. We can’t and won’t see that this might be one side of many sides of reality. They act like the chains that tie the prisoners in Plato’s cave. Responding to this idea I created the piece titled (Plato’s Cave). I used mirrors reflecting the world, and mainly us, luring the viewer from a distance and when they come close there will be dictated by foot steps how they would move around those mirrors, dictating how they should see the world, they would stand there see the world and their existence this way only, then they find out that they are trapped in this situation as there is no foot steps to lead them out which symbolise our imprisonment in that situation. This symbolises the fact that we are trapped inside our senses, what they dictate our own existence and about ‘reality’.
A book of references
I tried to communicate the fact that trying to know, understand or acquire meaning is endless unfinished overwhelming through making a book of references I tried to collect all the reference pages of the books that have the word meaning in their title all in one book to show how vast the meaning of meaning is. And how impossible the process is. The book has no end to give this meaning. Also it is hung to show how vast it is in shape and in content. Imagine if you really want to know about meaning you need to read all those books with meaning in its title plus all the books in each one of their reference pages. It is also hung in a low level to show the irony that the information is available but not available as it is too difficult to completely acquire it all.
Trying to understand “meaning” in everything around us. Language is a main part of that. Thinking of words and the meaning they signify. I chose the word “I” as the closest word to any of us, asking the questions: what is its actual meaning or meanings. Does its meaning vary to each of us? Does it have a meaning at all what does that say about language and meaning as a whole? I tried to take the word I to its pre state of meaning, into just floating lines. In an attempt to get the viewer to see language and meaning within it as it is. Not exact, not precise, differs from one person to another. I’ve hung metal rods of the edges of the word “I” which symbolise emptiness. The word “I” can be seen from a certain point which is the middle of the opposite wall from my height, which symbolise that words differ in meaning from one person to another based on the persons understanding, culture, background… you could see a meaning in a word I or others don’t see it.
Placing the world in between scare commas
From all the doubts I expressed before, my research, reading in science, philosophy, etc. all that made me doubt the existence of the whole world as we experience it. To express this I have created an over sized inverted, sceptical or scare commas as they call them. You place them around a word when you are questioning it or have doubts concerning it. I thought by placing those commas out in the world, it is as if the whole world will be absorbed within them and that they would express to the world the doubts regarding its existence. I had great hopes on how to place them but health and safety obstacles stopped me. So I just thought I replace them in a place with no identity as much as I can to avoid the scepticism being restricted to a place and for it to be general towards the whole world-They are on the piece of grass next to the tennis court-.
How public is a public place
Some of my colleagues were doing a non-profitable artistic activity in a public place. Although it was not profitable and they did not disturb anyone, in fact, the opposite was true, they were having fun and sharing a good artistic experience with the public, yet they were stopped by the security and the police. This incident made me think about the definition of a public space and if this term really exists. I thought I could protest against the deceiving nature of the term "public space" and try to place it back to the ownership of the public. I created a signpost in a triangular warning shape and written on it the term "public Space". I have chosen the warning shape to try to convey to the public the idea to try and claim back their public space, and the freedom that they have lost.
Drawing the shadow of the pen using the same pen
Through this performance piece I attempt to draw the shadow of a pen using the same pen, in order to simulate our delusional attempt to find meaning. Claiming that we can fully understand and get hold of meaning and reality while being part of it is nonsensical. We can never be completely objective. Also tools and references, which we use to understand the world are part of it, the result is that our view of it is always partial and incomplete. In this way I claim that the attempt to find whole concrete meaning is similar to the attempt to trace the pens shadow using the same pen.
The pen and the hand that holds it are similar to the tools, which we use to understand the world. The shadow of the pen is similar to the meaning that we are trying to get hold of. The mark on the wall is similar to the result of the attempt. The results of our attempt in both cases are related to the initial aims of the attempts, but they are not precise, they are not satisfying.
Many factors interfere to determine the result in both cases, as for the case of the pen the direction of the light for instance, the thickness of the pen, the direction of the light, etc. as for our attempt to find reality or meaning our perceptions, language limitations, the society sets of categories and systems would interfere. These interferences make the conclusions partial and incomplete. Also the mark on the wall is an unsatisfying summary of the shadow. The same applies to the results we get of all the researches, all the books about meaning etc.
Presenting this as a performance in a way mocks all the efforts to find meaning, yet end up with almost nothing or something incomplete and partial.