Ways of Seeing

[portfolio_slideshow include=”,,,,,“]

“The knowledge of our own minds can be put to no better use than in understanding our social and political lives. That is why political psychology matters.”

-George Lakoff, Berkeley, CA April 2008

I feel that in order to make my work understandable, I need to track back to the start of our course, because my work has always been one continuous and evolving project.
It has always been about trying to use art for the betterment of our every day lives, and it took on different hues and turns as time passed. I started with looking into individual psychology and behaviourism. Then I moved on to how our psychology is affected by outside parameters, such as education, environment, or social- political environment of different countries. But this led me even further, into the “opposite question”, in a way. How the psychology of the individual affects his/her surroundings, may that be natural or socio-political environment.

There were several starting points in my trail of thought:
•    Walter Benjamin and his concerns on the “political tendency” movement called “The New Objectivity”, which seemed to estheticise politics, rather than politicising art.
•    The juxtaposition of Karl Marx and fascism and its context within art
•    Merleau-Ponty’s interpretation of phenomenology, being a philosophical method, its aim to put out of action the assumptions we  normally make about ourselves and the world for scientific and pratical puraposes, and to get back to the world as we directly experience it in pre-reflective perception.

Especially this last statement made me think exactly how important are our values and belief systems, towards the way we see the world. In Umberto Eco’s work, there is a very vivid element of “appearances”. For example in “The Name of the Rose”, there is a monastery in which a crime has happened. And because the people living in the monastery believe in God and devil, the crime appears as if it was either a godly act, or a devil’s work.
In another novel, “Baudolino”, the hero is placed in Constantinople at the time of its fall, narrating his travels in distant lands to a famous historian, Nikitas Choniatis. Baudolino starts describing the at the time known lands in a more or less realistic way, but when he moves on to the unexplored yet territory, he describes many fantastical things resembling in that way many maps of the time and later, which were adorned with fantastical creatures usually supposed to be living in the far east. Although this book is purely one of Eco’s most vividly imaginable works, it does contain one truth: When people met unfamiliar territory, they used their beliefs and fantasy to fill up the gaps, so to speak. Some maps of the time are a very good example.
Today we struggle to shake off the beliefs which influence our “eye sight”, such as racism,belief in a just world, the concept of evil and good and what we could call, the “Syndrome of the Man on Horseback”. This in a few words means the tendency to follow a person who seems to be in charge, and the need to believe that the people in charge are rightfully there. Most if not all of our beliefs act as layers upon our sight, and it depends on us to choose which ones are applicable and which ones aren’t.This particular trail of thought led me to this project:
It is composed of maps representing  our beliefs, and when those maps are being put in front of our eyes, in order to narrate the world to us, they act as filters to see the world through them.

To summarize, my work has led me to an idea and a question:
Each person sees the world according to their beliefs and ideas (bearing in mind of course that the psyche is influenced by its environment and education).
Is it possible for anyone to see the world adjectivally, as it exactly is? Or is the world shaped differently for each person, by what that person believes, exactly because he or she believes in it?

“Schematized Views of the World” & “Ways of Seeing” presentation