There is a long history of movement notations. Before ubiquitous video capture you had to preserve the developed choreography somehow. Now they are more of a historical curiosity, even though they do look amazing as graphical systems.
Of course, you could also provide simple illustrations of positions, as was done in a book by Golena Voyachkova «Movement - the root of woman’s health and beauty» that came out in the Soviet Union in 1965.
It tried to illustrate movement by showing the correct (on the left) and the wrong (on the right) way of doing things.
The last image is titled «The exemplary start of the negro». This book is a good indication how movements were perceived as gender and race specific fifty years ago.
Then again you could describe movement through text:
at Bless Home Berlin.
Diseases have always been fashionable. Tuberculosis brought us the fad of looking pale and skinny. Syphilis and it’s symptomatic light sensitivity and rotten noses brought us sunglasses and fake noses that were worn even by those not afflicted by the illness.
I won’t go into detail as to why disease becomes fashionable - first, I don’t really know, and then there’s a whole conference on it.
One point of interest for me is how a fashionable disease is a promise of a physical experience. Similar to a certain subset of internet memes I wrote about before, where a human or a non-human stand-in reminds the viewer of a bodily experience from everyday life.
Smoking in film and fashion can be interpreted in the same way - as a powerful, addictive, self-inflicted bodily experience, as a promise of being highly attentive to the body, the fingers, the mouth and the inside of the lungs.
As smoking becomes much less acceptable socially - and to advertisers - the fashion photography looks for new ways to make the signifier more abstract - the models shown here are not-smoking emptied non-cigarettes.
It would be interesting to test which other bodily experiences could be promised by fashion - besides the obvious promises of eternal youth, sex and drugs. How about being uncomfortable? Being fat using a fabulous fat-suit? Freezing in the winter while wearing a down jacket with huge holes? Not being able to pee, as the process of unwrapping the clothes takes hours? Never being thirsty with a 12-liter water pack hidden in the garment? Feeling unprotected with sleeves that don’t allow your hands to touch your body, combined with an exposed belly?
Include some promise of bodily experience within your work. It changes things.
What is not in this text but could be:
- golden teeth and broken nose as a criminal status symbol
- movement restricting feathers in male peacocks as a sign of fitness
- jewellery made of wearer’s hair for cancer patients
- fidget jewellery for autists as described in a previous text
In the winter of 2013 I went to Guinea with a few friends. Guinea is one of my favourite destinations, since Silvia, the mother of my friend Christoph, is working there at a medical laboratory. And having nice people on the ground makes travelling to a foreign country much more enjoyable.
Guinea is an interesting country to visit. It is rich in natural resources, which leads to wealth being concentrated in the hands of a few powerful families. It also means that tourism is non-existent and the only white people present are professionals working at mining companies and NGOs. You can be the only white person in a densely populated area, and you get eyed on the streets - it feels like everything you do would be talked about later, so you end up being not only a guest but also an ambassador for your culture.
Mira Hirtz has a good write-up on how abstractions and representations of things become the things they meant to represent.
With regards to representations, one phenomenon that I particularly like is what I call interference. It happens when something, through its idiosyncratic existence, leaves traces in the outside world. Traces that show some of the object’s properties in a concise way.
Just look at these photographs:
Taken in Karlsruhe.
And the next one in the Alps, but that doesn’t matter that much:
The top one I call Rabbits, while the lower one is called Cows.
This kind of cow and rabbit representation contains no information about their fur or their big faithful eyes - or any of the stuff that would be discernible from an animal drawing. Instead, it offers a one-dimensional but precise documentation that the animals are present, they are hungry, they eat tree leaves and are just around this tall.
Mira also made a point that illustration of female sexual organs shape the idea of what [female] pleasure should be like.
I guess, the most suitable metaphor for the general understanding of female genitals I ever encountered is the Vertical Earth Kilometer in Kassel.
It is an artwork by Walter De Maria - a two-inch thick solid brass rod that extend one kilometer down into the earth.
On any arbitrary point on this planet a Vertical Earth Kilometer exists, though it is not perceived as such. Only through its measurement, through a penetration of earth by a thick rod, is it getting a representation that can be communicated easily.
Furthermore, the existence of the rod is purely speculative at this point in time. Sure, there must be eye witnesses that observed the rod being driven into the earth over 29 days, or, to put it differently, over a full moon cycle. But the visitors have no means to verify it: the rod is hidden from view. Yet even the theoretical existence of the rod is enough for a Vertical Earth Kilometer to exist.
Comparing this situation to the general understanding of male and female genitalia is left as an excercise to the reader.
What can not be represented, does not exist conceptually. Luckily, with new imaging techniques, female sexual organs are starting to be represented not as absence of a rod but as complex three-dimensional organs they are.