Ground - Figure

January 01, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Our understanding of things change.

Back in the 12th century the day was divided into two parts, day and night.  Each part was divided into 12 hours each.  Those hours are called seasonal hours, as while the days got shorter, so too did the daylight hours, even though there remained 12.

Technology changed how we understand hours.  With a sundial, the changing length of an hour was still comprehensible, now with mechanical and nuclear time keeping, it seems strange the idea that one hour wouldn't equal the same duration as another.

So is it time to re-examine our understanding of the figure and ground?  McLuhan & McLuhan explain the figure as that which we give our attention to of the ground, and in the focus we separate from the background.  We objectify and come to terms with it, in accord with its own features and intrinsic values.  Much like the conscious to the unconscious.  The benefit being it allows one to move from the experience of being the ground, to being able to analyze something. Geometry from the flux.

The digital shift has moved us back into the immediate, into the flux of ground and so we tend nowadays, to see things as interrelated, not isolated facts - objectified.  From physics to philosophy, we have moved back to an "oriental" understanding of the world versus the prior "occidental" view of the world.

The thing is, our split brain is already hardwired to understand both these ways of being.  Both the ground and the figure.  What has shifted is the predominance of the figure in our society.  So what is there a way to preserve both? As they both , like our double vision systems, give us an advantage under different circumstances.  So can art place value on both the ground and the figure, rather then one or the other?






© GAMcCullough      2013


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