BLOG: To Become Visible

Handprints
  • Neon Fingerprints : Known Unknown

    A pause, this Leap Day 2020, the 29th of February. March abides, poised, red sword, promising to come in like a lion. In these look-before-you-leap shadows, the future seeps toward the present; the past folds and unfolds, a paper fan, a shaman’s staff, a collapsed umbrella.  This day, we the leap-frog into the … 

    It's not sector specific, or company specific. It's a known unknown. This is something that is developing daily, and the impact is going to depend on how long disruption lasts for, how wide, from a regional point of view, the disruption spreads.
    — Warren East, chief executive, Rolls-Royce Holdings, a leading UK-based engine manufacturer.  (Feb 2020)

    We used to talk about going into the wilderness and leaving only our footprints behind. In the Anthropocene we realize that's no longer possible, that we’ve touched every inch of the planet, left our neon fingerprints everywhere.
    — Diane Ackerman, Writer, from an interview with Robert Macfarlane in Confluence 73 (2019)

    One of them must be wrong, right?  There is strong support that the footprint extended beyond the satellite data and the closures.
    — Igal Berenshtein, lead author of “Invisible oil beyond the Deepwater Horizon satellite footprint,” published Feb2020 in the journal Science Advances.  

    We really cannot say whether it will get better, whether it will get worse, what sort of situation is going to unfold.
    — Lawrence Wong, Singaporean cabinet minister and co-chair of Singapore's CoV task force. (Feb2020)

    At the limit, the imaginary is a virtual image that is interfused with the real object, and vice versa, thereby constituting a crystal of the unconscious.
    — Gilles Deleuze, Philosopher

    Photos by Douglas Beauchamp (2020)
    Below: Art by Dorothy Siemens, on a Traffic Box (detail), Eugene OR

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  • Not sure about the next hundred

    In her review of Jenny Offill’s new novel Weather, Christine Smallwood in comparing it to Offill's first book writes:  
    — We no longer feel confident that conscious creatures with opposable thumbs will be walking the earth in another thousand years. We’re not sure about the next hundred. [1]

    I excerpt this out of context, yet this thought resonates for me. I’ve just returned from Central Oregon.  I looked, wondered, at two paint-hands at nearby places along the (now-named) John Day River.

    Two Hands: dense gray, pale red. Hands marking, pausing, greeting, passing. Handprints appearing with indistinct thumbs. Perhaps lightly touched, perhaps faded, perhaps four fingers signaled a particular gesture. [2]

    How did the one who reached out to touch the stone sense time?  As seasons?  As yesterday, today, tomorrow? As Future and Past?  Was this Present simultaneous with what was then and will be?  

    Do I grasp “another thousand years?”  The next hundred?  No, not closely, surely. I do understand two other lines, also excerpted from Smallwood writing in the review:
    — No matter how the world ends, we will continue to be human beings until we are dead.
    — Whatever we do now—whatever we write, make, or build—has to mean something now, to the people who are here.

    [1] Meditations in an Emergency:  Jenny Offill’s novel of the barely bearable present. A review of Weather by Jenny Offill by Christine Smallwood in Bookforum Feb/Mar 2020.
    [2] Noting these two close-up photos (iPhone XR) of faded hand-print/rock paintings are color-enhanced (macOS Photos).

  • Solstice Summer 2018

    Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson, Circles (Essay, 1841)

  • Making Tracks, Leaving Traces

    Track. Trace. Trait. These words originate from the Latin tractus: drawing, dragging, drafting, pulling. They all speak to marks resulting from an action. A pen on paper, a foot on sand, a hoof on mud. Stone on stone. With petroglyphs a doubling results. The petroglyph itself marking stone. The image resembling an animal or human print or track in real space. Further, the modern photograph digitally traces the reflected light. The traits of the image store as bits subject to recall by the computer, displayed as something recognizable. Traces.

    Petroglyph images as tracks and traces, though infrequent among the thousands of mostly abstract glyphs in the northwestern Great Basin, stand out due to their resonance as resemblance. We recognize. We have an idea, a memory, a feeling. We say it looks like. We may ascribe values. Look from placement to place. We will circle back to our own hands. Our feet. Our digital self.

    Most of these petroglyphs are thousands years old. Embedded, intentional, and crafted markings, they embody as signs, signals, symbols, icons, or metaphors. Their appearances alter through time. Though powerful markers, for us they now lack social or cultural context, eluding meaning while producing a tension, an ambiguity of presence and absence of th human and the animal we know has been here, gone there.

    The thinking and writing of David Summers, Bruno Latour, and Michel Serres has challenged my understanding. Of course they are no way liable for the track I have followed! 

    Album: Tracks & Traces Petroglyphs