Human face. The Face. What is there what our conscience claims as ‘real’ that is more exposed and more impenetrable, more familiar and more uncanny, more loved and more despised?
At the beginning there was a Chaos and…
For millions of years mankind lived just like the animals
Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination
We learned to talk (S.Hawkins quoted by Pink Floyd in “Keep Talking”)
When first cavemen put images of their world on the walls of their mind and space they occupied art had been born, yet something much more had came into existence – man set afire his own genius of distracting the act of being, the Existence from itself, of putting a symbolic Name, the Face on physical, actual Self.
Through ages and generations we have been inventing our humanity cutting through its surface to reach the depths just like a surgeon cuts a mother’s womb to reach the reluctant baby. We’ve created gods and mythologies, in wild yet far from being scare moments of a pure narcissism we gave our own, specifically Human Face to those deities and universes. Asserting and fighting our own being we’ve condemned them to our pitiful and formidable passions, to an imaginable suffering and cruel death, neither curses of perfectness nor blessings of daemons have been spared to those creations of human mind and imagination.
Modern times brought a challenge of extending the limits of our neurological systems and sensual perception through a development of electronics and virtual realities – the old dream of the Multiverse – multi-reality with parallel worlds and alternative time-lines, in which one could exist in multiple incarnations and at various points in his/hers lifespan seems to be closer than ever.
Our grand-grand parents gazed with a somehow stupefied expression on their photographic and/or painterly portrait both admiring and hating its power to capture the being by mocking it in never-accurate renditions. Our fathers made a ritual and a sexual-like act out of having a picture taken – probably more images of the human simulacrum, more Faces has been constructed in the last hundred years than in the whole history of the humankind put together and the technology has been perfected to serve that need – to multiply, duplicate, transplant, construct and deconstruct, perfect and finally – to destroy human Self in its appearance and essence.
Our humanity has been and is still our obsession, my humanity is my obsession.
It’s impossible to imagine a different scenario except that of a madness and other forms of escapism. The most surprising thing I consider to hear today (even though “to be surprised’ is even more surprising than to be alive) is when a creative person paints an abstract shapes or builds an esoteric looking structures and claims that they have nothing to do with her/him – that it’s only an ironic play with concepts, a homage to masters or an activity hanging somewhere between a void and a boredom. There is no art outside you being you, outside your guts and what is the most Sublime in you, outside the trauma and beauty of self-discovery. Art of today acts as an exorcism, a self-hypnosis, a self-therapy. Sartre’s, Freud’s, Baudrillard’s and other post-modern elements are mixed with our blood, no serious alternative has been attempted yet. To dismiss it is to be deluded.
But where to go from this bloody battlefield where dozens of conceptual corpses still seem to breathe (brrr, that sounds scary) and millions of images that have nothing to do with the real, actual being look completely legitimate, even necessary? Humanism seems to be put in fairy tales or at least it is in a serious identity crisis… Is our era is that of ‘post-human’ ? . We make our own avatars, humanoids, we attribute animals and objects with human-like qualities, we know very little about emotions and how to really communicate with each other, we attempt to cheat death – that only equal enemy still anchoring us to our fleshy, “bloody”, so called ‘human’ existence… But maybe I’m going too far after all… Maybe we only lost our Face being blinded by flashes of the contemporary challenge… Maybe…
Images above feature Loretta Lux’s work (“Dorothea”), Rembrandt’s self-portrait, Martin Parr’s work (from the “Common Sense” series) and my own snapshot taken just a while ago to incorporate my own Face (or what can pass for it) in the ‘story’.