Silhouette and Form

31st January, 2007

 A few weeks ago I was in Crete (ok, I was actually in rural Virginia but I found the above photo and…) wandering around.  I noticed how the silhouette of most of the trees I saw seemed analogous to the movement of the sun across the sky: a curve.  At first I thought that the trees seemed to be a memory of that movement, but when I heard an approaching flock of geese and looked up to see the undulating curve of their collective movement I realized that the trees I was looking at were all alive, and their silhouettes were developing as were the flock of geese overhead, in concert with the movements of the sun (along with many other dynamic sub-systems).  At that moment I realized that the sun was literally a part of the tree, and that my understanding of them as being separate but related was flawed.

 It occurred to me that in an environment comprised of relationships any truly useful description of form must account for all of the physical aspects of a given object (or, more accurately, focal point within an environment), which must include each formative connection without which the object would not exist.

 Extrapolating this understanding of form into my own experience of the tree I realized that my experience of the object(s), how it appears to me, is more than my ability to identify it (tautology), and inspect it visually. Specifically, the affect associated with my moment in the mix of elements was equally an inextricable element of that form, without which “it” would not be.  Affect is physical.  Affect is complex.  Affect may be analogous to the relationship of the sun to the silhouette of the tree in that the timeframe of the relationship may not be easily observable as a linear, cause and effect sequence, but the relationship is essential, and, as such, must be accounted for.

 It seems strange to break fields of relationships, of which our mind and experience are physical components, into arrangements of discriminate parts/things, of which our experience is clearly an aspect but seems somehow limited to “simply” identifying an object as a discriminate component within a set of discriminate components – something I referred to in a previous post as “first-order”, or “target-level” sensing – a useful aspect of what we are but, perhaps, the cornerstone of an interpretive system that produces a grossly oversimplified model of the world that reduces complex relationships within which we are deeply engaged, to clumsy, yet “workable”, and certainly repeatable, tautologies that give our lives the quality and agency of spectators at every level.  I think its time to let ourselves off the leash.


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