Friday, 31 October 2014

Article by Cyrus Bozorgmehr | Global Thinker


Alphabets – Dualism and Digitality – The Encoding of Experience

Source: Synchronicity and Subculture

Thoughts on the alphabet’s role in shaping human perception and the evolution of society

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"
John 1.1

Language and the written word are a defining foundation of society. Communication led to collaboration which led to productivity which led to invention which led to knowledge which perhaps one day will lead to wisdom. We would be lost without the written word; it lies at the core of what it is to be human and yet we scarcely stop to question the patterns, the effects and the meanings behind the orgy of words poured out into the stratosphere.

 The written word evolved through two distinct strains, both of which sought to frame communicative verbal language in the most logical terms. These roughly break down into conceptual and mathematical. The conceptual uses ‘onomatopoeic’ images such as hieroglyphics and Chinese style characters to convey meaning and concepts in their entirety while the mathematical invented an entirely artificial code, or alphabet. This series of abstract symbols could be used as ingredients in a wider formula of digital language where the order of the code equated to its meaning.


We in the West are immersed in the mathematical, and use letters to construct words on a daily basis without even considering that we are using algebra to express human action and human emotion. That it works as communication and documentation is indisputable, but if we probe deeper into the ramifications of representing reality through pure mathematics, we begin to uncover some intriguing questions.
Most of us will be familiar with the ‘Left Brain, Right Brain’ dichotomy where the left hemisphere of the brain is responsible for linear reasoning, mathematical structure and the evolution of ‘logical function’ while the right hemisphere is associated with intuition, spirituality, imagery and holistic perception. This conflicted unity is represented throughout cultural history through symbolism like yin and yang, Gaia and Jupiter; male and female. And while no individual can operate purely on one side of the brain, individuals and whole cultures can be defined through which of the hemispheres is dominant – at least metaphorically.
The right brain is usually symbolised by female iconography, for example Mother Earth, while the left brain is almost inevitably manifested in masculinity, male gods and patriarchal societies. There came a point in social history when a tendency toward the holistic, female infused society was usurped by the brutal patriarchy that most of our blood stained history chronicles. Within that conquest of the female by the male, the matriarchal by the patriarchal, the right brain by the left brain, we find the development of the formulaic alphabet playing a subversive role.


There is a compelling argument to be made that as language moved from imagery representing concept to an abstract formula super imposed on reality, the analytical, ‘male’ element of consciousness and culture began its ascendancy. The alphabet’s linear code broke the connection between representation and reality and saw a critical schism take root between mankind and an intuitive understanding of nature and the world around him.
As the linear alphabet began to take hold, humanity effectively began an evolutionary process where brain function and the nervous system were shaped by rationalism. Humans use different neural pathways and different areas of the brain to interpret pictograms than they do the alphabet. The dominance of one leads to a self fulfilling prophecy as those pathways come increasingly to the fore in both the understanding and communication of reality. The methods we use to define the world around us actively shape our perception.
Developing societies began to retreat behind a self generated patriarchal construct of reality where language and writing became a purely human code with no discernible reference to the world it was describing.


Holistic, ‘feminine’ forms of expression and figurative methods of representation were ousted by the literal and the formulaic. The advent of the written alphabet saw a new generation of male deities sweep across the ancient world wreaking havoc in their wake and slowly eroding the right, the role and the respect of the female, both in their human and in their conceptual form. The very nature of the code’s complexities excluded almost all from literacy, as people could no longer look at a character on the wall and understand what it described by its appearance alone.
Thus, a closed elite of the literate was created, and as the great religions began to establish themselves, it rapidly became apparent that only such institutions could afford to educate their own scribes in the alphabet, while the average peasant was bound to the land for food, and the landowner interested only in warmongering and profit.
Slowly but surely, the patriarchal religions developed a monopoly on literacy, and consequently on truth. If you were an illiterate peasant, ‘truth’ and ‘God’s Word’ would only ever be communicated through the filter of an all too human member of the clergy. Such extraordinary power embodied in fallible men and powerful institutions inevitably led to extraordinary abuses.

trey ratcliff 2 

Many of us have wondered how on earth the scriptures – be they Bible, Koran or Torah were warped into such oppressive instruments of patriarchy. There’s very little Jesus or Mohammed said that most of us would disagree with – even taking into account the context of contemporary custom. So many institutionalized positions of religion are directly at odds with the original scriptures – and one of the principle reasons is that for well over a thousand years, the power structure had an unfettered ability to manufacture truth without fear of question – as literacy was a fortified sacristy. For centuries in Europe, translating the Bible into the vernacular and out of Latin was deemed heresy, punishable by death, and the Reformation, for all its homicidal zeal, was rooted in the injustice of Catholicism’s strongarm monopoly on truth.
Thus reading, writing and thereby truth remained firmly in the hands of a masculine cabal that taught only the strictest adherence to the approved word and had a disturbing propensity toward slaughtering those whose spirits tended toward the holistic or the feminine. Even the Virgin Mary who is represented and worshipped again and again in Christian iconography is stripped of all feminine qualities and reduced to a chaste vehicle for a male god. Mary Magdalene is only accepted in mainstream Christianity once she has truly repented of her sexuality, and the cults that sprang up worshipping her in her own right were swiftly put to the doctrinal sword. The Cathars, who in 12th Century France developed a far more feminine and gnostic version of Christianity that traced its roots back to the dualism of pagan Mithraism, were the first Christians a formal crusade was sent against, lest their dangerously non conformist world view leak into a wider dialogue.
Even when the visual arts began their ascent into propagandist glory during the Early Renaissance, they used an inflexible language of composition and colour, reducing painting to a linear formula that artists had to work subtly and subversively to infuse with any true depth. In the Islamic world where figurative art had been put to the patriarchal sword of the Hadiths, the alphabet itself became a visual art as calligraphy sanctified the the written word alongside geometry in the pantheon of sacred beauty. Our thought processes themselves, even at their most subconscious, are so often framed in the abstract formulas that the patriarchal alphabet imposed on intuitive reality.


None of this is to question the sublime lyrical beauty of the written word or its ability to sing delicate nuance or tumultuous emotion. One cannot discount the finite nature of the pictogram and the multiplicity of meaning bestowed by multiples of 26. These are merely thoughts on evolutionary consciousness and how alphabets shaped human history and social characteristics. It is arguable that on a subliminal level, charting reality in our own code rather than in nature’s symbols has slowly detached us from the rhythms of the natural world.
It is however an interesting contribution to questions concerning patriarchy and the historical role of women in society. If one accepts the dualism that underpins almost all archetype, it is more than clear that male and female have long been in imbalance. It goes deeper than issues like the status of women and into behavioral patterns and systems of perception – pathways in our brain that interpret reality through imperceptible prisms.

There are myriad channels in our history that evolutionary currents flowed through, and while the development of the alphabet was but one, while religions and beliefs and social norms may come and go, writing is so inexorably bound up with our human experience that it is impossible to analyse its impact without that analysis passing through the prism of its own subject. Now there’s a fucking irony ;-)


The Vitruvian Man And Da Vinci’s Merkaba

The Vitruvian Man And Da Vinci’s Merkaba


The Vitruvian Man is a famous drawing by Leonardo da Vinci made in 1490. The drawing reflecting the uses of proportions and symmetry of the human body as a symbol of perfection and harmony. It is an expression of the re-discovery of the mathematical proportions of the human body in the 15th century and is one of the known art works of the Italian Renaissance.

The drawing  made from ink and watercolor. His size : 34.3 cm -24.5 cm in length and width. He is now part of the collection of the Academy Gallery (Gallerie dell’Accademia) in Venice. It describes the shape of a naked man in two modes placed on top of each other, with his hands outstretched to the side, the figure simultaneously surrounded by a circle and a square. The drawing and text often called “canon relationship”.

One can describe the human body as a tool used by the harmonious action between the high and low chakras and combining them. Beautifully realized that Leonardo da Vinci, when placed the human body in Star of David (try to imagine a human figure, head, and hands and feet slices in a pattern Star of David). Human nature, then, is to combine the spiritual world the material world. Know how to find a higher purpose and insights in every daily action, but also know to express spiritual messages that he receives in a physical way. We live in a world where the only possible connection between the physical and spiritual world and our essence in this life is to create the connection. On the one hand not only be spiritual and yet was not only physical, but the ability to live everyday with the information that we do receive in a spiritual essence.
Hexagram from 1492 drawing by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

This is the most famous version of his painting, The Vitruvian Man (c. 1485) Accademia, Venice, which has pentagram instead Hexagram. The accompanying text by Leonardo da Vinci is written in mirror writing.

Burkina Faso | Works of Art

The West African village where every house is a work of art

Burkina Faso in West Africa,  is not an area that usually gets a lot of visits of tourists, but at the base of a hill with a view of  the sunny savannah lies an extraordinary village, a circular 1.2 hectare complex of intricately embellished earthen architecture. It is the residence of the chief, the royal court and the nobility of the Kassena people, who first settled the region in the 15th century, making them one of the oldest ethnic groups in Burkina Faso.

            Image: Rita Willaert

The village keeps itself extremely isolated and closed to outsiders, most likely to ensure the conservation and integrity of their structures and to protect the local traditions.  There is interest in developing the site as a cultural tourism destination to generate economic resources for conservation but it is a delicate process.

Image: Rita Willaert

A royal residence in West Africa is not what we might think of when we imagine royal palaces. In Tiébélé, the Cour Royale is made up of a series of small mud brick structures inside a compound, covered with natural clay paints in elaborate geometric patterns to differentiate them from the homes of the common people.

 Image: Rita Willaert

The chief’s house has the smallest door for protection -

Image: Rita Willaert

The kitchen is simple, differing only from the rest of the kitchens in West Africa by the presence of a few extra clay and iron pots.

 Image: Rita Willaert

Some of the most elaborately decorated houses however are not actually living quarters but mausoleums for the dead, who are laid to rest in the same compound.  The photograph by Rita Willaert below is an example of one of the village mausoleums.

Image: Rita Willaert

Some of the art is symbolic while a lot of it is purely decoration– all a result of the traditional skills of the isolated Kassena culture.
Spiral -


See dozens more photos of the village by Rita Willaert and read more about Olga’s account of her tour around the village on Travel with Olga


Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Magic of Voodoo | Republic of Benin

See Here:

This is far more that what it looks like. A performance perhaps? A display of culture?  Half-naked sweaty natives all dancing around as is their want. What does it all mean? The music fills the air with solid rhythm, linking our heart beats to the earth and the world around us. To most this would be dismissed, shrugged off the shoulders as "but that is how they live in the village, how very primitive"...but is it? What is it exactly that we are seeing, as we perversely press our eyes up to the keyhole of life in rural West Africa. The heartlands of Voodoo....We are only seeing a fraction of what we should be seeing. To be there would be too frightening for most, especially those impressionable masses. They would be possessed, taken over by the spirits and shown a different dimension, an alternative environment, a world without end. We are so naive, so primitive in our thinking. We are a million light years away for what is going on here in the jungle oasis, in the mud and straw-huts found in the gardens of Benin.

I went to bed early this evening before 7pm because I had watched this clip earlier in the day and couldn't stop thinking about it. Ideas were rolling around and around in my head as I tried to solve the puzzle that was swimming in my mind. So I slept and dreamt about what I had seen and when I woke I understood the world a little more. Well rested, I think they say, but I woke wanting to type out my thoughts, dreams and workings out. We must ask ourselves what are we seeing here? What is really going on, let us try to put all these magical pieces together to make up the full story..Why the earthy colours and the straw skirts? Why the bright yellow egg yokes, the circular movements and the rotating trances? Why is this ceremony taking place just after the rains when the sun is about to be at it's strongest? The trick of the light, the use of the heat of the mid-day sun beaming on the topless dancers, warming up their caduceus or rods of Hermes. The connection to the outter world of the solar systems having importance on the here and now. All these questions and more raced through my imagination to the point where I had faith and belief that I could channel myself into a compeletly different world where all in my path had the gift of flight. I am sure this has been done for generations, the power of the mind is so limited when caged in the confines of a classroom. The enormous open spaces and the oneness with nature can have an everlasting effective on even the shallowest of minds.

There is a connection about the way we see the world and how our eyes function. Our eyes deceive us and our conditional minds make us judge too quickly that all too often we miss what is directly in front of us. All the clues are there as plain as day, if only we could see correctly. The retina of the eyes sees images upside down and movement through a series of frames per second. This has a scientific structure to it but in the wilderness it is naturally found on purpose rather than by accident. In my dream I saw a wooden fence on which, different block colours on each overlapping wooden panel were drawn. The hight of these colours varied but only slightly; as I walked passed the fence so I could see the colours move in a wave-like motion similar to that of the sea. I realised it was to do with the speed at which I walked. How the eyes were recording what I was seeing and sending messages to my brain. This two dimensional fence was now a three dimensional wave of colours so let us look again at the dancers in the village. Their movement and straw skirts are used for a reason. To flow like a series of undulating triggerfish sending the viewers into hypnotic states of forgetfulness or trance-like states of rememberance.We have forgetten how to breathe and how to use our bodies to the maximun and to elicit their ultimate design functions. To twist and rolate to find that magnetic pull that lies beneath the soil, the dusty land underfoot. We have, for far too long disregarded the polar shifts in the conscious world preferring to sink back into the vortex of modernity thinking that this is somehow a superior place to be. We have lost our centre, our solar cross and ignored the path of ascencion and the importance of the serpent power found in Kundalina wrapped around our spines. Divinity is sacred not to be mocked or poked fun of as it is our lifeblood, our way to complete our otherwise fractured spirits, in other words our way to become whole again.

Having understood these basic prinicples of the primitive what have we learnt? These simple mathematical equations of speed, hight and colour. Mix in the music of the thud of the bass drum, which makes our hearts flutter and race into a different mode. What have we taken on-board, allowed ourselves to mentally comprehend a reality that has been taught to us since the beginning; expressed and acted out since man first stepped foot on earth. The ways into an other dimension, a world within a world. To bend space and time with a series of physical and collection exercises. These spinning, rotating dances are to send us on our way going. We need to revisit the Ankh and the other Nubian symbols that welcomes in another vision, a contrast to the ones we have been lead to believe and forced to digest. Now is the time to move out of our comfort zones and discover alternative realites in order to keep ourselves safe and sound. Let us draw from the templates of consciousness fearing only the disappointment in our lack of finding of a better tomorrow today.

George Afedzi Hughes | Afromagic

Thinking about George Afedzi Hughes.....

Social Predation Gallery | George Afedzi Hughes

Suspension, 2008, 30x24ins, acrylics, oils, and enamels on canvas.

The Saw of Royalty*, 2008, 72 X 96ins, acrylics, oils, and enamels on canvas

Coronation Map**, 2008-2010, 53 x 49 ins, mixed media on canvas.

Eclipse, 2007, 68x47ins, acrylics, oils, and enamels on canvas.

Falcons and Teddy Bears, 2005, 47x68ins, acrylics, oils, and enamels on canvas.

Golden Boot, 2010, 48x32 ins, mixed media on canvas.

Hustler*, 2008, 72x96ins , acrylics, oils, and enamels on canvas.

Levitation*, 2008, 72x96ins, acrylics, oils, and enamels on canvas.

Libido, 2009, acrylics, oils, and enamels on canvas.

Libido Spit, 2006, 96x72ins, acrylics, oils, and enamels on canvas.

Minerals*, 2008-2013, 72x120ins, acrylics, oils, stickers, enamels

Mortality**, 2006, 38x65ins, , acrylics, oils, and enamels on canvas.

Study Of Figmentation I**, 2006, 42x68ins, , acrylics, oils, and enamels on canvas.

The Origins of Art | Côte d’Ivoire

Let us look at the life lived in Cote D'Ivoire and festivals that are performed every month..And so how does an artist reflect these wild colourful ideals to a passive European audience. An artist that is from the sun and this show of cultural behaviour through the performance artists, how can he become an international artist in his own right?

Images from Côte d’Ivoire including the stilt festival

Fig 1.

Fig 2.
Fig 4.
Fig 3.

Masks From Côte d’Ivoire from the Dan Tribe

If African Art starts anywhere it starts here.......

Monday, 27 October 2014

ERNEST DÜKÜ | Et Dieu Crea La Pintade


Ernest Duku | Et Dieu Crea La Pintade

And God Created the Guinea Fowl

Western ideology is foreign to most parts of Africa in terms of seeing. Art in Africa is participatory, it is like the traditional religion of Voodoo/Voodou, it is the ephemeral for all to enjoy naturally in order to gain a sense of belonging. The beauty of a leaf, a tree, feathers from a bird, a footprint of an elephant on red soil or the cheetah’s majestic coat. Art is everywhere but in the West they have a vulgar way of caging and monetizing almost everything; be it their zoos, their water, light and air, even their walks to their workstations comes at a price. Western art is useless to Africa. It is alien and destined for deportation in every way. What is claimed as valuable is nonsense to most. Images on canvases, usually with factory manufactured oils or acrylics from China are then framed and heralded as Masterpieces by the academic world in their overpriced, high-walled, stuffy and archaic Institutions to which they belong. The ideas are presented perfectly, neatly framed, so too are the minds of the viewers. To the majority in Africa, these images are not seen naturally and therefore serve no purpose as Art, for at no point is there a sense of inclusion. It is more dictatorial with an unhealthy sense of superiority, often blended with a self-righteous ‘I told you so’ attitude attached. Art in Africa is a far more collective affair, a glue for a united community rather than a status symbol or a blinkered state of mind. The sense of sharing knowledge and giving the baton over to others is where Art lives but this generosity is rarely seen in the Art World. we are at a turning point in the History of African Art and never in history has there ever been a more important time to address these vital issues. In the works of Ernest Duku, Africa has a chance to show it's true strength and power.

Early 20th Century Yoruba Divination Board
To begin to understand the concepts behind the art created from the artist, Ernest Duku, we must firstly learn about the source of where these ideas originate. In appreciating the artist's cultural background will lead inevitably, to a more comprehensive undestanding of the works. The visual narrative in Duku's work makes constant reference to his African upbringing and refers to the ancient practices, which remain pivotal to rural societies within Cote D'Ivoire. Although the artist, now lives in Paris, he reaps immense solace in his faith and sacred cognitive heritage, which makes his art authentically African. The days, months and years are mapped out through a series of rituals that poignantly speak to the people living within the villages of West Africa. These indigenous practises are oral rather than scriptural and are performed outside in order to worship the grandeur of nature. Triggering the ascend of the spirits with alcoholic libation they call upon the ancestors for reassurance and wisdom.  This practise is rudimentary to most West Africans as they place so much emphasis on the ancestors. This connection to the past yields a tremendous sense of belonging. The ancestors play a vital role in the personal and collective guidance to those, here on earth, and alleviates the crippling loneliness suffered by many in the developed world. Other major aspects include magic and the extensive knowledge of traditional herbal medicines. These factors are the necessary keys to unlock the heart of the artist's past and are fundamental in appreciating his unique works of Art. In deciphering these primitive nuances we are better equipped in finding our universal humanity. To those in West Africa the role of humanity is generally seen as one of harmonising nature with the supernatural via 'divination'; this phrase comes from the Latin divinare, "to foresee, to be inspired by gods", related to divinus, the divine. In rural Africa this divination comes in the shape of a vessel, which is used in the attempt to gain insight into puzzling social challenges by way of indigenous rituals. Diviners are closely connected to the earth and the spirits that surround us and once contact has been made are then presented with a series of events, signs and omens via the supernatural world. These clairvoyant visions or prophet dreams, which are bestowed on the witch-doctors can be ambiguous but always opportune for interpretations. This process is carried out under a systematic method by which to engineer issues that are often unexplainable; what appears to be disjointed or random facets of existence can then be mentally digested with clear insight on any given problem. These acts have formal or ritualistic elements attached and are the glue that binds the community together. Sadly, these practises are dismissed by the majority in the Western world who have been made sceptics, many of whom live without faith or a deeper understanding of the importance of mysticism.

Let us call upon the ancestors to show their force here with us on earth. We maybe many but we come from even greater stock and our full force has yet to be recognised. Far too often we are standing in the shadows, nervous we are not worthy of note but in reality we are what the world is aching for..bored of seeing the utter dribble shown in the name of Modern Art.

What and who are these Saints? These are our ancestors, our great noble past...good and bad.

Let us now focus on the artwork, Et Dieu Crea La Pintade | And God Created the Guinea Fowl and discuss it's makeup...The idea of art created with a frame is unnatural for Africa. To be contained in that framework makes no sense or nonsense to the majority and Ernest is well aware of these limited he's taking his work out of the frame and making a whole new version of art in his own unique way..
Initially I thought the work was made up of polystyrene, a material used when learning how to swim and denotes that idea of travel.

That idea of water and immigration and overseas adventures...The idea of learning to float, learning to keep up with the sharks and swim with the fishes but in a good way..The idea of leaving the shallow-end and keeping afloat in the deep-end but the artist assures me that the material is his own invention. He tells me it is a mixture of paper, wood shavings and powder along with other secret materials. He blends them all together and creates a paste that is similar to the white plaster used on North African new builds. The paste is then shaped and left to harden in the sun and then once hardened Ernest then goes to work of shaping out his ideas around the mould with different coloured threds that binds the divination and holds the work together. The flashes of red in this piece denotes the sacrifice created and a Guinea Fowl is a very precious animal to give to the Gods...a prized bird indeed. The guinea fowl are a family of birds in the Galliformes order, although some authorities include the guinea fowl as a subfamily, Numidinae, of the family Phasianidae. So why the Guinea Fowl? The speckled hen...what is this bird? Where does it come from? The origins are West African and this spectatular bird is a symbol of safety in childbirth. The Guinea fowl is prized by the French…largely ignored by the British and is a bird of legend that has been used as food for thousands of years.

In the time of the Pharaohs, 2400 B.C. images of the bird were inscribed on the walls of temples and pyramids. The figure takes pride of place on the work and is the central motif and holds the work together as the major theme. Also we see the feet of the bird repeated in the artwork, which depicts luck of a fowl's foot; alongside these feet are different symbols, which are hyroglifics and Nubian signs of Ankh the symbol for eternal life and the staff beside it is to soul-catcher from Eastern and Northern Africa, so the artist pulls from the entire Continent to share his ideas within this work trying to weave a connection into a complex Continent, which is united in similar ideals of creativity, global conciousness and divinity.

Words by Joe Pollitt 2014

Thinking of Ms. Lauryn Hill and she's used a track from The SLITS. Perfect.