Do not cross the line — on borders and art as a dialogue

Eitan Capital
Jan 7, 2019 · 6 min read
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Please do not cross the line. Curtesy of Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

In the modern era, everyone is an “artist”, everyone is a “creator”, everyone is a “writer, and yet we still frame and model the art in an attempt to construct an agreed upon description that cannot be crossed or challenged. The common language that helped build a “human society” actually brought about Homophily groups and economic utilitarian boundaries. It is indeed necessary to ask whether art creates dialogue or is it entertainment in the era of “housing warehouses” and “children’s warehouses”?

Original author: Ehud Heller

When we are born parents put us in a cage, preventing us from going out the door alone.

When we are in the garden there is a gate and a fence. When we are in school there is a gate and a fence and a guard.

When we are in the army there is a gate and a fence and a guard.

When we are at the university we have a gate, a fence, a guard and doors that close on us.

When we work, we have buildings, built by architects who design high and wide, that divide between us.

We have gender (“man”, “woman”) and we have sexuality (“gay”, “straight”, “lesbian”).

We have friends, a group, a family, educators, principals, commanders, and all have written and unwritten rules of how to behave.

We have roads, sidewalks and signs that tell us where and when to enter.

We have a bank account number, social security number and an identity card number.

We have television and we have news that mediate between us and what we are told should be of interest to us.

We have Facebook, Amazon and Google, whose algorithms rank and organize the reality for us.

We have identity politics, nationality, nationalism or liberalism, religion or lack of religion.

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“Post minimalism art created mainly by American art that dealt with objects, shape reduction, rational and concrete methods, such as measurement, and limits of creation”. Curtesy of Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

We live within lines, a lot of lines that cross each other, opposing each other, some that others paint for us, some of which we draw on ourselves in response to others’ lines (ego, morality, conscience, fear, courage, shyness, those lines of personality, are all … lines!). We do not cross them, these are the limits of the public discourse of what is permissible and what is forbidden, of the interpretation of reality and truth, of “just” and “unjust”, of “ours” and “theirs”.

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The striped shirt that we wear, button on ourselves, our bodies, put ourselves in the form of bars, army uniforms, police uniforms, judges’ uniforms. In general, our dress is a symbol, a frame that betrays us and casts on who we are now and afterwards and before whom we stand and what our social class, freedom (nudity) versus frame. It is not accidental as it seems, it is an image, an archetype we adopt unconsciously, stripes across or along.

We could go on and on, as a person creates images, tries to predict in according to what he was, projects associations according to the seller, fears reprisal, and wants recognition and belonging to the strong group, adopts the behavior of his/her professional or social peer group and more broadly, acts in a structure of swarm intelligence.

Almost all types of organizations around the world operate in a hierarchical (bureaucratic) form, but these physical and imagined boundaries are also the limits of our thinking. It begins at home, continues in school, in college, and everyone prepares us, how not, for “work” and “money”. But let us not forget that financial systems such as FIAT or SWIFT are lines, mechanisms for operating with laws that guide us, consciously and unconsciously, how to behave and think, what to buy and where to live, where is it best to gain education and how to draw, plan and do a “good” job.

But why?

In his documentary “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (2012), Ross Ashcroft describes the human failure. Man is able to adapt to almost any living environment, but the same mechanism that allows him to survive, is also the one that oppresses him. It’s not only the privilege reserved to the elites, those gatekeepers who control through the production system, but the essence of control over the cognitive map, messages that are interpreted not from what is said, but from what has not been said, on which there is no discussion, on which there is no protest.

Four Horsemen — Feature Documentary — Official Version.

Psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich rose against his teacher Sigmund Freud whose approach he saw as a continuation of humans’ capitalist repression. Marcuse claimed that man is frustrated by the civilization that puts him into templates and makes the human into an unconsciously controlled consumer. This prevents him from realizing himself, installs in him an “internal policeman” (we call it self-censorship), that tells what is and what is not, barriers and fears. The establishment put Reich in jail and burned his books, as if erasing his subversive ideas. But history has taught us that the messenger can be killed but not the idea. Followers have grown to Reich that continued to challenge the psychoanalytic society.

But Reich was not quite right to the end, the tendency toward conservatism, as a feeling of unease with ambiguities and favours steadfastness to the point of expressing the need to protect against changes by means of socially protective policies is a result of negativity bias among subjects with sensitivity to nonthreatening stimuli. That is, it is something in our brain structure that has the evolutionary advantage associated with conditioning and acquisition of habits, which is designed to prevent cognitive overload while processing large amounts of information. In other words, there is a reason for us being “lazy” wanting to reside in the comfort zone without being destabilized and forcing us to change location or learn something different that undermines the existing worldviews.

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Neurocircuitry schematic of Addiction (source: Koob GF). The dopamine system is responsible for addiction and the need to be socially liked and thus follow norms (unless doing so is the norm and the society reward for it, but this does not happen in reality and certainly not in conservative culture that does not foster innovation which challenge consensus).

But there is another very important mechanism in this story, which results in a social desirability bias but comes from the mesolimbic system that is responsible for the Reward Center and Reinforcement while regulating dopamine levels. We want to do things that cause us happiness and not suffering (although there are some that suffering causes them pleasure :-)). The more we meet the standards that society tells us are acceptable, the more positive responses we receive (such as in social networks) that are essential to our motivation, the more we conform to society (the hidden message). This contributes to an improvement in our social, economic and symbolic status (survival).

Few are the people who are willing to pay the price and go against the conventions, most of them will be the “exceptions”, those that society from the start does not really accept them, and when they are excluded from the framework, they see the whole picture, they are the ones that create innovation, who undermine what is acceptable since they have nothing to lose. They are the ones who see a different reality since they are unable to adapt to the existing one. They are the ones who do not get up early in the morning, work late, use non-standard and creative language on the brink of sharp expression. You can learn more about this in an article published in the British Guardian that those who are not conformists tend to be more intelligent. It’s not that they’re “not ok”, they’re fine, just in a different way :-).

In Eitan Capital, they are the ones we seek most, they are the ones we believe will bring the NeXT bIG NExT.

|| This article is available also in PDF version for Hebrew and English

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