Image for post
Image for post

“Give a monkey control of its environment, and it will fill the world with bananas. (Moffatt, 1985)” This insightful quote is from an episode of my wife’s favourite TV series, namely Doctor Who. However, I feel this phrase really sums up humanity’s problem with their own environment.

It was likely an inspirational moment when a primordial specimen of our species first discovered the power of tools. One is reminded of the dramatic scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, when an ape learns to kill prey using a dense blunt object (Kubrick, 1968). …

Star Trek: From Picard to Picardo, and back

Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Pete Markham

When I was a child my father used to say, “I can’t watch Sci-Fi. There are too many ray guns, actors with weird makeup and completely unbelievable technologies”. Of course, I felt quite the opposite. I really wanted to see strange, interesting things and let my imagination roam in a proposed technologically advanced human future. In fact, my earliest childhood memory was of sitting in my high chair watching an episode of Lost in Space on the Syfy channel.

Although my father was referring to Sci-Fi in general, it was Star Trek that we were most likely discussing. In the late sixties, this show featuring the human exploration of space by the crew of the Star ship Enterprise attracted huge viewership and publicity. Its pointy-eared character Mr Spock led to “Spockmania” (Burr, 2015) which, in turn, yielded several album releases by Leonard Nimoy. In the original series, some of the worlds have been united into a federation that share democratic goals, for which humans are a peacekeeping force. …

When I was a child, I regarded the world as something of a huge playground, full of exciting possibilities and adventure. Even very simple things like sitting in the garden with my parents in summer are now very nostalgic memories for me, because at the time even the tiniest things were fascinating.

My father, on the other hand, was a strangely shut-in and private man, who often found it difficult to unwind. One notable exception was when he was listening to music which, along with beer, acted as his medication. When under the influence of either beer, or music, it was as if a previously dark and empty corner of his being suddenly came to life. …

“Art for art’s sake is an empty phrase. Art for the sake of truth, art for the sake of the good and the beautiful, that is the faith I am searching for (Ratcliffe, 2011, p.29).” This phrase from Victorian writer George Sand was a response to the trend in the romantic era to celebrate art that does not have or need a purpose. It is a rendering in English of l’art pour l’art, a phrase coined by philosopher Victor Cousin (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1999). This idea continued well into the 20th century and became the basis for formalism, although in recent years the belief that art must have a purpose and an artist must justify what they do has become prevalent. …

In 1960s London, the art scene was booming. Pop art, in particular, was at its height with names like Peter Blake and David Hockney in common usage. Few people would have recognised these names better than Robert Fraser, a famous art dealer and curator of a successful, but short-lived gallery in Marylebone. His friend, Jim Dine, who was one of the many artists he supported, said of him that “He had a feeling for art and danger, and he was wonderful” (Schillinger, 2015). He did indeed have a feeling for danger, which ultimately led to his demise following his imprisonment for possession of heroin in 1967 (Brown, 2015). …

Image for post
Image for post
Figure 1 Paula Schmidt, Hannah-Höch-Gedenkmarke. 1989, photograph. dimensions unknown, (Schmidt, 2018).

Hannah Höch was an artist who embodied the complex, contradictory nature of our world. Her beguiling photomontage work, at casual glance, could resemble the random pasting of a child’s scrapbook. Only a closer look reveals the revolutionary meaning and incisive social commentary for which Höch became justly famed.

Dada, was a revolutionary art movement, instrumental in changing what could be accepted as art, consigning its rulebook to the dustbin of history. However like all revolutionaries they had their blind spots. One of these, shared with the surrealists who followed them, was great reluctance in accepting women into their ranks. A notable exception was Hannah Höch, whose creative accomplishments simply demanded attention. This essay will focus on her work, approached through three frameworks, Feminism, politics and art history, all key influence on her life and struggle for recognition. …

To comprehend the nonsense and subversion of Dada, one must cast one’s gaze much wider than its original founder Hugo Ball and his Dada Manifesto. Dada was a revolutionary response by artists to the atrocity and idiocy of the First World War. The artists involved wanted to focus on every aspect of a society capable of starting and prolonging such destruction. Ironically, their disgust at that idea drove them to cause destruction, at least in a figurative way, by attempting to remove traditional values in art and to develop a new type of art (Tate, 2017). Dada was also anti-bourgeois, anti-authoritarian and anti-hierarchical with political leanings to the radical left (Kuenzli, 2015, p. 14). …

This is an essay about René Magritte, or is it?

“Everything we see hides another thing; we always wish to see what is hidden by what we see” (Magritte, 1979). This is what René Magritte said about his painting The Son of Man. A lot of Magritte’s work seems to focus on this idea. The idea that there are complexities to everything that most people never see because they are obscured by the apparent situation, and the expectations and tunnel vision of others.

Using books, artworks, and translated writings, this essay will look at Magritte and his contradictory nature. This mysterious figure who has a very bourgeois appearance and yet spent his life undermining and subverting bourgeois principles. …


Susan Day

Susan Day is an aspiring writer with roots in musical composition/production and technology.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store