woensdag 29 april 2009

In my search for a personal attraction in the city of Amsterdam, one of the first things that caught my eye was the sunset, reflected by the bigger buildings of the city. The beautiful colors of this light and the warmth that it seems to spread represent for me a feeling of happiness that stands on it’s own. No matter what the environment looks like, the sunset turns it into a place that can compeed with fairytale-like locations that exist only in my imagination.
It is not only the sunlight though, that makes me dream away. For a long time now I have had a fascination for skyscrapers and cityscapes. It is therefore no coincidence that I photographed the sun setting on the buildings near the WTC.
What it it about these phenomenons that makes me look at them in awe?

(Image on the right: Francisco Goya, the sleep of reason brings forth monsters. Image 43 of his Caprichos (1799)

The fascination for the sun and her light is as old as mankind. It is part of our long search to understand and grasp nature as a whole.
People were especially interested in the great powers of nature during the period of Romanticism in the 18th and 19th century. They felt a deepened appreciation for nature’s beauties. Romanticism can be called a reaction against ratio-focused neo-classisism and to some extend to the Enlightenment in the 18th century. In stead of concentrating on rationality, order and harmony, the romanticist would stress the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the emotional, the visionary, the personal and the transcendental. During Romanticism there furthermore existed an enlarged interest for anything out of the ordinary;
folk culture, the weird, the mysterious, the occult, the monstruous, inner struggles, passion and feelings of astonishment and even of horror. Over all the romantic human being could be said to be longing for the unknown: the exotic, the feared and the overwhelming.
Could it be that this Romanticism still exists somewhere inside us 21st-century people? Could my feeling of being in awe when looking at the big and powerful be coming from this old romantic notion?
In the end it could be that I am indeed hopelessly romantic in this sense. I want to be amazed and maybe shocked a little.

(Image on the left: The Little Girl Giant. Video performance by European street theatre group Royal de Luxe (2006). Image on the right: miniature fly on my sketchbook)

The Great Awe

How can I communicate the feeling I myself experience when looking at the sun going down on one of the impressively large buildings in Amsterdam? This feeling of being overpowered by both nature and human construction?
I would like to try and use the Romantic characteristics mentioned above to trigger something (anything!) in the onlooker. To let him look at a building that would otherwise be considered as not interesting or ugly.
I could tell people when the buildings look nice; at dawn. Or could there be a way to emphasize the (relative) hugeness of both the phenomenons?

I’m digging into the Romantic history and my own imagination, and through Goya, the BFG (Roald Dahl) and the image above brings me to the idea of creating a new life form on the buildings around WTC.
No horrific creatures, but recognizable human- or animal like beings that bring the dense, reflective buildings to life...
Maybe it could even be an idea to enlarge the smallest of Amsterdam’s inhabitants to connect us back to nature in the single most cultivated area of the city.

(Looking at the skyscraper creatures)

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