Sunday, May 19, 2013

Landscape of Everything oil on linen 80 x 140 cm

I really like the car enthusiast show Top GearThe reason I do is that I am on, what is transpiring to be, a multiple year search for THE right new car. I started looking about 8 years ago, when my car was about 14 years old. That's right, it is now nearly 22.

My station wagon. AND, I love it because it has plenty of room for my paintings. I can easily carry my 120 x 160cm paintings in the back, as well as my 90 x 180cm ones. Anything longer than 180cm goes on the roof racks...only for short open highway driving...and yes I wrap them tight. I can pack my car with an entire exhibition of variously sized paintings...around 24 of them!

So....I want a car that carries my paintings, but as the years have passed, station wagons and many SUVs and 4 wheel drives have shrunk. PLUS, the designers have sloped car rear ends, so that the inside back space is dramatically diminished. AND, visibility is also. WHY, OH WHY?!

My Volvo has a strong square back and I can stack and stack...easily. But, even Volvo has taken to sloped backs in their later model cars and SUVs!

In Jeremy Clarkson's vehicle review in the Weekend-End Australian A Plus 4-5 May [page 15] he wrote about a journey he made in a 1999 BMW 5281wagon. The journey was across Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. He made a strong argument for not giving up on your old car!

He made another short remark that made me giggle.

He wrote about the 1999 BMW:
Yes, it wasn't equipped with other modern features such as parking sensors, but I solved that when 
maneuvering by simply looking out the windows.

Well, I had to laugh. I tell my children that people have to be careful not to abdicate their brains to technology because come the apocalypse [natural disaster, space debris hitting an important satellite or whatever] when GPS systems, computers and a plethora of other technology stops working, people won't have the practical skills to survive...OR... even think to simply look out the windows, literally and metaphorically!

I get told...Mum you're so weird...! Yes, but I can parallel park, without parking sensors....first go!

I may be weird, but if people don't look out the windows what skills, of all kinds, are we losing? And, from an artist's point of view what will we miss and what will we have to do to get people to look at our work? I imagine a future where people 'look' at 'art' with media devices embedded into their glasses... or even implants, while their driverless car sweeps across landscapes that no-one sees. I suspect short-sightedness [literal and metaphoric] will be a problem...but maybe only if people think, or are lead to believe, they do not need to look out the windows. Conspiracy?

And, what about not needing to look in the rear vision mirror* that's also a powerful metaphor!

Regular readers know of my fascination with perspective, distance and cosmology. But, I sense a collision between dexterous visioning of perspective and a myopic romance with the kind of technology that purports to be 'helping' by making it seem unnecessary for us to look out the windows.

In an age where cosmological research is discovering more and more about the close and far distances of the Universe [Multiverse] a population afflicted with myopia will not be a great asset! Navel gazing never has been. What would be preferable is a dexterous ability to see multiple perspectives, even simultaneously. No, not a driverless car kind of programming, but a human capacity that embraces all aspects of imagination and practicability. The kind of capacity that stretches boundaries in all directions.

The image of someone sitting in a driverless car, not ever having to look out the windows [which are probably tinted black anyway] is a powerful metaphor. AND imagine if there are a number of people in the car...all being 'entertained' by technological devices, embedded or not. No-one talks, no-one looks out the windows...the physical boundaries of the car are obvious and are the imaginational ones. The screen is mistaken as a window. The boundaries are crushing.

I hasten to add I am not anti-technology per se. I grew up in a house where we always had the latest and greatest new Dad is a HAM amateur radio enthusiast...need I say more?! After decades of exposure to technology and seeing how people relate to it, I do not see it as the proverbial 'lolly shop' of sweetness.

Yes, and I 'get' the irony of me writing this on a computer screen and you reading it on a screen of some kind.


*Posted Jan 2014: I have subsequently written a post

and added May 2014

Above is a photograph taken in 1979 by my brother Wilfred Brimblecombe [copyright]. [He was up a tree] It is the main farmhouse on our parent's grain farm, our childhood home. The place was sold about 25 years ago. Notice the small hut-like building on the right of the main house. This was my Dad's HAM shack, full of all kinds of electronics and in latter years, computer equipment. Also, notice the tall aerial just in front of the HAM shack...its various antennae sent and received many a communication. This included getting a signal from Sydney so we could watch the TV Dad made in the early 1960s - long before many Queenslanders had access to television. The tall aerial was transported to my parents' new home when they retired.


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