Saturday, May 7, 2011

Abstract landscapes - Lovecraft index

During a walk through Waddinxveen I saw a small Chinese vase standing on a windowsill. An object without artistic value but the illustration caught my eye. A simple landscape - reeds in the background, birds in the sky and a tiny man in a tiny boat on a lake.

It brought back a stream of childhood memories. You could dream yourself away in those tiny landscapes on vases, plates and playing cards. These schematic, abstracted landscapes had more power than photographs.

Chateau Ventenac
Chateau Coulon
You can find the same landscapes on wine bottles. Dreamy hills and castles overlooking the vineyards. Quiet and static. Their stories are slow and grounded to the spot - spanning millennia - consistent with the views of Fernand Braudel.
Piatnik - Salzburger Einfachdeutsche - 36 Blatt - Nr. 32
Piatnik - Doppeldeutsche - 33 Blatt - Nr. 1884
Piatnik - Tarock - 54 Blatt - Nr. 34
For some reason Central European playing cards contain many of these strange landscapes. Gravestones, statues, castles and enigmatic scenes. The scenes look folkloric and historical. There must be some scientific explanation of the iconography. I guess they date back to the 1800 Rococo or Biedermeier styles. But I have not researched this.
AGM Urania - Rider Tarot - Art. No. 12.387
The famous Rider-Waite tarot deck from 1909 contains many abstracted landscapes in it's backgrounds. These tiny landscapes enhance the mysterious effect of these symbolic images.

Could we enhance this effect and translate it to our daily surroundings? Remodel the daily walk to the supermarket into a dangerous adventure. Decompile the suburban parking lot into unexplored alien terrain. Some people have tried it before. It has been done by the surrealists - in the paranoiac-critical method:

 ... by simulating paranoia one can systematically undermine one's rational view of the world, which becomes continually subjected to associative transformations, "For instance, one can see, or persuade others to see, all sorts of shapes in a cloud: a horse, a human body, a dragon, a face, a palace, and so on. Any prospect or object of the Physical world can be treated in this manner ... The point is to persuade oneself or others of the authenticity of these transformations ... The mad logic of Dali's method leads to a world seen in continuous flux ... in which objects dissolve from one state into another, solid things become transparent, and things of no substance assume form. 

My aim is not so brutal. I do not search for obvious transformations but for unexpected layers of imagination projected on top of reality "as is". For example ... it is possible to give a "Lovecraft index" to any place you find yourself in:
  • Rotterdam - Lovecraft index = 6
  • Delft - Lovecraft index = 7.5
  • Dordrecht - Lovecraft index = 8
  • Schiedam - Lovecraft index = 9

I will provide evidence in future blog posts. Of course the index is fractal. There always exist high-index regions inside of low-index regions. 


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