29 December 2009

Straight Away


  1. What struck me most about this was the way the image plays with the title. 'Straight away', of course means 'at once' and 'immediately'. But I think there is a pun here. It we do say the words at once and immediately, without any pause, then we get 'straightaway':

    "Extending in a straight line or course without a curve or turn"

    However, the arrows which make up the detail of the composition and provide 'the direction of the movement' are all curved or turned...

    What is going on here? I think a suggestion is provided by a term which I have once heard: 'the arrow of time'... From Wikipedia:

    In the natural sciences, arrow of time, or time’s arrow, is a term coined in 1927 by British astronomer Arthur Eddington used to distinguish a direction of time on a four-dimensional relativistic map of the world, which, according to Eddington, can be determined by a study of organizations of atoms, molecules, and bodies.

    From the 1928 book The Nature of the Physical World, which helped to popularize the term, Eddington states:

    “ Let us draw an arrow arbitrarily. If as we follow the arrow we find more and more of the random element in the state of the world, then the arrow is pointing towards the future; if the random element decreases the arrow points towards the past. That is the only distinction known to physics. This follows at once if our fundamental contention is admitted that the introduction of randomness is the only thing which cannot be undone. I shall use the phrase ‘time’s arrow’ to express this one-way property of time which has no analogue in space."

    What does this mean of the image? Clearly, the classical pose alludes to our western tradition of imagery. We are in a sense looking back. So even when inspiration hits, there is no direct or immediate way the artist can work - the result is always mediated by history. Significantly, the arrows are all pointing down or backwards - the slope of the shoulder - the one arrow potentially going forwards, falls down through the result of gravity...

    The direction of time is being reversed. The kind of spontaneity that 'straight away' suggests is being challenged by the movement of direction which is revisionist.

    I think it is also very interesting that the image is of a boy. The boy is often described in our culture as rash and is perhaps the figure of spontaneity and immediacy - 'uncultured' as it were. The kind of artistic contemplation on the role of tradition amidst innovation is thereby exaggerated.

    An interesting hybrid of classical imagery and perhaps a comment on the way that computer technology may potentially restrict the artist in us. Drawing the arrow and flow charts is after all the most artistic thing that most office workers do! The arrow is kind of a stock art thing/substitution for people that can't draw. However, it is used in this image in a special and very different kind of way.

    What is striking about the arrow is that we use it to point out something. In this case, the majority of the arrows are pointing at the boy's brain (and perhaps, his heart). I think there is a comment here on the consciousness and the emotions and the way they moves and shift about as well - even with the weight of history behind us...

  2. No wonder illustrator crashed the first time I tried to make this image! It was just "too much", lol. Love the link to office workers. BTW, the sculpture is Greek, spending all that time in the British Museum has paid off!

  3. P.S. Perhaps this is a good tool to use in illustrating the head or the heart...