Digital figures, part 1. – Emancipated to death

About the series

At a point of time, when, on my pictures, human figures and the thoughts on human existence gained more and more importance, it happened that there were no models available, to contribute to the creative process. This point (or period 🙂 ) of time roughly covered the point (or period 🙂 ) of time when I was searching for 3D modeling software capable of modeling human figures – or, it is possible that I was searching for such software so that I could place human figures on my pictures in the lack of a real human model. 🙂

I actually found a program with the help of which, I could place more or less (sometimes less) human-like creatures on my pictures, in any desired postures. These figures were processed through distortion effects and alloyed with textures, by using image editing software. I think that the resulting images are peculiar, mysterious, bizarre and thought-provoking. So, that is how the image series entitled Digital figures was created. These images depict visual metaphores of human (and other) creatures, and short, dense, allegoric stories.

You can see the full series here.

Emancipated to death

The concept of emancipation emerges from (Roman) civil law, and originally meant the cessation of paternal authority over the child. In the modern era, emancipation means that we treat minorities (racial, ethnical or religious) as equal. Emancipation of women aims the equality of women in society, including the right to vote, education, work, and many other areas of life.

The process of the emancipation of women is, however, antinomic in a way, and definitely leads to dubiety and questions. No intelligent human being would doubt that the two genders represent equal value. But it would be foolish to deny that, in an evolutionary, biological and historical sense, women and men naturally specialized in different areas of life during the formation and development of human society, culture, and civilization.

In indigenous communities, heavy or dangerous tasks, like hunting or fighting and defending the tribe were undertaken by males. Later, it remained men’s task to ensure the subsistence of the family, however, there has always been a certain division of labour between the two genders (for instance, women took part in gathering food or certain agricultural activities). Still, the most natural and traditional area of women’s activities work was the home, the house, including one of the biggest responsibilities: taking care of and growing up children. Those tasks bear incredible importance for human culture. The quality of a young life determines the nature and standard of the “primary commodity” of culture and civilization. The emotional setting and environment, created by a mother during the first years of children’s life, has utmost importance and largely influences later years.

I wish that women would be free to choose any field of knowledge, any path of life, any profession. I wish they could set any aim, and that they would enjoy total freedom in self-fulfilment. However, I would like to mention that, so far, the emancipation process has gone through some distortion and has led to scrupple and queries.

1. Women’s massive influx in the labour-market, unfortunately, was not primarily based on their free decisions. It was induced by economic pressure and necessitation, especially after the two World Wars. Men happened to be so inconceivably mindless that they managed to exterminate many million members of their own gender. The void thus created in the labour market (sorry for the detached wording) needed to be filled – and that’s what women had to do. This is by no means self-fulfilment, I think. This is the shameful result of human idiocy.

2. So, the labour market opened for women, partly because of the pressure described above. This, and other economical processes profoundly rearranged the distribution of tasks among women and men; even the concept of the family was redefined in a sense. The multicore, multi-generational family model has disappeared or at least got forced back. Dual-earner families became the standard. Though society has adapted to the new circumstances, we can not say that women have won in the game. In this new situation, they are required to fulfil their original tasks (namely, housekeeping and taking care of children) IN ADDITION to working in a profession. Obviously, there are many families where this situation is handled well and successfully. Day nurseries and kindergartens can also offer some help. Still, I am unable to get rid of the sucpicion that, hiding under this new, “modern” look of the world, there are ongoing processes that do harm to the intellectual, emotional and spiritual components of our culture. Look at this rampant consumerism, look at this modern slavery. Kids today surely spend less time in emotionally healthy and benevolent settings, but definitely spend more time with gadgets or consuming media garbage. It is also rightful to ask: these days, what can we say about the quality of the time parents can spend with their children? Few are so lucky that their job is the deeply desired self-fulfilment, too. Also very few people would consider their workplace to be an island of serenity. It can be an enormous task to, despite all the tension and stress, fill the time spent with children with meaningful content and positive emotions. If the mayhem done to the traditional social institution of the family wasn’t enough, even family itself began to disappear. Living single is more and more prevalent. In spite of the social media madness, loneliness, isolation and alienation is what I see. In the eyes of the maniacs eager for money and power, women, men, children and family are nothing but target groups.

3. Finally: do you think the emancipation of women has come true? Well, only partially, so far. Surely, you can see brilliant women in all areas, some of them prooved to be successful managers and leaders, others are great professionals and scientists. And it is heartwarming to see that they are the true champions of professions that require empathy and advanced emotional intelligence, like health-care or pedagogics. But, if we look into statistics, it will be clear that, in average, both women’s chances on the labour market and their salaries are significantly lower than those of men.

I wish the nicer half of humanity could freely choose any course of life. At the same time, though I’m sort of disillusioned, it would be great to see mankind inventing something more human than this world of alienation, impersonality and consumer slavery. It would be also great to help mothers fulfil their motherly role. Before we get emancipated to death.

 

Microverses

“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.” – Alan W. Watts

We, as physical and biological beings, seem small. Still, we represent the complexity of the whole universe. Have you ever thought about how miraculous we really are?

Is there an objective reality around us, that is, at least roughly, the same for all of us? The question may seem trivial and unconcerning to the lazy mind, because it is so easy to just adapt the thought that things are just the way they are, without seeking deeper answers.

But let’s see how we, human beings, form a picture of the physical world in our consciousness. Humans have five traditionally recognized senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Beyond those, we are also able to detect other stimuli, and these sensory modalities include temperature, kinesthetic sense, pain, balance, vibration, and various internal stimuli.

All that we perceive of the physical world can be traced back to physical (quantum mechanical and gravitational) interactions between fields and particles of the “outside world” and those constituting our sensory organs and nervous system. The overall picture we form of the world, consisting of objects, living creatures and all sorts of phenomena is often shallow, simplified and generalized. The way this process, our general perception of the world, works, is not a perfect but rather an optimized one, and somewhat necessary, too, as the human mind needs to find a balance and use its resources wisely as it encounters a plethora of tasks every moment, without an endless computational capacity. But that doesn’t mean we can’t sometimes have a deeper look into the workings of nature and contemplate things that are beyond the obvious, below the surface, including our perception, our mind, and our concepts of reality. Let’s take the simple example of how sight works. We all know that, for example, seeing a bird begins with photons from its direction reaching our eyes, the ligt beam they make up goes through the cornea and the lens (among other parts of the eye), to be focused on the retina that transforms it into an electric signal which is transported via the optic nerve to the cerebral cortex in the brain, where specialized groups of neurons create the picture for our consciousness.

Thus, the picture we see, despite how we tend to interpret reality, is NOT outside in the bright sunlight. It is created in total darkness; deep inside the brain. Of course, that does not deny the bird’s existence in the “real” world. But we can ask, for example, in what way is the outside world more real than the picture (or concept) our mind and consiousness creates? Or, we can ask, whether we could make any difference between a world that behaves like we believe our world does, or a world in which the electromagnetic waves reaching our sensory organs are artificially created by an unknown intelligence, to engage our minds in a perfect and total simulation? Further, how can we be sure that our sensory organs and maybe all our inner reality, are not simulated? So the above simple line of thoughts may lead to contemplating the concepts of objective and virtual reality, illusion, deception, self-deception, just to name a few.

After this lengthy introduction, let me advert to the subject of the picture above and the contemplation below. This subject is the littleness and greatness of the human being. Who are we, highly conscious, individual, yet interconnected creatures? How is it that, despite our fallible nature, we are able to transcend ourselves?

I chose the expression Microverses as the title of the image above because it neatly describes the dual nature of human existence. On the one hand we, as physical beings, are incredibly small, at least in comparison to the inconceivably large structures we have discovered and continue to discover in the observable universe. On the other hand, if there is something more miraculous and inconceivable than quasars, galaxy clusters and Great Walls, then it is the way how matter has turned conscious, the way how “the universe looks back on itself through our eyes”. In the conscious mind of a human being, in a certain sense, there’s room for the entire universe. And that’s how great creations we are, despite being seemingly small within the whole of this Creation.

As we established previously, our body, viewed as an individual biological system, is not so large. An ant might see this otherwise. But our body is definitely an enormously complex system. Regarding just the pure numbers, the number of cells making up the human body is estimated to be somewhere between 5 trillion and 200 trillion, three orders of magnitude more than the number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is estimated to fall between 100 billion and 400 billion. The human brain itself consists of at least 100 billion neurons, roughly as many as the stars in our galaxy. These numbers are mind-blowing. And, at least to me, it is impossible to grasp the intricacy of all the complex physical, chemical and biological processes that constantly take place inside us.

Let’s see the question of our exiguousness and greatness from a historical, psychological and spiritual viewpoint, too. We, as individuals, as biological creatures, are programmed for survival. Evolutionary competition and the race for resources works through selfishness. We seek victory over other individuals, and groups of human beings seek victory over other factions; either food, resources, habitat or competing ideas may be the motivational force behind the contest. In the process, we commit the most horrible acts imaginable. No evil action exists that has not yet been invented and carried out by humans. On the other hand, we depend on each other strongly. Communities, the members of which supported each other and united their forces, provided shelter, protection, education for all members of the group. And these groups, while fostering survival, helped develop supportive behaviour, emotional bonds and the concept of togetherness. Exercising help and support sometimes led to such extreme outcome as, for instance, sacrificing one’s life to save another, or to aid the whole group. The best known example of the ultimate sacrifice is that of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to save all of us.

So, while we are often selfish, cruel and destructive, we also have the potential to be rightful, to love and to cooperate. Though there are tendencies in the world that can have sour conseqences, I see hope, too. I think it is mankind’s greatest task today to find the ways of cooperation, to accomplish even greater tasks like saving our planet, put down poverty, decrease inequalities regarding access to information, material and cultural benefits. Just think of how the Internet has become a powerful means of sharing knowledge, rearranging resources, getting help and support in may areas of life. I see it as a working model of organizing human minds into a network which works more efficiently and reaches common goals sooner than ever before. It MUST be utilized to an even larger extent so our species could move forward towards safety, well-being, knowledge and prosperity. It may sound like fantasy, but what if human minds, in the future, could unite in an other kind of network, or a common consciousness, by utilizing either future technology or some, presently poorly explored, phenomenon like telepathy? What if quantum phenomena, like entanglement, signal the existence of a deeper level of reality on which we could all become one Gaian consciousness? When we gain sufficient knowledge, will we be able to begin a new era of inhesion as we, the Microverses, come together finally? Maybe, that’s a dream. But dreams may come true one day.

Finally, a couple of words about the picture. I used a street photo I had taken in a crowded underpass at a train station, as the main component of the image. The other components are results of an experiment which took place in my bathroom. I used a laser pointer, low shutter speed and a tripod. I drew the word ME on the bathroom mirror with the laser pointer. My shadow can be seen near the border of the image on the right side. The red and white dots, lines and splotches are also derived from the laser pointer’s light, and symbolize subatomic particles and their collisions. Some of these splotches are symbols of vibrating “strings”, which, according to string theory, can be the very basic elements of matter, even smaller than “quantum” scales.

Dear Reader, thank you for your attention, I wish you a Merry Christmas and happy winter holidays.