As a species, we have managed to survive by processing matter, transforming nature, adapting ourselves to the world, and constantly striving to adapt the world to our needs. The innate drive to interpret the visible, record the majesty of nature, and with it, the feeling of utter awe in the face of the sublime is as much a survival tool as any.
To record and preserve immediate reality and paint the walls of their caves, early humans had to decide it was all worth the effort; that what stood before them was so rare, so impressive and moving that it could not, should not, be forgotten. There is a particular understanding of time and continuity defining the relationship between man, reality, and image, one marked by the hope that life will prevail, and whoever comes next to inhabit the cave should be prepared, instructed on what to expect from the world outside. Creation is, in this case, interpretation. The shape of the unknown, of the brand new, is retraced, imprinted from memory on a harder surface, given a name and a story that will probably travel with it for ages to come. The matter of experiencing the world – art, ideas, nature, development – through similar instances of reproduction and interpretation raises the question of scrutiny, of discernment, and choice. With the rise of serial and mass reproduction, it´s worth considering the similar reproduction of experiences: a new way of thinking about creativity and uniqueness; a new way of being in awe, of considering and executing the recording of reality – not with one image on a cave wall, but with innumerable images on countless surfaces.
Mass media set the stage for fiction and reality to be intermingled, often used interchangeably, as a consequence of blind trust in technological progress and a strong desire for authenticity. We crave the satisfaction of having our expectations met by what the media serve us; we proudly pat each other’s shoulders when biases and prejudices are confirmed. The category of truth is placed at the meeting point of expectation and representation of reality, a zone where satisfactory and graspable notions can be shaped and reshaped to fit what the human mind already defined as “natural” or “true.” Who really wants to go out of the cave anymore? Beasts of all kinds have already been seen, feared, studied, and tamed. A sign of progress is to consume their reproduced image on the various screens and reproduction surfaces available to us, rather than go out and face them, truly see, hear, and fear for ourselves.
With PETRIe Misinterpretation, we push ourselves out of any comfortable caves we might inhabit, and look for the beasts running wild. The many evils of our world today emerge partly from systematic miscommunication and misinterpretation; from egocentric and intolerant worldviews. We aim to peel the layers of myths, signs, and knowledges covering the reality we inherit, perceive, and decode, as we propose a more mindful and open consideration of the process of decoding itself.
Words: Elena Stanciu
Cover Image: Pietà, 1996 by Angus Fairhurst.