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A talk given by The Inquisition at Defuse, on Wednesday 7th November 2012, as part of Designweek in Dublin, Ireland
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This is a talk given by The Inquisition at Defuse, on Wednesday 7th November 2012, as part of Designweek in Dublin, Ireland
Mobile communications are changing the way we consume and create information. No doubt. We will do things outside, that we once only did inside. We have crossed this divide before.
Lets start at the beginning. We went inside. This change was ultimately to be permanent, so we started to decorate the place, make ourselves at home, graffiti it a bit, and prove ourselves capable of higher order thought.
That was for the living. The dead went outside, for reasons of hygiene, because populations were mobile and also to set their spirits free. This tradition has also been relatively permanent.
This is Catal Huyuk, one of the earliest known agricultural settlements. These people liked their dead so much they brought them inside, keeping them literally under the floorboards.
It caught on, to an extent. In Jericho they went further, keeping their dead indoors for display. They plastered and decorated their fleshless skulls.
Here in the west we have brought our dead inside too. Saints’ relics are kept on display. It may be done less frequently now, but for centuries bits of them have been paraded in reliquaries designed to stop them decomposing while on the move.
For most of its history, art was an indoors craft. It moved outside. Monet was the most famous to ditch his studio to work en plein air, not representing the world but painting an experience of it.
Rembrandt shows the breaking of conventions here by having Susana bathe outside. But this outside is a very enclosed space, making the elders seem to be the ones trespassing.
Roman art had already broken the boundary. Emperor Augustus’ wife Livia brought the outside in. In the stifling summer heat she could lounge in this sheltered space, imaging herself outside.
Roman performance also brought in the greater outside world. Circuses were sometimes filled with water for special events called Naumachia, or sea battles. These were more often than not victory celebrations.
We go inside to feel safe. Henry Moore here recounts being down in the depths of the London Underground during the Blitz. Bodies are cadaverous and the scene itself is sepulchral.
Sometimes inside is not safer. Doctors drove people indoors, out of the miasma, during the Black Death. This inflated contagion rates, ultimately making the plague worse.
Indoors used to be a sign of luxury, of a pampered life of leisure, away from the common duties of being outside working. Paler skin meant less exposure, as in the case of Boucher’s Mademoiselle O’Reilly.
Now, the converse is true. Being bronzed and outdoors is the modern signification of having plenty of constraint-free, wealth and leisure time.
Now we control the world we can turn it inside out for our purposes. Open-top mining, involves tearing or exploding a mountain top open, to bring the core out, where excavation can move from inside out.
We are all familiar with the idea of battery farming, especially with regard to poultry. What we may not realise is that there are a growing number of farms where larger animals such as cows never seen the outside world.
We are even beginning to protect the outside world by bringing it inside. In Svalbard the Global Seed Vault is dedicated to protecting all flora in seed form, to be used in the event of a global breakdown.
Our control has become ridiculous. We now have apline-style skiing indoors, in the Middle East. Indoors can give us control over our environment that we cannot have outside.
Sometimes the outside world can seem daunting, scary even. Monica Bonvicini certainly thought so when, with some one-way glass, she brought our most solitary time out into the quasi-open.
George Michael’s paean to his favourite indoor pastime brought outdoors similarly failed to bring about vast societal change. And that’s a good thing.
This article was posted by Ronan McDonnell on
Thursday, November 8th, 2012 at
It is archived in Architecture, Art, Culture, Environment, Health, History, Myth, Religion, Semiotics, Wild Places and tagged .
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