Friday, June 18, 2010

Kandinsky's project revisited

Every so often someone comes along to have a go at a classic attempt, in this case Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee's statistical surveys at the Bauhaus trying to determine correlations between color and number and shape. The difference is that this artist in Ormond Beach, Florida has recognized that the correlations will change with culture and history; it isn't entirely biologically or spiritually fixed, even if very few cultures use red to symbolize passionlessness and tranquility or blue to symbolize restless agitation. (The dominant appearance of these colors in the environment may be enough to explain this without resorting to the electromagnetic spectrum. Kandinsky's own announced correlations of shape and color have always felt very odd and wrong to me, however—in sharp contrast to his usages in paintings—so it isn't just sky and blood and fire that shape our visual metaphors.)

Anyway, though I won't take the test myself, I feel inclined to pass this along for those who will:

Public Participation Wanted: Symbolism in Contemporary Western Culture Survey released on internet.

Like our individual signatures or fingerprints, we each see and interpret shape and color differently based on our experiences. Traditionally meanings have varied around the world. Has the diversity of America blended meanings? What are the characteristics that define your beliefs by color, line, shape? Can these elements be isolated? These are some of the underlining questions behind this project by Margaret Schnebly Hodge entitled “Glyph: Visual Interpretations of Contemporary Western Culture”.

Hodge is an artist fascinated by the blending features of contemporary western culture. “I believe that we are born with a primal belief system some refer to as an internal compass which is influenced over time by external forces, becoming a more complex cumulative belief system” says Hodge. “Participants are asked to provide meanings of basic shapes, objects and colors for Hodge to evaluate and discover the meanings in today’s western society. Is it different from our ancestors? Is there a transcendent core universal system?

In an effort to bring visual reality to the intangible values found in public belief systems, Hodge has developed a fun and simple 18 question survey and placed it on the internet. “I believe the survey phase may take up to 6 months in order to get the appropriate number of respondents” says Hodge. Asked why she chose the electronic system she explained “I want to let the project web out to a broad sampling of the public, individual to individual, and not be directed to any specific group of people.”

The survey is the first phase of and creates a foundation for Hodge’s upcoming multimedia project. Go to to find more information on the project and complete the survey free online. Everyone, age 18 or older, who resides at least 6 months of the year within the United States, may participate in the survey. You do not have to subscribe to particular belief systems or be a citizen of the United States and no identifying personal information is required to participate.

Hodge is an award winning artist who resides in Ormond Beach, Florida. She has spent the past 5 years preparing for this project while remaining dedicated to her painting and completing other projects that included public participation. Her 2007 project, Art In the Sunshine, was proposed over the internet and through news media, then allowed to evolve on its own. Over 100 self enlisted artists generated more than 300 pieces of art from old signs that had been illegally placed on roadways. The art was legally installed along 20 miles of roadway for a three month period. This project brought together city, county, not for profit and private partners. For information on the artist go to .

No comments: