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Visual Thesis

Calendars

A Matter of Time

calendaru

Toongootook and Ikseegah

Baker Lake
Calendar 1971
Print Stonecut, black
9 1/4" x 9 1/4", edition of 50.

"In a key passage from one of the most influential books of our times The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, T. S. Kuhn bridged the disciplinary gap between visual representation and conceptual innovation when he used the famous gestalt illusion of the duck-rabbit as a primary symbol for the meaning and nature of scientific revolution: "It is as elementary prototypes for these transformations of the scientist's world that the familiar demonstrations of a switch in visual gestalt prove so suggestive. What were ducks in the scientist's world before the revolution are rabbits afterwards." Shearer and Gould.

Western thinking, which is predominately linear and analytical, is inadequate for a full appreciation of the work of Inuit artists with their multi-layers of meaning and visual puns.

calendarAn excellent example is the circular, invertible smiling/sad calendar created by Toongooktook and Ikseegah which uses a visual pun to suggest the changing faces of weather. (Inuit Land Use). The visual reading of this suggests time as a circular phenomenon. Indeed Inuit calendars are circular. Months are named after traditional activities related to the time of year.

George Swinton noticed how Inuit artists compress multiple ideas, structures or events into one graphic form. ( Swinton 1971-2:94). Jean Blodgett develops this idea further, rooting syncretistic vision, evident in the mutability of artistic forms, in the Inuit world view with its highly interdependent relationship of man and his environment. Humans become spirits, shamans, animals, or constellations.(Blodgett 1979:77).

The well-known example of this integration of opposing events and spatial orientation is the incised image of a caribou on the ROM antler knife collected in 1920. The same caribou can be seen either with its head raised and alert or grazing.

One of the most sophisticated uses of multiperspectival, nonlinear imagery is in the work of Inuit artist, Jessie Oonark.

  • Shearer, Rhonda Roland and Gould, Stephen Jay (ESSAY ON SCIENCE AND SOCIETY: Of Two Minds and One Nature"




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    Maureen Flynn-Burhoe 2000. Last updated web design (not content) February 2002.
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