Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Spectator of the Spectacular

from a story on NYTimes:
Some beautiful looking healthy (and wealthy looking) men and women are on a hilltop to enjoy some 'beauty' across the distance. Now looking at the spectator's gaze is also a bliss who is looking at something beautiful or mind'blowing'. Here I do remember the Hindi song in Yeshu Dash's voice, "Aaj in nazaron ko tum dekhon, aur mein tumhein dekhte huye dekhun". (Today you keep looking at the visionary/ scenery, and let me look at you looking). 

It is very common in an auditorium where one of the audiences either secretly or openly keep an eye at the fellow audience: an observatory on how the other people are looking at: at whatever they are looking. 

Now the people at the hilltop are onlookers, observers, spectators, eyewitness and bystanders of something spectacular. They resemble the spectators of sunset at a sea beach. There is no difference at the first look between these people and the people in front of Tajmahal, or any other tourist occasions. A look can resemble with a rear window view looking at a cultural procession or any traditional spectacular act like Jagannath's Rathayatra. But more than the looks in front of a monument, the looks are similar to the looks of a time-bound event: including the sunset, a football or a cricket match.
Daumiere's Spectators

Daumiere's Spectators
Now these are spectators of the bombardment at Gaza, they gathered at the hilltop to eyewitness the events that would remain a life-time achievement for them. It is on the basis of a story published in NYTimes on 14th July 2014, "Israelis Watch Bombs Drop on Gaza From Front-Row Seats".

The spectacularity of the Gaza bombarding fulfilled several aspects to fulfill the consumer-spectator: first, the visual impression that breaks the horizon across the distance; second, the 'ownership' of a gaze that is 'original' and 'authentic'; third, the power that the act of looking gives.  

Looking at the World's First Under water Atomic Explosion
Looking at the Atomic Explosion
Looking at Atomic Explosion
The spectator seeks for something beyond regular or ordinary and the bombarding fulfilled that. In my school days I was excited to collect images of Chernobyle explosion. The experiments of Atomic explosions ever kept the humanity excited.  The war, in fact, were ever spectacular throughout the history. The overwhelming descriptions of numerous types of weapons and their disasters in the Mahabharata war, the Pashupat-ashtra, the Brahmastra or others are examples for that. In the second point, even more effectively than the visual part, the pleasure of seeing something with own eyes, and being a witness of some original, claiming the authenticity of when and where it was/is happening, claims its historical magnitude. On the same sense of 'originality' or on a similar claim of 'authenticity' the price of an art work increases. No matter, all are watching it on TV, or may be later in platforms like youtube and so. But people wanted to climb up the hilltop only for the claim. And according to the third point, It is a Cartesian take: It is happening on earth since I see it. I am seeing it because I can see it. I can see it because I can afford to see it.

Other than the above mentioned three aspects, one more point is there: the pleasure of finding and reassembling the resemblances. We see the images from the two world wars and kept our imaginations and fantasy open. We see the images of the freedom-struggle today and keep imagining what might be happening in those days. Now there is a scope given to see something that might occupy pages in history coming ahead. And thus we can put ourselves into our forthcoming generations' imaginations.

And beyond the people at the concerned hilltop, there are we, thousands of us, doing the same on facebook and other mediums. Then we are trying to translate the sadist pleasure in to 'art' idioms.     
Taken from Facebook

Taken from Facebook:

Artist: Amir Schiby, Tribute to Mohammed, Ahed, Zakaria and Mohammed Bakr,
the 4 boys killed on the beach in Gaza on 16/07/2014.
Taken from Facebook

Spectacularity has a common language- from art and culture to everyday life to war-zone. But the meaning might be different. 
Now the same question remains unmovable after Pete Seeger: 
"When will we ever learn?".

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