Feeling My Age

Getting older has its drawbacks – but it's a lot better than the alternative.

The Order of Things

August 27, 2013 Feeling My Age

From Acts Of Knowledge - click to visit site
Illustration & commentary used with grateful acknowledgement to Acts of Knowledge:
a collaborative project with John Morgan, Bill Macmillan, Lori Lee, Aschoy Collective

Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge is a Chinese Encyclopedia described by Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986), in which animal are categorised into 14 types:

(a) belonging to the Emperor
(b) embalmed
(c) tame
(d) sucking pigs
(e) sirens
(f) fabulous
(g) stray dogs
(h) included in the present classification
(i) frenzied
(j) innumerable
(k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush
(l) et cetera
(m) having just broken the water pitcher
(n) that from a long way off look like flies

This classification – says the Acts Of Knowledge website – explores the arbitrariness (and cultural specificity) of any attempt to categorize the world and  demonstrates an “other” to our system of thought. In Michel Foucault‘s book “The Order of Things“, he explicates an “archaeological” investigation of knowledge acquisition; he also comments on the fragility of our current means of understanding the world. For Foucault reasoning is the ultimate act of control, delivered through the power of representation to confirm an objective order.

Acts of Knowledge begins with a text found in an old social studies text used in U.S. classrooms. This educational text delivers a structural form of knowledge and a series of narratives about the similar and the other. Acts of Knowledge uses the primary forms of knowledge – the encyclopedia – to question the structure imposed by reasoning. In that context, the acts of estrangement and the visual structuring of the dictionary and the encyclopedias through collages questions the categorization, knowledge, and the arbitrariness of otherness.

To view more of the artworks, visit Acts Of Knowledge

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