Words

Arts, Arabic, Adventures

Part Five | Environmental Mastery and the Grand Tour

I suspect it’s fair to assume that many Americans following the news this week started and ended each day in a spiral of despair, disgust and disbelief. I'm just beginning to realise the profound effect that being in Doha during the 2016 election had on my relation to nationality, and how it might manifest in my work.

I delved into the topics I had planned on exploring with this in mind, additionally influenced by a meeting I had with one of the professors here. He noted that the minimalist qualities in my drawing reflect an interest, not in simply recording, but in pulling out certain aspects of a scene. He also saw that many of my drawings bear little reference to where they were actually drawn, save the captions, and are arguably "placeless." 

Keyword 1: My search in the direction of "Environmental Mastery" was a bit of a dead end. It led to the same information on Psychological Well-Being, on Ryff, and not much further. I looked briefly into culture shock, then just started googling "how do you adapt to new spaces" or other incarnations of the phrase. There was an interesting Huffpost Article or two, then eventually I hit upon the idea of the "Third Space," as a useful tool in finding happiness in a new place. 

New Keyword 1: The "Third Space" refers to a space between and formed by both the "First Space" (home) and the "Second Space" (work or education). There are many discussions of the meaning and function of this space, but I found Soja's perspective particularly interesting. The notion of a constructed space seemed very fitting in light of my discussions about what a minimalist style meant. In Thirdspace Soja explains his interest in spacial existence, how it can manifest in an understanding not limited to historical or social dimensions. My interest also hinges on his idea that Thirdspace is an-Other, that is, functions outside the binary of Other and Self, freeing me somewhat from the self-centredness of psychology, and more in line with the escape from self-awareness that I find in the drawing process.

Soja devotes a chapter to Foucault's Heterotopia, which I will likely want to read, for which I will begin to mentally prepare now, and perhaps start in May. 

Keyword 2: In class we'd also discussed "The Grand Tour", that is, the tradition in the early 1800s of rich Brits traveling the breadth of Classical Antiquity so they could truly enjoy their white privilege. It was surprisingly difficult to find information on this, but I managed to find a great collection of the travel diaries of Antiquarian Sir Francis Ronalds. At this point I realised I am likely just a British man from the 1800s reincarnated, which didn't surprise me much. 

The Venus of the Café des Mille Colonnes spits into her mouchoir and takes so much snuff that I could not bring my conscience to pay any adorations, so walked off magnanimously resolving to get rid of my absurd english prejudices as quickly as possible.
— Sir Francis Ronalds, 1820

I really enjoyed reading this, but in reference to sketching, I found Ronalds seemed more interested in sketching antiquity and other interesting findings. I also do these things, but they're not the crux of my practice. It gives me ideas for other projects, and I expect keep reading just for the fun of it, but I also have been advised to stay focused, so I will put it aside for now.