What can and doesn't have to be

Amanda L. S. DeGidio


“What can and doesn’t have to be, at the end, surrenders to something that has to be. - Ivo Andric

Is there such a thing as an objective reality?  It’s one of the oldest philosophical questions- and yet it endures in the face of growing scientific discovery.  Objective reality is prosaic in art theory- it cultivates either fascinating, engaging work or the something truly cliché.  The efficacy of art is to challenge objective reality.  And yet, science often gives us a vocabulary to quantify the sublime.  It’s easy to surrender to the notion that objective reality simply does not exist, that reality is a kind of spectrum with shifting coherences.  On the other hand, we can believe that objectivity is encrypted in the physical environment, with scientific research as the interpreter.  I think most people like to sit in the middle somewhere, considering oneself a critical thinker, open to new realities, yet grounded within the bounds rationality and logic.  Every profound notion has its counterpart in the scientific lexicon, and we choose when to sit on either side of the proverbial line.  Chaos is a very uncomfortable place.  And yet- the concepts of culture, and heritage fundamentally challenge objective reality.  Culture is, after all, the surrender of certain questions of objectivity- a choice to participate in a shared consciousness. And heritage feeds this collective discourse, and gives purpose to social mores.  


Culture gives us the need for synchronicity.  We share through traditions of music, of craft, costume, and of a shared sense of time.  The first physical manifestations of synchronicity are objects that define time- sundials, sculptures, and architecture, which measure and translate astronomy.  There are calendars based on moon cycles, crop cycles, even the gestational cycles of cows.  Many of us now measure time in seconds and fractions of seconds- a kind of time that is adjusted every so often for shifting gravitational angles.  However, when you take away indicators of time, and relate the past through remembered experiences, you create a shared perception of history with the physical landscape.  Detraction can sometimes create a broader spectrum for perception.


Culture is a kind of optical interference.  It’s the lens that filters our experiences and dimensions of understanding.  The instability of experience or inconsistency of perceived realities is hard to conceptualize, since perception is almost immeasurable.  Both light and color are things that delineate perception, and they exist as symbiotic phenomena. Color is either a pigment or microscopic structural pattern, which can only be seen by interaction with light.  Pigment is the existence of a chemical that light either absorbs or reflects. The green we see in plants comes from chlorophyll, which absorbs red and blue light, reflecting green back to our eyes.  While the color of a Blue Morpho butterfly comes from nano-meter (one-billionth of a meter) size structural patterns in their wings, which reflects light that appears to be iridescent blue.  Light is by definition energy- it is both a particle and a wave, and the physical world around us cannot exist without the interaction of light to create shape and form through our vision. 


These theoretical explorations help us think about our experience through parameters essential to the philosophies of objectivity.  The pieces in Slow Zoom explore all of these concepts- testing the boundaries of material and perception. They play with both form and consciousness, reality and knowledge.  As a researcher and historian, I’m drawn to the origin of creative production.  It is impossible to understand the past, or the future without exploring the perceptions which shape our most basic interpretation of the senses.

Culture is a kind of optical interference. It’s the lens that filters our experiences and dimensions of understanding.