Blog archive October 2012
in 2005 in an email exchange nic hughes wrote:
The Augustine quote is probably my favourite at the moment. (He's so quotable!) It was written in a sketchbook by a mate of mine 10 years ago. I only understand what it means now. The idea that God is essentially unknowable and totally "other". So anything we use to represent God or describe God will always fall short. If we understand it, by definition, it's not God. He and all the other apophatic writers are always suspicious of the imagination, as its language is still constructed from the images of the "real world". They're all about a journey of "in" and "up", collapsing language in the process, and meeting with God.
I like the quote so much because it challenges the very idea that the visual arts can be used in any meaningful way in worship. Let alone a site dedicated to the exploration of spirituality and aesthetics. It's one of the key questions I want to tackle. That and the fact that spirituality and design are separated categories in our culture and not considered one.
A visual apophatics is an interesting place to begin exploring.
naturally i replied:
I only understand what it means now. The idea that Nic is essentially unknowable and totally "other". So anything we use to represent Nic or describe Nic will always fall short. If we understand it, by definition, it's not Nic. He and all the other apophatic writers are always suspicious of the imagination, as its language is still constructed from the images of the "real world". They're all about a journey of "in" and "up", collapsing language in the process, and meeting with Nic.
jesting aside, nic was a guide and touchstone for me. he showed me many things that i needed to know, that i doubt i would have known [or would have known much later] without him. he forced me to take my design interests seriously. all the design work i have done since meeting him has been done with an eye on what he's up to, wondering what he thinks, hoping that he'll at least not wholly disapprove. in the future i will be a little more blind.
in nic's honour, and so you can see his work if you don't already know it, i put a set of his stuff together on flickr. this is certainly not all of his work, nor probably even the best, it's just some of what i happen to possess. it pulled me along in its wake. in his design work for abundant, grace and vaux, nic broke away entirely from religious clichés. his work for vaux had a modernist rigour [stylistic and philosophical] that was genuinely groundbreaking and formed an essential part of vaux's impact. no church had ever presented itself this way.
so it also seems natural to give him a dedication and a page on smallfire.org
above, laika motif. nic was always fascinated by the myth of laika, the idea that the little dog sent into space with no way back is still up there somewhere, watching over us.
electronic music and visuals event at the hackney empire. a tip-off from tim westcott. funny how i need people on the other side of the planet to tell me what's going on in london.
this is just one section of the murcof/geilfus set, the generative visuals were very different in different sections:
and byetone aka olaf bender played his current album symeta with added hardness and visuals that confused the autofocus on my camera:
other visuals played with white noise like your grandmother's tv had gone very badly wrong, but was just ahead of its time. naturally the titanic bass is missing from these recordings.