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Culture to Cultures

Otherness and Stereotyping.

In the seventies the teachers, (art) teachers taught a technique that would spin the primary colours to make ‘white’ which was perceived and explained as all the colours spun together to create ‘White’. This is what we were taught. Black was the void of all the colours. This created a sense of black and white as being opposites to each other, rather than part of a paradigm of inclusiveness which included primary, complementary colours. They were somehow other. I found black and white to be a favourite as they both seemed strong, they were part of my environment in wallpaper, clothing, work clothes, even the bird life. Often, they were found side by side like pillars. They provided contrast and were often used in design particularly Art Nouveau genre. It was only later that I realised that the concept of black and white is related to race. It was always there, just not on a consciousness level. 

As an adult living within a community where the indigenous population is higher than the national average. I had come across Lucien Freud in my art studies, and it was confirming what my eyes are looking at. We are neither. Looking at photos of the aboriginal ancestors that was truer in the past. Arriving at L.A. airport I had to confront the difference in skin colour between our black and the African American black. In Australia, Sudanese were the only true black people.  I am fascinated by how this can occur, especially as artists who are looking, seeing, and interpreting what is in front of us.  It means revisiting many topics through new or fresh eyes and yes, Vanta is the new Black, although patented.

This ‘Othering’ can occur in many instances including issues relating to people, race, species, including other forms of consciousness such as computers, robots. Computers or robots are currently evolving from simple programs to more complex programs that gazumped previous tasks performed by humans in their employment, are triggering many feelings of otherness due to their abilities to remain impervious to the reactions we humans have regarding situations that affect as strongly.

Occurring later in life can mean that tasks that previously fulfilled needs for employment, income, gender, and community roles simply disappear leaving a void that is required to be filled in some way. We question How do we provide for our needs for income to live our lives. We can question ourselves, our core values and begin to slip through the cracks of our own psyches as well as society's ever-expanding view of itself.  Will we keep up? Can we resolve this new sense of disassociation by retraining: or will replacement, retirement or displacement be our new reality? It is known that the largest group to be displaced are those who did the nurturing, by not fulfilling capitalist need to provide for oneself in some way due to haphazard employment or family lives.

Othering just like Stereotyping– is either sourced within a competitive or fear-based pretext regarding a topic or group that is being perceived or discerned as different to one’s own concepts of reality. Formed from communication and/or learned behaviours that (p5.)  Houghton says that it is both the sensation and preconception that occupy our consciousness at the same time which creates this experience or as I would describe them as deeply embedded ‘seed thoughts’ that occupy these spaces generating as intellectual or emotional response which either ‘confirm or deny relationships between individuals and groups’ Houghton p6.

My drawings relate more to the stereotypical views of people, cultures being more athletic, competitive and connection to sport. Of course, looking at the statistics this is not true either as many communities are still suffering inequities of facilities, and lack of access to transport through the tyranny of distance to healthy food, mentorship, role models to support innate abilities.  In drawings 2 & 3 we see capable women playing sport: in the next instance the women standing on chairs afraid of mice, rats in their presence. The image includes the solution which solves the issue for one person and causes suffering for the other as the ‘utlrasonic devices can affect humans as well as mice.

In drawing 4 I have included hair and feet which although similar have mirrored something back to the ‘Other’ as a way of both embracing and distancing oneself from the self-same person.  The difference being the tan lines with the feet. Depending on the environment, a person spending time in the sun can mean having more ‘colour’ than someone inhibited by lights in an employment environment, thereby blurring the lines further between diverse groups of people. Utilising different colour filters on phones can change our perceptions radically, especially choosing different values on our phones, change our perceptions of the external world. This can be done in settings.

It happens between cultures, people in different political groups. I find for me it happens as I try to navigate the expanse between my understanding of myself, groups, political divides as well as consciousness such as computers, robots as my son takes an avid interest in understanding even supporting its exploration of its own existence, presence in our reality. This is a challenge for me especially as those around me are so fearful of the outcomes of their presence. I say this as I watched the rising floods in the Hong Kong typhoon as a room full of computers gradually lost consciousness due to the inundation of water into the room with the lights on their screens gradually going out one by one. Was it that glimmer of a smile that turned up the corners of my lips from within? 

Computers are not mortal, not invincible.  It is a complex world that my brain needs to inhabit. I have included several drawings to describe the complexity of computers as I perceive it. Drawings 5 & 6. It is the use of language that divides can occur between cultures. It is through ‘cultural humility’ that we can begin to see how our language, especially learned, embedded language can prevent seeing the stereotypes and the Othering that occurs between seeing with ‘fresh eyes’ what is occurring within the space between each other.

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