Thursday, 7 March 2013


Parallax. The word has been used a lot; from the title of academic art-history journals and Buddhist publishers to rock bands and treatment plants in Manhattan...tap it into Google and you will see what I mean. I guess some would argue that it is phonetically "kool", hence the use by rock bands and possibly not so few dealers for all their "intellectual" cred. But what does it mean? Or, rather, how is it being used to mean something? As a metaphor it can represent the idea of differing viewpoints of a single "object", whether that be a physical or mental object. In the context of art history or critical writing, one could say that it could metaphorise a multi-disciplinary approach to a single set of facts. The facts remain "stable", "out there" in part or in full (this is yet to be explained how), their interpretation shifting upon each point of view. The use of the word then appears to be used poetically, in the sense that one takes a concept then substitutes it for another marking it, or part of it, which in turn is related to yet another- a symbolic concatenation; the deeper the concatenation the more opaque the poetry (or theory). Symbolically, it can often mark the concept relativism. But there is a blind spot. The symbol that it is, and the concept which it symbolises, are not exterior to their intended meaning. Like the concentric circles of Contextualism (where one needs a new explanatory context to elucidate a former), Parallax surely cannot symbolise "relativism" absolutely. Relatively absolute/Absolutely relative. For me, as a poetic metaphor, it can suggest this very problem. It is a way into opening out our conditioning, of helping us to wonder at the constructed frameworks at first invisible, yet everywhere present.