The impermanence of everyday life is complex. It is stated over and over in this linear movement of life with a variety of constants and variables. What is the ‘everyday’? Why is it important to understand it? The term may be attached to other terms such as ‘routine’ or ‘home’. A space that provides grounding of some sort and is a system of its own. The word grounding can be misleading, even though the ‘everyday’ serves as a grid to our lives, it exists in a constant state of flux. It shifts, balances, jumps, runs and sleeps. And all of it occurs and re occurs. It leaves behind traces, of its previous occurrences, sometimes we are doomed to it or otherwise we evolve from it. But it can be stated that it is largely under control of the factor of repetition.
These reoccurrences are a way of understanding ourselves as individuals. A child responds to his/her name after it has been repeated over and over again until he/she finally identifies himself in response to the name. Hence it can be a way of making sense of the world to arrive at a level of consistency and derive an understanding of oneself and the world. Rita Felski, in ‘the invention of everyday life’ states that repetition is essentially seen as the counter force to progression. As we move forward this regularity embeds a sense of reassurance. We are in a way equipped with a set of tools that helps us move foreword. ‘Eating’ for example doesn’t have to be taught to us, we are doomed to a certain history that we repeat. You or I never invented this activity it, other cyclic forces in nature drive it. But every time we perform an activity we re-invent it.
Duality Everyday life co-exists with the other specialized category of life. Without which it would cease to exist. The system of everyday exists with its dual side, which brings the mundane everyday to life. Understanding the mundane is subjective to its nature of existence. Besides immediate ideas like bathing or eating it exists in other worlds too, and these worlds differ from every individual to the other. In the age of modern technology; smartphones and social media plays an important role in understanding the layers of meaning the ‘everyday’ generates, concerning individual experience and also the mass. The Everyday exists within a larger arrangement accompanied by its dual world of production and capitalism. Michel de Certeau talks about the colonization of everyday life by the commodity form.
Production would not exist without consumption and vice-versa each provides the other with the very essence that would define them. A man needs the essentials in order to prepare food but these can only be procured if it has been produced. Preparing food is a part of his everyday activity and making the essentials available maybe a part of the everyday for the other. Hence it builds a system that coexists. It is a common ground that is shared by everyone in the society. It is one of the fundamentals that produces and reproduces it in order to sustain and feed the growth of one another. According to Henri Lefebvre Everyday life was where he saw capitalism surviving and reproducing itself. The members of everyday and hence the capitalist society reproduce activities from their routine by eliminating the material conditions from which the activity initially sprouted. They are themselves responsible for this condition and fail to understand its roots. These activities maintain a veil that keeps people from seeing that their own activities are responsible for this loop created in their daily life. The system of Everyday The every day is the larger system that, that has functions that connect the dots and join together systems within it. There are sub-systems created within the larger system, they are dependent on one another for their functionality and growth. They may appear to be distant but is bound by the everyday. As the everyday and the ‘specialized category’ feeds of each other, the system as a whole has an inter-dependent quality.
For example as mentioned in the text everyday and everydayness by Henri Lefebvre and Cristina Levich, Industrially produced food functions around specific household appliances such as the refrigerator or the oven. Once the dominant forces making it possible for these elements to combine with one another is understood, the mechanism is recognized and it is unable to function without the support of the other. Here is when the system collapses. As a system of larger dominance, what if the worldwide web even crashes? The subsystems that are depended on this medium of networking automatically become dysfunctional. Even though these functions may appear to be distant they are a system of close ties that allow it to function as a whole. It is therefore the most universal condition, the most unique, and the most social, the most individuated, the most obvious and the best hidden. Apart from the functional, it has non-functional aspects. This can probably be added to the category of “the best hidden”. I see the same fruit vendor on a daily basis as I step out of my house every morning, but on one day I didn’t see him. This cut off some consistent pattern in my mind. We all have these moments when we catch ourselves thinking why? It does not disrupt any obvious functions in the day. I was still able to walk out of my house and continue my day like I always did. This image that is created in my mind probably does have a subconscious function that may not seem to be practical in the everyday world. But I was feeding off it on a minor level on a daily basis. This disruption added, however subtle did eventually added up to this unknown sum. There are points of stagnation and flow in the everyday.
There is an inconsistency in degree of how it occurs. But it appears over and over again, and this assures you of the event/activity/feeling. Modernity and everydayness constitutes a deep structure that was built some time ago. New stories, trends, fashions have become part the everyday guff. They all aim for the “change” how can you “change life”, they want it all, and fast and instantly. In the modern age we do get access to everything at the tip of our fingers that allow us travel far and fast. And this instant delivery makes us want more and more that we become mere passive consumers, overlooking value, meaning and various factors that make us who we are. We are doomed to a certain history that we repeat, at any point in the day. The factor of repetition has possessed us permanently. But this kind of possession is what sets us free as no one can claim anything. The postmodernist notion of ‘the original’ rejects the modern idea of it being new and substitutes it with the idea that it is the amalgamation of elements from the past and previously existing cultures. This emerges from a ground of repetition and reoccurrences. This ground is the grid. Rosalind Krauss points out that ‘the grid’ is being paradoxically rediscovered. She says it is a further paradox a prison in which the artist feels liberated. Hence it previously exists in other forms or culture no one could claim to have invented it. And now as we look at works of artists like Agnes martin or Mondrian, we could say that the works virtually cease to develop and become involved in repetition.
‘The islands’, by Agnes Martin (fig. 1) are a group of twelve identically large square paintings is a body of work that provides an insight into the modalities of the visual in her work. The matte white color and the horizontal lines drawn in pencil remain constant in all the canvases. The work is being reproduced within itself, which focuses an idea on the grid. According to her these works are not ideal for reproduction as they are light and luminous and hence deal with fusion and formlessness. They are a product of themselves but also do not exist as single units. They are entire bodies that in a way seek to examine the relationship between each other. They do not exist one after the other, body of work is a systems and the individual canvases are functions within the larger system that creates the whole. Everyday life image and the digital age In today’s world, everyday life is constantly being documented on our smartphones.
The imagery being developed distorts our understanding of what we see, or rather disconnects us from reality. What is real and how it can be altered creates a gap at first. Then as we go on, the ‘transformed’ object slowly takes over our perception of our understanding towards everyday life, due to the constant production of these images. This creates a culture we become doomed to. Through social networking platforms we access other peoples images that bleed into ours and vice versa. Images become obsolete, as new images are being produced everyday. Advertisements or any other media like instagram; they have become an extension of us. Marshall McLuhan speaks of this extension. He says that it is almost impossible to answer questions about extensions of man without considering them all together. Any extension, whether skin, hand or foot affects the whole psyche and social complex. “ In the electric age, when our central nervous system is extended technologically to evolve us in the whole of mankind and to incorporate the whole of mankind in us. We participate in its depth of our every action. It is no longer possible to adopt the disassociated role of the literate consumer. ”The logic behind ‘filters’ or ‘effects’ that the applications on our smartphones provide are a way of grouping the masses into categories more than the image itself. These images being repeatedly produced become an extension of us and ultimately extend into a larger category that blurs the lines between distinct personas or identities.
“Youngsters who are avid users of social media apps such as Snapchat and Instagram are increasingly seeking to actually look like what they look like after applying filters. This is the reason why plastic surgeons are witnessing an increasing number of visits from youngsters. At least 55 per cent of plastic surgeons in the United States (US) that they witnessed an increase in the number of patients that sought to ‘look better in selfies’, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. ”(Fig. 2)Altering/ rebuilding the body to repeat what goes around in the society is taking a big step in running away from the self and being a part of an unconscious cult that represents the popular culture. Meaning making in everyday lifeThe sound of everyday automatically imposes the monotony. This very act of this association of ‘the everyday’ to ‘monotony’ points to the fact that humans are programmed to attach meaning to all experiences. This association/meaning making is layered within the physical, emotional and social factors that affect the being. We consider each word that we use differently in a way that our past experiences direct us. Each word we use constructs a different image/ sensation towards the subject. This is embedded within the larger system of everyday. The effect of attaching meaning is formed by every individual subconscious and hence becomes instinctive. It also allows the object to have different meanings depending on all the different forces that affect it; the physical, emotional and social. Here the role of the grid reappears. The layers of meaning and how they change with individual experience and perception are formed over the foundation of this particular grid and how it has been constructed. Hence the meat that is being developed over this grid is repeatedly evolving from what previously exist.
One and three chairs, joseph Kosuth‘One and three chairs’ by Joseph Kosuth is the representation of one chair in three different ways; the photograph of a chair, the manufactured chair in its physical form and a print of the dictionary meaning of the word ‘chair’. He selected and assembled them to create a platform to explore new meanings. ‘Art is meaning making’ he said as he questions what is more accurate. This is the ideal illustration that underlines how meanings change with perception. Usage of the same subject repeatedly using different forms emphasizes on what the work suggests. He wanted us to think of meaning making using the work as an open-ended question in itself. The temporality of everyday life is complex; it combines repetition in cyclic and linear forces.
The passage of time cannot be captured in such rigid terms of cycles and linearity. Hence, it cannot oppose what is behind it but bring it to life the actuality of history as we relive and reinvent it in this complex movement of life. The everydayness holds together the different worlds of repetition. Bouncing off each other consumption does not make sense without the production of whatever it maybe, products or images or works of art. And consumption can be usage of these products or just using the human senses to respond to the humdrum of this ongoingness and its impermanence. It becomes obsolete, but reinvents itself repeatedly over the grid that was provided at its unknown inception.
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