Below is an archive of Fall 2021 work from the Art & Society course by Rohan Mahoney.
Reading Response: The Blue of Distance (by Rebecca Solnit)
Intro Unit: Walk of Destiny Project
When we decide to take a walk, is our path predetermined by some higher cause or is it our own free will acting in each moment? In my case, free will was my only tool for discovery. A recognition of the repetitive path laid before me by this coin of destiny. I decided, rather than being trapped in the perpetual loop of left, left, left, left, and right, right, right, right, to abandon the path altogether. Breaking away from the predetermined path to follow my instincts of inquisition. And that’s exactly what I did. Following my eyes and ears and feeling the texture of the ground beneath me, no longer was my destiny controlled by someone other than myself.
My foreign eyes on this ancient and unique city were instantly drawn to the juxtaposition of the modern and the medieval. Neon street signs in between ancient horse hitches, and cars parked right in front of the famous Duomo. A surreal merge between modernity and the past. Who was given the responsibility of picking and choosing the aspects of each that would be the most prevalent? How do we decide which aspects of contemporary life are not worthy of persisting into the future? What makes the great relics we cherish so valuable in the remembrance of our story?
I sat on a bench in Via Camporegio with an amazing view of the Duomo. However, like during my walk, my attention was drawn to the antique European car in front of me. And the neon signs. And the neon striped trash can. Why not be awestruck by the amazing view in front of me? Because the view is just that, a view. It’s not something I can touch or feel or participate in. The story of its history has already passed and to appreciate it has its own value, a separate one from the participation in the story of the now. While simultaneously awestruck by the beauty of the feat of architecture that is Sienna, the contrast between the familiar objects in my life and these in a foreign land was overpowering. These mundane objects that seem trivial are the roots of contemporary society. Will these objects be kept in museums by future civilizations? Will we want them to be?