The Presence of Absence or Ways of Looking at the World.

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”

Aldous Huxley

When we view something, what is it that we see? How the presenter of the thing wants us to see it, in other words a “curated” version? Or does what we perceive activate a part of our inner self which confirms or denies the artist or presenter’s intentions.


It all depends on how willing we are to consider the opposite and accept the complexity of life.

Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories.”

Zadie Smith

To get a rounded appreciation of something, we have to be like those classic Agatha Christie crime solvers and consider what is not there-what is denied-as well as what is there and presented to the light.

“Our minds influence the key activity of the brain, which then influences everything; perception, cognition, thoughts and feelings, personal relationships; they’re all a projection of you “

Deepak Chopra

Take history for example, there is the consenus reality, the status quo of the story of a country,event, people or place and then there is the shadow side, the unwritten history which may be painful or difficult and therefore is repressed.

Recently, I visited an exhibition by an Indigenous/Chinese artist in Port Macquarie, Jason Wing is an established artist who visited the area and remarked on how little was presented of the Indigenous culture in the local museum. He was inspired to amend this through his art. Of course the title of the exhibition relates to the concept of “Terra Nullius” or “no man’s land” a convenient philosophical belief that no-one existed in the Great South Land before its discovery by Europeans.

One powerful piece entitled “Slavery” in which the title is spelt out using tobacco leaves, btings up the hidden history of how Indigenous workers, many stockmen on cattle stations, were paid in cigarettes, not money, thus inducing widespread addiction.

Another “More than, less than” depicts the stark cultural difference in how the land was appreciated and mapped;the Indigenous culure using symbols to depict the land, the European, a measuring ruler used to divide and conquer it. A concurrent exhibition by Nicole Welch entitled “Silence and Solitude” blended with and supported the major themes of “The Presence of Absence” and seemed to ask the question

Just what do we see when we look at our country; the place as it is or how we wish it to be?

Old Newtonian physics claimed that things have an objective reality separate from our perception of them. Quantum physics, and particularly Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, reveal that, as our perception of an object changes, the object itself literally changes.”

Marianne Williamson

4 thoughts on “The Presence of Absence or Ways of Looking at the World.

  1. Wonderful post Kate, it really filled me with calm. The quotes you give are all strong and worth
    saving to remind me of the truths.
    It is so true about interpretation, we often see things differently. Both art and practical objects.
    This of course go for the written word too.


    Liked by 1 person

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