Artist Unknown. <>

But if lies are “real” then they are no longer lies, but are truth, or have at least a sort of truthfulness to them. Lies exist. Even they have a place in reality. In fact, reality itself is partly constructed with lies. Lies have their faire share in the making of the foundation of what we deem reality.

The “rules” of reality are mere convention, and human made, therefore flexible sub-realities that make up the reality we all know and live in, as the puzzle pieces make up the picture. Those that govern and dictate these rules are too flexible and persuadable. Everything is so alterable.

If you want to define reality, you need to define people. In a way, reality and human beings are indivisible entities. Perhaps, reality is the product of the human race… or the human race is the product of reality.

I exist as a human being. This much I know is true – but what exactly constitutes a human?

T-shirt entitled “Human Being” from Origin 68 – A sustainable design store. <>

Surely, the definition of what it means to be human, what it means to be, is a human construction, a social construction because we’re looking at humanness from a human standpoint. Same too with reality. We perceive, define and categorize our world from the human stand point, with human eyes, using the facets and aspects of the human self to in fact define and perceive. How can we have “real” eyes when are eyes are just human eyes? We have human ideas concerning our world – how things should work, what things should do, look like, act – and sometimes these ideas of how things should be doesn’t exactly match up with the reality of the situation.

Not every family is as seemingly perfect this. Nor does a photograph portray “real” situations, people as they “really” are. In many ways, the photograph resembles human eyes: things are blurred, things are portrayed in a certain light.

Photograph of Angelina Jolie and four out of her six kids. Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue. November 2015. <>

Not every evening sunset is going to look or feel like this. In fact, the camera didn’t even effectively capture the sun’s rays and the colours of the sky in the background. The way my eyes saw the sunset was different from how the camera’s eyes saw it.

Lisa Vaughan-Farrell. A personal photo taken of the sunset. Augustana Campus, U of A. 2017

We’re all supposedly human beings, and we all supposedly and somehow live in the or a “reality”. But the way reality and human beings are presented isn’t always true. There’s some degree of falseness to our ways of living, and the ways of living that are advocated for, for the purpose of advertising, the unknown and ominous purposes of popular culture, the media as they exist in mediums like the Vogue magazine, and the purposes of a photograph.

See the common thing about these images is the degree to which the human is present and not so much present. It is as if humans are omnipresent, or at least the ideas and images of us are. Even when it comes to a photograph taken of the sun setting on the Augustana campus, we assume a human being took it – with a camera, but a person operating the camera nonetheless. And if people are as alterable as the digitally enhanced humans on magazine covers, so too is reality. We’re the ones perceiving reality, we’re the ones calling reality, “reality”, we’re the ones allocating things into the “real” and “fake” categories. And If we’re alterable, then so too are our definitions, so too is the/a/our reality.

But then even the fact that there are humans, and there is reality: these two separate words, implies that reality is transcendent, that reality is external to the human existence. What is reality like for the entities that are not human? Is their’s a different reality, or the same reality, just lived and perceived differently. I mean to say that humans are reality is a little egotistical. There is so much more to the world than humans, so much more to be perceived that the human senses can perceive, so many things that do not have a word and definition taped onto them. Just because things are unknowable to a human being, doesn’t make them any less real.

Truth is not empirical, I would argue. There are simply things that we cannot comprehend, things that are invisible, thing we are unable to see with human eyes, but nonetheless real.

Check out this link on Cal Redback’s art, or what he calls “Creative Re-touching”

cal redback manipulates human + nature into hybrid botanical bodies

Azzarello, Nina. “Cal Redback Manipulates Human + Nature into Hybrid Botanical Bodies” designboom | architecture & design magazine, <>. Accessed April 2017. 

One interpretation is that these photographs are an amalgamation of both human and nature, unnatural and natural, societal and environmental. But what stands out to us, and for the very purpose of this blog, is that these photographs really express the notion that what can be “captured” can also be manipulated, malleable, effectively changed. These photos of these people were retouched in a way, in such an effective way, as to make it look as if they are actually, truly treebeards: hybrids of both human and nature. It looks so real.

Which makes us wonder, what is real, and what are lies, when the lines that divide “real” and “lie” are erased constantly? When photographs that are obviously not depicting what’s real, like people who have ferns growing out of their noses, are portrayed in a way that makes the subject matter look real, it really begs the question: do the photographs ever depict reality, real-ly?

What Cal Redback does is art. But what is art trying to tell us — if it’s trying to tell us anything at all — that reality can so easily be subject to manipulation, that neither reality nor its depiction is in any sense of word, real. 

Does Strangeness truly exist?

 “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto” translates to

“I am human, and I think that, nothing that is human, is alien to me”

– Publius Terentius Afer, also known as Terrence, from his play Heauton Timorumenos.

Illustration entitled “Boy in Darkness” by Mervyn Peake from his book, “Ride a Cock-Horse and other Nursery Rhymes” , 1940.

On how to do something difficult:



to be someone who could do it.

Not pretend to do it, but pretend to be

someone who could.

So be wise,

because the world needs more wisdom.

And if you cannot be wise,

pretend to be someone who is wise, and then just behave




– Neil Gaiman

Gaiman, Neil. “Make Good Art”, 17 May. 2012, University of the Arts, Philadelphia. Keynote Speech. <>

Meanwhile in a parallel universe?

Are there parallel or alternate realities, or does reality consist of multiple realities?

Ridgewell, Thomas. “…in the remaining parallel universes: Meanwhile 3” Youtube, uploaded by Thomas Ridgewell, December 14, 2014. <>

The reality of one who is blind is vastly different from the reality of a person who isn’t blind. What does the multiplicity of realities, the realities that differ from person to person, say about reality itself? Is there one, true, capital “R” Reality? It would appear not, as Helen Keller obviously experienced a reality vastly different from someone like me. Helen Keller was born dumb, blind, and deaf, making her sense her reality, her existence in a very peculiar and unique way from those around her. But it’s only peculiar and unique because it’s different from what some would call “normal” people, as if normalcy is measured by our abilities to see, hear, and talk.

Album cover for Teeth of the Sea’s album “Highly Deadly Black Tarantuala” released November 2015.

That’s just it. There is no normal, ideal way of existing, of being human, or living in reality. We are not created to be the same, we do not fit so easily into the moulds that are constructed for us. Nor should we attempt to define a person by prioritizing what is ideal and what is not. Blindness to some, would be seen as an impediment, as a hindrance, something to be quelled and fixed, made straight, made normal. But who decided that being able to see is ideal? What factors came into consideration when it was decided that blindness is something to be fixed? When in fact, blindness is just another reality, another form of existence? It is a way of life, it is a philosophy, it is merely another way being human.

It’s interesting to think that an image can carry meaning, can “say” something; that it allows the viewer to peel back the paint on the surface, and delve past the superficial level on the canvas to the potentially infinite possibilities and ways it can be interpreted, speaks to the power images have, simply by presenting themselves to the viewer. Again using words. Language seems to always crop up when it comes to the human individual in relation to the “other” or the relation to the subject matter, in relation to all that individual perceives, how they exist in the world they exist in. Humans use language to comprehend the things they’re looking at; and similarity art – photography, artwork, images, representations – use words as well among their other mediums handy in their tool kit, along with the paintbrush, the platform the image is exhibited, the lens. Words are as present as the subject matter, almost as visible as the techniques in composition, words have a natural place in the artwork, in the image, with the artist, alongside the photographer.

How? When a painting or photograph is presented to a viewer, are not words needed to describe the emotions elicited? words are used to comprehend possible reasons for that particular angle, used to elucidate the possibility that the artist is commenting on something else, using metaphor to get a view or a certain opinion across, that the artist is conveying something to their viewers, and the artwork itself is words portrayed on a canvas, painting a narrative, sketching a convention, using words as shading, that each brushstroke is rhetoric, that every single detail – or lack of detail – is in fact “saying” something. And in turn, for us as viewers and spectators, in relation to an artwork on canvas or a photograph, we use language in a way to describe the impact of what’s being presented.

Photography can be defined many ways. It can be seen as “capturing” a fleeting moment. It can be seen as taking a leash and lassoing it around a moment to keep it from fidgeting. It can be seen as cementing a memory forever onto something tangible. Photography can be seen as a means of objectively witnessing a frame of time – it can state rather definitively: “THIS IS EXACTLY AND PRECISELY WHAT THIS THING LOOKS LIKE” presenting itself as a means to which people can view their world “accurately”.

The photograph. A technology that brags being able to capture a fleeting moment’s time objectively. It can be seen as taking a leash and lassoing it around a frame in time to keep it from fidgeting. Ostensibly, a photograph perfectly represents the facts, presuppose that it tames the subject matter, cements memories into tangibility, silences the noise, makes still the fluidity and ephemerality of the moment; immortalizing and making timeless mere mortals, fleeting weather patterns, finite entities all to the four wall confinement of the photograph. Pretty powerful stuff. Also quite manipulative. That a mere machine, a lens, can take life — something known to be fleeting, ephemeral, ungraspable — and put it on display rather concretely, almost like the way museums tend to take the past and put it in display cases, as if it is something knowable, something tameable.

Yet there’s so much more to photography than merely a means of objectively documenting. Photography is an art form in some cases, it is a way of life, but ultimately it is a tool, and certainly a powerful one that goes beyond the boundaries between fact and reality and falsehoods. In fact, photography reshapes the categories and truth and lie, reality and fiction, making their borders porous.

What’s interesting in my limited and amateurish experience with photography, is the same motif time and time again: that the camera lens never seems to accurately capture exactly what my eyes are witnessing. The lens of the camera doesn’t seem to have as much depth and detail as the lens of the human eye. This is a frustration that I’m sure many camera users face. What it does is replicate what the human eye witnesses, and by using different settings, different lenses, different apertures, shutter releases — essentially knobs in a machine — you can recreate an image of reality into multiple, varying forms, twisting and bending a moment in time into something sometimes wholly other than what it looks. The fundamentally fascinating thing about this, is that photography, based on this definition, dismantles the most important distinction in ontological philosophy: what is the distinction between reality and appearance, representation and actuality, and how do we tell them apart?

In a way, photography, like art and film, is a lie.

Below is a wonderful video on Ansel Adams by the nerdwriter1.

Puschak, Evan “Ansel Adams: Photography with Intention” Youtube, uploaded by Evan Puschak (nerdwriter1) on March 16, 2016. <>

Capturing the mind’s eye.

r.e. Kittson. “TTL” January 25, 2013. Digital Image. Flickr. Web. May 2017. <>

Below is a rather daunting example of this interesting facet of photography: that it doesn’t’ always quite represent what we see.

This is Daguerre’s photograph, known to be his first, of a bustling city street in the middle of Paris.

Louis Jacques-Mande Daguerre. Boulevard du Temple 1838 or 1839. Paris. Web. Mar 2017.<>

But what exactly do we see? What are our human, limited, finite senses picking up? As human beings, obviously, the only way we can see ourselves, the people around us, our world, and our existence is through our own humanness. Inevitably, we can only contemplate and seek to understand fragments of our world through human senses, human understanding, the finite boundaries of the human mind. The interesting thing about this photograph, is not only that it is one of the first known photographs taken, but that with an exposure time of 10-15 minutes, Daguerre cannot, with his camera, take a “proper” photograph of the street in Paris.

You see, at the that time, the streets of Paris, after having gone extensive construction following the French Revolution, would have been packed with people. In this photograph of a Parisian street, there should have been numerous amounts of people walking up and down the street. But there isn’t. These streets of Paris, theoretically, would have been the perfect place for a flaneur to do his viewing. The shops would have been brimming with people, the public lounge areas were just beginning to become a fad. The street was so filled with people hurrying back and forth, walking up and down the street, that no one would have been sitting or standing still long enough to be captured by the camera. And henceforth, due to their inability to be still, they are completely wiped off the frame of existence, as if they were never there. Daguerre’s camera convincingly shows that no one was there, when in “reality” there would have been multitudes.

All we see here are two people who were standing still long enough to be captured by the camera.

Louis Jacques-Mande Daguerre. Boulevard du Temple 1838 or 1839. Paris. Web. Mar 2017. [Up-close shot of the shoeshiner and their customer]. <>

A shoe shiner, and a figure having their shoes shined.

Artist Unknown. <> If anyone has any information about the photographer/artist/copyright holder of this image, please contact the author.

But what’s real? How can we possibly know? Is the camera lying to us, is its technological inability to capture a bustling Parisian street the reason why the street looks empty. Or is the street truly empty, apart from the two figures engaged in the shining of shoes. What did Daguerre really see?

Jonathan Lichtfeld. Summer, Where Art Thou? Digital Imagery. Pinterest. Date of posting unknown. Web. Mar 2017.  <>


To be continued

Is Reality a Conglomerate of Holistic Realities?

So I’m having trouble understanding my existence in the world. It almost seems as if my existence is being split up into multiple pieces, and each piece goes and dabbles or immerses itself into a “reality”. As a student, my existence currently is being spent at school. School is a world of itself; a student is taken away from their hometown and their families and plunked into a world of deadlines, worth measured by letter grades, time efficiency, productivity, and a whole new social circle that replaces the family a student presumably came from. We now live with our friends or people who are not our friends but our roommates or canmates and we essentially have to provide for ourselves (in most cases). In my case I have to buy toilet paper which is something I had never returned from the grocery store with. School is a universe of itself. And to give even more evidence for this, when I complain to my parents how stressful school can be, they reply with “just wait til you leave school and get to REAL world”. Retrospectively, this is getting me thinking. What the heck is this so-called, quote on quote, “real” world they speak of? Is University life henceforth not real, or not as real as, this other ambiguous “real” world? How does this “real” world invalidate the realness of school life?

Robert S. Neuman Ship to Paradise – 2 1977. Web. Mar 2017. <>

This is a fascinating path to venture down. But let’s look at the digital.

You so often hear the term “virtual” reality, a term used to describe the digital sphere. This digital world consists of platforms on the internet such as Youtube, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter as well as online gaming, cosplay, and art communities, as well as many other communities and world and realities and platforms that exist in the vast, enigmatic myriad that is the network. I often personally am able to spend (easily) up to 5 consecutive hours on Youtube, and I know many people who have and enjoy spending many more hours on the internet, on their phone, staring at their computer screen. In fact, for a student this is the norm: online databases filled with scholarly journal articles, researching in general, and the majority of our interaction with our majors and the fields and subjects we study is spent in relation to our computer: typing notes on a word or pages file, attending online video conferences with other classes (that we wouldn’t be able to interact with easily due to our separate geographical placements), being a part of online classes, writing blogs, watching film, listening to music etc, etc, etc. Not only is the digital sphere or “virtual reality” a whole other or separate world that we can delve into, but it interacts, lends itself to and intersects with our reality. But now that the three (out of possibly the many many more) realities have been mentioned: the reality of a student living in a University setting, the reality of the “real” world one supposedly enters into upon leaving school, and the virtual reality of the digital world. If these are realities, their mere existence shows that reality in itself does not exist in the singular. If multiple realities are in existence, that goes to show that there is no one reality, but many. That reality can only exist by being plural. That there is no “one” reality but many.

Mervyn Peake. Alice Climbing Through the Looking Glass. circa 1945. Pinterest. Web. Mar 2017.  <>


Or perhaps, there is one reality and yet it exists by being split up into many different realities. It fragments itself as a puzzle would. It has many pieces, the picture itself in there, but it has been split into many, individual parts. These parts fit together, intersect and interact with each other to produce a holistic picture. Perhaps it is helpful to look at reality as if it is a puzzle.




Artist Unknown. If anyone has any information regarding the photographer/artist/copyright holder of this image, please contact the author. <>


And yes, the elephant in the room is finally being noticed. What exactly do we mean when we talk about reality? What is its precise definition? Can we associate reality with existence? Is reality, drawing on the puzzle metaphor, the individual existences of each individual human being?

to be continued

What is Strange?

When I think about what is strange it can be hard for me to define what that is. I have read so many books, watched many tv shows, animes, movies, and played so many video games. I’ve gone through so many stories that I find myself suspending disbelief whenever I get into a new one so that I can know what is and isn’t unusual for the inhabitants in that world. But what is strange for them is not strange for other worlds I have read and things that surprise them and seem odd to them I find myself at most going “Huh” and finding it interesting but not really “strange”.

Miki Sato. Late into the Night. Digital Imagery. Date Unknown. Web. Mar 2017.   <>



This is partially in response to Janet’s post on the course website where she said that anything can be strange, because if anything can be strange then so could nothing.

What exactly is the definition of strangeness?

What exactly is the definition of normal?







Scott Mutter. Untitled (Escalator). Date Unknown. Web. Mar 2017. Caption: “I’m a pilgrim on the edge, on the edge of my perception. We are travellers on the edge, we are always at the edge of our perceptions.” <>

What is the definition of strangeness? Often when we contemplate a thing, we think of its exact opposite — the thing existing on the far side of the spectrum — in order to truly understand the nature of the other. So when we consider strangeness, we look at the things we consider normal. But some of the most strangeness things we can behold, are the most natural, most normal occurrences in day to day life.

Castillon, Neels “A Bird Ballet” Vimeo.

Some of the most natural occurrences, the things we consider normal, are other people’s very definition of strange — just as one’s person’s garbage, is another’s gold, and one’s gold is another’s garbage.

Tebe Interesno. Title Unknown. Date Unknown. Digital Image. Web. Mar 2017. <>

The funny thing about perception, is that its human. The funny thing about definitions, is that they’re human. The funny thing about everything that exists, is that they exist is through human senses, through human experience. We give life to everything because if we ourselves weren’t in existence, we wouldn’t be to talk about concepts, notions, and ideas. And if a thing isn’t talked about, does it exist? It might exist, but it wouldn’t exist according to humans, if we ourselves didn’t exist.

Life seems to be a feedback loop. Humans experience life, life is seen through the eyes of the individual experiencing it, and therefore defined by us. Life can be turned upside down so easily, it can be totally altered by changing perspectives, changing ideas, changing concepts regarding the nature of existence. New theories pop up all the time, easily changing our perception of life. Yet life’s characteristics consistently impact our thinking.

Ashwin singh [Youtube user],”WE ACCEPT THE REALITY OF THE WORLD WITH WHICH WE ARE PRESENTED” 01:00, posted 16 Mar, 2013. <>

to be continued.

Cory Godbey: La Cadeau du Temps or “The Gift of Time”

Hey Mike, this short film might have an implicit, underlying meaning:

The explosion which gave birth to the mystical woman, who then gave the man the potion might be a symbol of… the internet?? HAHA. I don’t know.

He then lived through periods of time, continually growing old, and continually drinking the potion… maintaining his youth, but in a unnatural way.

He sees many things, and accumulates knowledge. A result of him hoarding the potion to himself, is utter loneliness.

He eventually returns to the place where he started. Having lived for all that time, having travelled throughout time itself, having defeated the deity of time, it was all to come back to where he was before. And as a result, it is as if no time has passed at all.

At the end, he comes to the fountain of knowledge itself, where he finds massive amounts of people all around it, swimming in it, drinking from it.

He goes to fill up the glass bottle, trying to take the fountain’s water for himself, and it explodes. The potion then is given to everyone, making everyone younger.

But the old man does not care to hoard his potion for any longer. He’s already seen it all. Plus, I bet he’s pretty sick and tired of living by now.

This film could be an allegory for knowledge, and how we pine for it. And how the “digital” allows us to slip in and out of time space, so to speak. Time passes by the hours, for we also stop time in a way, in that no time passes at all. We spend our lives in front of the screen, a screen that presents to us all these ever growing, ever advancing technologies, new found knowledge, new found facts, new found realities. But at the end of the day, does time really pass us by? Or are we inevitably stagnant as we grow, get younger (in that we our subject to new knowledge, and subsequently are reborn), grow, get younger, etc?

Godbey, Cory. “Le Cadeau du Temps.” Vimeo. N.p., May 2011. Web. 10 May 2017. <>

to be continued.