1. The Red Dot
The cultural context is determined by the collective unconscious where all the contents of our unconscious are constantly being projected into our surroundings. Only by recognizing certain properties of the objects as projections or images are we able to distinguish them from the real properties of the objects.
SEE ALSO: ARCHAIC, IDENTIFICATION AND PARTICIPATION MYSTIQUE, PROJECTIONS (HTTPS://FRITHLUTON.COM/ARTICLES/PROJECTION/)
The work of art is characterized by the formal appropriation of a red dot, a metaphorical “coin” which, on one hand, reveals and, on the other hand, hides. The revelation is endorsed by the article that defends the freedom of artistic expression; the hidden part, in antithesis, is associated with privacy (censorship). The tension created by this dichotomy makes this relational and environmental art project a symbol that causes reactions that depend on the cultural context of the public (projection – Jung). During the pandemic, this created confusion about the meaning of the red dots because they began to voluminously appear in a short period. This increased the mystery of the red dots.
1.1 The Form
The form of a circle has developed distinct meanings in various cultures, across different religions, and among disciplines. Many of these domains overlap or are used in relation to each other.
- The word ‘mandala’ in Sanskrit means circle and refers to art created in a circular form. Mandalas have historically appeared in religious settings, however, more contemporarily they are also used for therapeutic purposes.
- Psychologist Carl Jung promoted the use of mandalas for individuals seeking to unify their conscious and unconscious. It is an act of active imagination that elevates emotions that are hidden or overlooked. This allows the individual to become more self-aware and mindful. They are geometric projections that represent consciousness unity which are called cosmograms. Jungian psychology declares that the soul naturally moves cyclically rather than in a straight line. The interior of the circle is the sum of all the components of the psyche. Disorientation and psychic confusion can be alleviated by creating mandalas because they are archetypes for order. The presence of chaos can be encircled within the boundaries of a circle to create order.
- See: ‘Medical student mandala making for holistic well-being’ (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4819653/)
- In Hindusim, they function as ‘yantras’ which are tools that sustain, support, and manifest. Hindi women often wear a red dot called a ‘bindi on the center of their forehead. Bindi means ‘point.’ It represents the spot where creation begins and all things are unified. It is placed on the Ajna Chakra which is the location of the third eye. It is one of the body’s seven main chakras. This chakra governs the ability to perceive beyond what is before you as well as observe what is within yourself. A bindi on that specific spot assists the process of self-realization and enlightenment.
- The circle (‘enso’) has been the most prominent symbol in the Zen tradition since the mid 19600s when it first began to appear in Japanese monasteries. In Japanese, enso means circle and has been used for direct pointing. This is a technique to achieve enlightenment by transcending symbols and words. The direct creation of the enso is an act that allows the mind to be free and flow.
- According to Gnostics, it is the most primal aspect of God. To Greek philosophers and the Pythagoreans, the circumpunct represents God, or the Monad – the point of the beginning of creation, and eternity. It is the sun of astrologers and astronomers; the alchemical gold of the alchemist, and the Keter of the Kabbalah.
The form of a circle is an archetype for the universe. It is a representation of the unity of the consciousness and unconsciousness, of the mind with the soul, and with man and his environment. It encompasses all that is seen but also that is invisible to the eye but revealed within the cosmos.
The circle around the dot is the universe or world in which we live. A blank canvas to draw from the circle that which we wish to create. A place to also retreat when things in life get too chaotic. Erase our problems in ‘order’ to have a clean slate. In a sense, redeem our souls.
In this project, the expression is a formal “gestaltung” made of pure form and color (circle/red). This distinguishes our form from other stickers that have blatant messages. But other people, when they see the red dots, try to explain the forms in inappropriate ways since it is an abstract expression. This leaves and grows the mystery and suspense of the red dots as the media and other artistic collectives began to interact with them. CJA is quietly impacting the underground artistic scene. Since 2011, this project has had empirical implications that can also be proved in the industry. When the expressions are documented, they subsequently become part of a larger public domain when they are shared online. This manifests greater interactions among artists globally.
1.2 The Colour
Red has a plethora of associations to feelings, events, symbols, etc. It is often identified as love, passion, blood, power, and strength. Below is a brief list of where the colour red appears:
- The French Revolution, red flag
- Communism (USSR, China)
- Roman Catholic Church: it is the blood of Christ and the Christian martyrs
- Fashion (Christian Louboutin red-bottomed shoes – a sign of luxury and elegance)
- It is the first colour that the human eye can perceive upon birth, next to black and white.
- It is the first colour that humans were able to master, fabricate, reproduce, and deconstruct into different shades.
- Red was the colour of the Greek gods of war Phoebus and Ares.
- The Japanese flag has a red circle on a white background. The red dot represents the sun. Japan is also referred to as the ‘Land of the Rising Sun.’
Due to its strong association with politics and the fact that the project origins began in that dimension by exploring the relation between artists and law and now continues to examine the politics of art, the colour of our dot is strongly justified.
2 The Symbolism
See: Dobson, T. (2017), ‘Tip of the Icon: Examining Socially Symbolic Indexical Signage,’ Dialectic 1 (1), http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/dialectic.14932326.0001.106.
The list below is a compilation of situations in which the symbol of the red dot appears.
- The red dot sticker on an artist/price card indicates that the art piece has been sold.
- Record (REC)
- Index (Graphic Language)
- Japan flag
- Various logos (ex. 7UP)
- Stop sign, traffic lights
- Red dot sight (A light-emitting diode used for aiming for firearms)
- Maps (Google, Red Dot Up (Start), Red Dot Up, Red Dot Up (End)
- Red Circle location (pin)
- Red Circle was approved as part of Unicode 6.0 in 2010 under the name “Large Red Circle” and added to Emoji 1.0 in 2015
- On some medicines a red dot will appear within a square. It means that it contains an ingredient from animals (ie the shell of a capsule is composed of gelatin).
- Red Dot United (RDU) is a national movement in Singapore focuses on advancing the wellbeing of all Singaporeans by promoting fairness, accountability, integrity, transparency and happiness, hope, and heart (https://reddotunited.sg/)
There are many more instances where the red dot appears in commerce, transportation, and other various disciplines. This is a continuous list. CJA accepts an documentation or references from the audience where they spot a red dot.
There is a range of criteria that CJA uses for choosing the locations for placing the red dots.
1) Proximity. Analysing the physical elements of the surrounding determines if the location deserves to be tagged with the dot.
The mutual interaction between man and the environment is a fundamental consideration for determining where to place the dot. Edward Hall perpetuated the study of the human use of space, proxemics. His research distinguished between three levels of proxemic behaviour. Infracultural is the behaviour established that underlines culture such as territoriality and crowding. Precultural uses senses to perceive spaces. And microcultural describes how space is changed by cultural effects. The final level is also three parts and each uniquely relates to culture. Fixed features examined materially fixed spatial factors of culture such as urban planning. The arrangement of smaller features such as furniture in human interactions is part of the semi-fixed feature. The dynamic/informal feature combines the two prior features to examine how humans mediate between them. Interaction occurs in all these spaces and features.
The red dot becomes part of the interactions and conversations that occur in the chosen vicinity. Urban spaces are often characterized as spots of anonymity, detachment, and segmentation due to cosmopolitanism and diversity. Adding red dots to the environment is a bridge between humans and these spaces because it allows for consistent exposure to something in a constantly changing space as well as increasing the ability for engagement. Space gains an identity that is derived from the attachment of a dot. Increasing the identity of the space that humans interact in justifies the importance of proxemics for this project.
- Parochialism is a state of mind when small sections are focused without giving attention to the wider context. A parochial character centers their attention on issues in their local and more intimate space, which leaves them with a narrow perspective.
- See: Tomaney, J. (2013), ‘Parochialism – a Defence,’ Progress in Human Geography 37 (5): 658-672. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0309132512471235.
2 ) The second criterion is changing the pattern design that previously existed on the chosen location (ie. a previous logo, advertisement, etc.).
3) Confusion. Creating uncertainty through the random application of the red dots on subtle, unmarked locations.
4) Finally, the red dots are often also camouflaged on other red surfaces or where there are similar red forms. The dots are placed either by themselves or as a pattern involving multiple dots in one spot (see: Actions – Extended Design).
3.1. Selective Perception
Once an individual notices a red dot they start to notice them more and more. The dots are no longer only part of the background and of their subconscious. Gradual conditioning to spotting the dots contributes to the selective perception of the surrounding environment. The red dot can then become the first thing that is noticed rather than the surface, building, advertisement, etc that it is placed on. This can make the dots be defined as psychological and visual. What was unconscious becomes part of the perceived reality. For example, once the media began to discuss the red dots in Lugano, they started to become removed even though some of them were placed 4 years ago while the #PFZ was taking over. This demonstrates that the media began to amend the perception of the dots as a sticker. The project spreads continuously and with an undetermined frequency. The more people interact with this project the more intense it becomes. This is a connection to the pandemic because as more people interact with one another, the greater the intensity and spread of the virus.
In Western countries, mapping is currently a ubiquitous and dominant operational metaphor.
There are now many instances of contemporary art using cartography that have shifted towards these new methodologies that, generally, represent a generational shift away from the map (and associated problems of the image and representation) towards mapping as a process, with a concomitant focus on action and activism.
One instance is artists’ often unquestioning acceptance of mapping structures such as map projections or the uses of technology, justifying their lack of engagement as an artistic strategy of the readymade, or ‘the given’ (an artistic strategy derived in part from Marcel Duchamp in the early twentieth century). At the same time, some scientists or map theorists overlook how any particular map artist fits within the wider schemes or conventions of contemporary art. Yet both artists and cartographers are increasingly sharing approaches based on contemporary philosophies and, for better or worse, often sharing a similar, information-drenched, user-oriented world.
- Buci-Glucksman, C. L’oeil cartographique de l’art. 1996.
- Casey, E. Earth-Mapping: Artists Reshaping Landscape. 2007.
- Watson, R. (2009), ‘Mapping and Contemporary Art,’ The Cartographic Journal 46 (4): 293-307. https://www.scribd.com/document/380076517/Watson-R-Mapping-and-Contemporary-Art-pdf.
MapHub beta is a source for creating collaborative and interactive maps. The open platform derives its system from open datasets that allow users to view streets, satellites, etc. and attach photos and links to specific coordinates. The PrivacyFreeZone map was created on 4 May 2020. As of 16 September 2020, the map has 1436 dots mapped. This map is a documentation of the interaction among cities and public spaces that lacked any sort of interaction during the coronavirus pandemic. The red dots symbolize a tribute to the associations that occur in these areas, directly and indirectly, no matter what micro and macro circumstances are happening.
5.2. Experimental Geographies
The investigation in experimental geographies has been done as inquiry or systematic study
The proliferation of the term ‘experimental’ in human geography has given rise to the question of how geographers experiment. Given the range of different examples ‐ from explorations of sensory methods to attempts at transforming the role of publics in decision‐making ‐ it becomes clear that one cannot talk about a unified experimental geographical approach. While projects share common themes such as challenging methodological limitations or wishing to play a more active part in the ‘production of space’, they also show fundamental differences in their attitude .
See: Last, A., (2012), ‘Experimental Geographies,’ Geography Compass, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gec3.12011.
The term psychogeography was invented by the Marxist theorist Guy Debord in 1955 in order to explore this. Inspired by the French nineteenth century poet and writer Charles Baudelaire’s concept of the flâneur – an urban wanderer – Debord suggested playful and inventive ways of navigating the urban environment in order to examine its architecture and spaces.
As a founding member of the avant-garde movement Situationist International, an international movement of artists, writers and poets who aimed to break down the barriers between culture and everyday life, Debord wanted a revolutionary approach to architecture that was less functional and more open to exploration.
The reimagining of the city proposed by psychogeography has its roots in dadaism and surrealism, art movements which explored ways of unleashing the subconscious imagination. Tristam Hillier’s paintings such as La Route des Alpes 1937 could be described as an early example of the concept.
Psychogeography gained popularity in the 1990s when artists, writers and filmmakers such as Iain Sinclair and Patrick Keiller began using the idea to create works based on exploring locations by walking.
As described in the criteria (2.1) also the positioning of the adhesives was done using the flaneur principle, i.e. stopping where instinct and other forces agreed.
Definition: Register in a certain order or according to certain criteria, to facilitate subsequent searches. Catalogues are reproduced here to underline the frequency of this theme.
Hilla e Bernd Becher
The German artists Bernd and Hilla Becher, who began working together in 1959 and married in 1961, are best known for their “typologies”—grids of black-and-white photographs of variant examples of a single type of industrial structure. To create these works, the artists traveled to large mines and steel mills, and systematically photographed the major structures, such as the winding towers that haul coal and iron ore to the surface and the blast furnaces that transform the ore into metal. The rigorous frontality of the individual images gives them the simplicity of diagrams, while their density of detail offers encyclopedic richness. At each site the Bechers also created overall landscape views of the entire plant, which set the structures in their context and show how they relate to each other. The typologies emulate the clarity of an engineer’s drawing, while the landscapes evoke the experience of a particular place. The exhibition presents these two formats together; because they lie at the polar extremes of photographic description, each underscores the creative potential of the other.