Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The gift of seeing resemblances

Jacky Bowring, “Revealing Concealment: The Strange Case of the MoMA Roof Garden” in Thresholds (MIT Press). Fall 2005, p. 17—

Camouflage and mimicry are predicated on concepts of simulation and resemblance, and the desire to produce and discern likeness is ingrained in human experience. In his 1933 essay, “On the Mimetic Faculty“ Walter Benjamin aligned mimetic imitation, or mimicry, with all of the “higher functions” of humanity, and pointed to a time when the “law of similarity” governed life, ruling both “microcosm and macrocosm.” Benjamin conceived of mimesis as a powerful impulse, and a desire to assimilate the self into the other, a social practice, as a foundation for art and language, stating, “nature creates similarities. One need only think of mimicry. The highest capacity for producing similarities, however, is man’s. His gift of seeing resemblances is nothing other than a rudiment of the powerful compulsion in former times to become and behave like something else. Perhaps there is none of his higher functions in which his mimetic faculty does not play a decisive role.”

Horsehead / Mole and Thomas

The Living Photographs of Mole and Thomas
Mimicry, Metaphor, and Mistake
Embedded Figures in Art, Architecture and Design
Khaki to Khaki (dust to dust): The ubiquity of camouflage in human experience