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video, 3 min. 30 sec.
The invention of the alphabet is generally perceived as a step forward in the development of our civilisation. It became the base for the main pillars of a society - law, education, history and religion. However, there is one fundamental effect of literacy that has gone largely unnoticed: writing subliminally fosters a patriarchal outlook. The dawn of alphabet affected the balance of power between men and women and tilted the scales toward the masculine. This shift produced a revolution in gender relationships that was subtle and insidious in the process, but radical in the outcome - it usurped female power in society and sparked the rise of patriarchy in human culture. The establishment of hierarchical societies as such seems to be linked with the appearance of alphabet and writing.
The ability to read slowly reconfigured the human brain, effecting profound changes in all aspects of our knowledge. Linearity, sequence, abstraction and analysis are the mental processes used in reading. These are all ruled by the brain’s left hemisphere, which is also responsible for language, logic, reductionism and computation. Over the centuries, these qualities were pushed forward at the expense of the right-hemispheric mode of intuitive, simultaneous, synthetic and concrete perception. The battle between episteme (knowledge from facts) and gnosis (wisdom from intuition) was fought and lost.
Today, in our world dominated by images, the idea that logical, linear thinking is better than intuition and holistic perception starts to appear outdated. Our culture becomes more comfortable with its reliance on images (TV, ads, movies, computers, eye-catching and rapidly changing pictures, scientific visualisations, colourful charts and graphics) and literacy will inevitably decline in time, making space for a more right-hemispheric mode of reading.
This video which appears to be a generic home made porn is in fact a double translation of the whole alphabet - firstly into morse code and subsequently into image. All the letters of the alphabet are “transmitted” by a man into a woman through rhythmical movements (morse code) as if mirroring the relationship between literacy and patriarchy. The video juxtaposes the written word with the visual processing of its image, exploring the gender implications of this dichotomy and highlighting our culture’s toxic polarity between intellect and intuition.