The National Gallery in London is currently exhibiting a selection of Caravaggio’s paintings. The exhibition includes also those that imitated Caravaggio’s style. As I was given the space to compare Caravaggio’s work to his followers I understood which is the factor that glues me in front of any Caravaggio’s work: “the space in between”. When I stop in front of any of his work I have the feeling that the painting is meant to fill the space between myself and the canvas. The scene looks as a suspended action, not a frame, but something that is meant to continue . A looping tableau vivant that never gets completed and it is open to a plethora of interpretations. The way light, colours, characters are composed together makes the scene extend beyond the space of the canvas; time and the subject become relative. The space in between doesn’t have any shape; it is an intimate place that each viewer can design through observation. The space transcends any subject, wether religious or mythological. The subject is the pretest of a superficial interpretation; once indeed the subject disappears, the tension of the space in between bounds the viewer to the painting. The tension is made of different factors: light, position of the character, emergence of part of the scene that hides others, etc. The effect of the painting reaches my senses without any specific reason. The ability of the painter consists indeed in the creation of a suspended place that leaves any viewer the freedom of interpretation. Caravaggio must have been a good observer of street dwellers. His characters’ eyes, facial expressions and body’s posture are his language through which he designs theatrical scenes of chiaroscuros. I suppose that the universality that Caravaggio’s paintings give to any society is given by the freedom each of us has to imagine what we see in it, without any guideline. When visiting the exhibition try to have a go without audio guides!
In our daily life we interact with different “humans” – colleagues, friends, partner(s), family, etc. Our interaction is not at all linear. We get excited (😊), angry (😡 ), annoyed (😒 ). We, humans, react to human to human interactions with emotions, which is a kind of language that expresses our thinking beyond, and within, our social and cultural background. Human emotions can be unpredictable; they constitute the glitch of human interaction, and require some planning and exercise to understand, and possible, predict human reactions.
In our social interaction everyday we are quite often catalogued by data. Our behaviour becomes a cluster of information, which informs patterns that put us in a box. Such system is increasingly becoming the way to get a job, a relationship, a morgage. According to data we are patterns of behaviour that encode the possibility of an event. In her book “Weapons of Math Destruction” Cathy O’Neil describes the frustration of such a system applied to humans. She indeed describes how the pattern based social hierarchy discriminates more than a human based judgment. Such a system, indeed, doesn’t take into account the unpredictable factor of human reactions, the human glitch that makes us diverse, unique and odd, which is the beauty of being human.
Here I am not suggesting any better system, which is capable of encoding the human glitch. Human beings are special animals, which life is made of productive and less productive moments. In this blog I quite often come back to the Roman concept of otium and negotium: enjoy your laziness as much your productive time; otium and negotium are complementary aspects of our being that make us a better humans in society. IN this specific case otium is the glitch. Data are a great system to cluster information that reveals patterns that tell us a different truth. Such truth is not the absolute system of reference, but one of the many that any of us should look at to evaluate decisions, whether it is the case to get pissed off, or the journey we like to take or employing a candidate.