Thursday, December 6, 2018

Offset Dislocation

This concept comes from the book The Self-Made Tapestry by Philip Ball, which I speak about in this post.

Offset Disclocation as a concept arose in the section of the book that looks at how markings occur in on biological bodies. This includes phenomenon such as zebra stripes, fish banding, and butterfly wings. Each organism has its own approach to this and so Philip goes through many potential routes. The implications of the principles he engages take him all the way to pondering how a fetus knows where to place its head and fingers (more on that in a post dedicated to ‘Diffusion Fields’). Very cool.

An Offset Dislocation is like a tectonic fault line. A road is going along and then suddenly, after an earthquake, there is a split that cuts across the land and the road is now a shifted few feet to the side. In this concept, the entire field suddenly shift along a a specific (or sometimes gradual) fracture line.

This artwork of mine is almost, but not quite this idea:

In the artwork I was envisioning the path as though cut into sections and jumbled rather than  continuous with dislocations occurring. there are a couple spots where the dislocation might be occurring, but you get the point! The idea of fractures has come up many times for me, but I haven’t quite gotten it integrated into an artwork- yet.

What appeals to me about the concept of ‘Offset Dislocation’ is the idea of a process occuring and then suddenly, upon crossing a threshold, the whole field adjusts itself in some way while that process may still be occurring. Often the initial pattern becomes much more complex through this experience as in the shifting bands of a butterfly wing. There arises a distinct boundary on either side of which something distinct, yet the same, is going on. An easy physical example is an exposed hillside rock layer where bands of sediment are suddenly shifted along a crack due to regional uplift.

Have you ever had the experience of being in conversation with another person and then suddenly there is the uncomfortable awareness that you are not quite sure if you are actually certain of what is being spoken, yet the conversation has continued and gotten deeper? This happened to me on occasion when in loud music environments where it wasn’t uncommon to miss a crucial word and then continue forth unsure of why I was feeling puzzled by the current conversation (made more awkward when the topic was something delicate and personal!). The situation can have the feel that me and the other person have had an Offset Dislocation occur between us. Both folks have slid a few feet sideways to each other- the same conversation is happening but it now looks different for both.

Offset Dislocation is the feeling of having a new awareness and then its as though your entire being has just shifted over. The process of your life continues but something fundamental has changed. Perhaps endings and beginnings are this way- a relationship starting or ending, a new job or home, even learning things in school- the pattern of the self may remain relatively the same yet with a major (or perhaps minor) adjustment that in the ‘zoomed out’ perspective can be seen to have changed the overall pattern yet the pattern still felt unified and connected. There is a distinct offset dislocation at the moment my son was born. Its still me, but there is a clear distinction between the before-son and after-son lives.

Any Offset Dislocations in your life...?

I’ll update this post when I make an artwork that more fully embodies this concept. 

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