Renaissance book ideas – Despotism

From reading the new book I got “The Civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy” by Jacob Burckhardt I have been thinking over the idea which the author discusses in the first chapter – Despotism – and how this could be reflected into the context of the 21st century.

Found this definition of Despotism on wikipedia – Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. That entity may be an individual, as in anautocracy, or it may be a group,[1] as in an oligarchy. The word despotism means to “rule in the fashion of a despot” and does not necessarily require a singular “despot”, an individual.

During the 14th and 15th centuries there were many of these despot states within the Renaissance world, where leaders and families would fight for control of their territories, often with conflict and betrayals ending one rule, beginning a fresh one and repeating often. The inevitable violence that ensued from the way these states were run produced revolt and Tyrannicide, where groups of people would plot to overthrow the existing tyrant in power. Giovanni Boccaccio, and Italian author and poet famously stated:

Shall I call the tyrant king or prince, and obey him loyally as my lord? No, for he is the enemy of the commonwealth. Against him I may use arms, conspiracies, spies, ambushes and fraud; to do so is a sacred and necessary work. There is no more acceptable sacrifice than the blood of a tyrant.

In the context of the 21st century, similar events around the globe, mainly in the middle east could be compared to the events of these despot states in the Renaissance era. The Arab Spring beginning in 2010 witnessed the people of countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Bahrain rise up against the ruling government of these states who often displayed characteristics of dictatorships. The violent overthrowing of the current regime to form a new one draws parallels with the events of the Renaissance states, the wars in Iraq and the situation developing in Iran are also good examples of “regime change”.

The role of technology on the ground is also an aspect to think about in relation to this subject, would these revolutions have taken shape the way they have done without the coverage of global television reporting or without the use of Twitter and Facebook, the Egyptian government restricted access to the Internet during the trouble there in an effort to stop the protestors communicating.

I have not completed the full chapter of the book where Burckhardt discuses these characteristics in relation to the Renaissance yet, but the books has definatly got me thinking about how our countries are run, how we interact with other nations and how technology is used as a tool for the people of the countries to communicate as opposed to the governments speaking for them.

Body and beauty in the 21st century update

Been working on this for a few weeks now, playing around with layouts and designs, still not got my website sorted out so don’t have the server space to upload it. Still not had a good think about making it mobile friendly yet which I think is going to cause some major problems.

Gif image experiment

Been messing about with gifs on dreamweaver and how they will look in a browser. I’ve made these images as an experiment and they work fine, obviously need to align them better when using real images.

Possible project visualisation

Quite like the duality of a project like this. Both outcomes, physical and virtual, could feed off of each other and create a good amount of development as they progress. Below I’ve thrown together a quick visualisation showing a physical work and its counterpart on the net. For the site I am not fussed about having a strict structure and would quite like for things to be dotted about.

In terms of the physical work, these are only representation and would ideally like to create images with alot of elements involving appropriated images, the gradients I have been looking at and some digital painting.

Globalisation (3)

The idea of Globalisation has got me thinking about working with maps and countries in some form. It would be quite good to study the effects of the sovereigns states and the relationship between these on a world level.


I like the idea of these internet maps as well

Reflection (3) – Stealing from the Internet

I have been thinking recently about sourcing images from the web and if I should do it or not, I stole images for the Celtic Rangers and Palestine works whereas in work images must be purchased off of iStock before putting them into whatever your doing.

I remember a Eva and Franco Mattes interview where they state that the Internet should be an open source network where everything can be distributed and reused by anyone without charge. I also mention in the main points for the Digital Renaissance that the Internet was an important tool in contemporary society, if we can view images and videos of global issues on the net and have the ability to copy and reuse them then why shouldn’t we if we are trying to make our own points about them.

The act of appropriation and manipulation of assets from the net is something that I have gradually became more interested in and I no longer feel bad about doing it. The Internet to me is a vast sea of source material that can be fused together or torn apart in the creation of new works and ideas, the Dada artists stole from newspapers etc to put in their works, Duchamp stole everyday objects without changing them at all. To not steal from the Internet would be to disregard a valuable resource for information and content.

Back to the Digital Renaissance

I think the rebirth that I feel is happening is in the ability to find out and research what is happening on all corners of the globe at almost a moments notice – the rebirth through technology is in the development of our world view by being able to contribute or find out about foreign causes, or to become journalists in our right with the tools to be able to communicate and share news and information without much media control, websites such as Twitter and even Facebook, among many others, provide platforms for us to do so.

Ultimately I feel that the opinions and customs of cultures and individuals are developing to incorporate this idea of the ‘world view’ , with the rise of technologies being the catalyst for this. Even if I look at my work along with undertaking the MA, websites are being built for clients in several countries, we discuss art related stuff on Mondays with others from different parts of the world who we may not have ever met all through the use of technologies with programmes such as Skype etc.

This is where I feel the core of the Digital Renaissance lies.