EIDOLON – An Illusion or a Reality?

What would you think if someone told you that “our time here is myth”? Our lives are stuck in images and centred around images almost in its entirety. The digital world today has a huge impact on our lives today and pictures have become one of the primary medium of communications. Although have you ever thought that what we see are mere impressions and the “reality”.

Do you know why Google images was crated? In 2000 Jennifer Lopez wore a green Jungle – print dress designed by Versace; the dress was so iconic that it broke the internet. Google had to create Google Images just to keep up with the images of it. While we say that a picture speaks a thousand words, it surely has become apt in the 21st century. Until that point Google was only a text-based search engine, but so many people searched for Jennifer Lopez’s dress on Google that they had to come up with a solution.

EIDOLON by Xanthe Dobbie is a mesmerizing dedication to the conception of ‘image’ which is a Greek mythological notion which is essentially attributed to the ‘Helen of Troy’. An EIDOLON which literally means an idealized person or a thing. Hence it is basically a carbon copy or a clone as to simplify it. According to the Greek mythological history, Helen of Troy’s face launched a thousand ships that then started the war that lasted for a decade. Although, as the story goes, it is said that Helen never really went to Troy, instead her EIDOLON was sent to Troy by the Gods. The war that stretched for ten years was fought for a face, rather a copy of the face was sent.

While speaking to Ellen for Carve on 2SER, Xanthe Dobbie, the media artist whose online and offline works is projected in capturing the experience of modernism and the contemporary world through queer and feminist ideologies; spoke about the inspiration for this digital performance. She tells an amazing story behind this creative piece. While solving a trivia quiz on Cosmopolitan magazine, she across the Jenifer Lopez and Google image story. As she often inclines to find motivation and inspiration for her art in mythologies, she stumbled upon the story of Helen of Troy; this sparked the creation of EIDOLON.

Xanthe further mentions that Jenifer Lopez in a way represents the contemporary form of EIDOLON. An image or face is being shared so many times and every time no less than a copy of the original. A picture or a photo represents merely a copy of the original, meaning it is in a true sense, not a “real image”. During the chat with Ellen, Xanthe quotes “Nothing here is flesh, it is all documentation” to explain the very ideology behind google images or images being shared in digital media and how it symbolises the very notion of copy that resembles perfectly the original but is far from it. Ellen and Xanthe touched on a very crucial aspect of the concept behind it all, is everything just a repetition of what has happened, a recording of the reality? Xanthe calls it ‘binary territory’, things that are online or digitised and not in the real world per se. It is difficult to find authenticity with our lives caught up between real world and online world. We have come further from the truth and tend to visualise the elements of reality in the form of online pictures, videos, etc.

The most fascinating thing that represents this idea of documentation in Xanthe’s work on Eidolon is of the clipping of David Attenborough, which gives an edge to the notion of post-truth era that we all are an active part of. While talking about the remarkable audio-video performance that Xanthe created, she says that although the final product was a one-take it took her several rehearsals and involves lot of intricate work of sound and attaching slides or video bits to it. Xanthe is a perfectionist and is a colour pallet and compositionally powered artist which has then come out as a remarkable performance of Eidolon.

Head over to the 2 ser website – Eidolon: Xanthe Dobbie – 2SER to hear in more detail about the fascinating anecdotes of Xanthe’s creation.

Tuesday 24th of August, 2021

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