Project: Ideas Factory
Initially, the word "Animism" was unfamiliar to me, so I decided to start my research from the the very bottom; defining it.
"Animism (from Latin anima, "breath, spirit, life") is the religious belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Potentially, animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork, and perhaps even words—as animated and alive."
"The idea of animism was developed by the anthropologist Sir Edward Tylor in his 1871 book Primitive Culture, in which he defined it as "the general doctrine of souls and other spiritual beings in general." According to Tylor, animism often includes "an idea of pervading life and will in nature"; i.e., a belief that natural objects other than humans have souls."
"Elements of animism are present in many false religions including Hinduism, Mormonism and all New Age cults. False religion always teaches in some way that the spirit within human beings is really God and the practices of the religion will help us to realize this and develop the god-spirit so that we, too, may be God."
"Animism is the belief that all things have a spirit or soul, including animals, plants, rivers, mountains, stars, the moon, and the sun. Each being is considered a spirit that can offer help or harm to humans. As such, spirits must either be worshiped or appeased. Animists offer sacrifices, prayers, dances, or other forms of devotions to these spirits in hopes of blessing upon areas of life (crops, health, fertility, etc.) or for protection from harm."
"Today, Animism continues in most tribal religious movements, in Shinto, in eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, and in Pagan/Neopagan movements. In addition to believing inanimate objects have spirits, many believe in revering the spirits of ancestors who have an influence on those who are living. This is a noted practice in Shinto and forms of Native American spirituality, among others.
It is important to note that not all religious scholars define Animism the same way. Some view Animism as a belief or practice while some classify Animism as its own religion. Since many religions practice Animism, it is generally better to consider it a belief. In addition, most Animist cultures have an overall "religion" rather than understanding itself an Animistic Religion."
From the above information, it can be said that;
- Animism is the belief that all matter is alive, in the sense that it has a soul/spirit.
- Each being is considered to be a spirit, in the sense of a deity, that can give good or bad fortune
- Thus, each being is to be worshipped, through song, sacrifice, dance, ritual, devotion etc
Questions I have;
- How is worship divided among various beings? Surely each animist cannot worship every single object on earth. Does each individual or household perhaps, choose an object or group of objects that they worship?
"........A central concern of animist thought surrounds how animals can be eaten or otherwise used for humans' subsistence needs. The actions of non-human animals are viewed as "intentional, planned and purposive", and they are understood to be persons because they are both alive and communicate with others. In animist worldviews, non-human animals are understood to participate in kinship systems and ceremonies with humans, as well as having their own kinship systems and ceremonies.
Some animists also view plant and fungi life as persons and interact with them accordingly. The most common encounter between humans and these plant and fungi persons is with the former's collection of the latter for food, and for animists this interaction typically has to be carried out respectfully. Harvey cited the example of Maori communities in New Zealand, who often offer karakia invocations to sweet potatoes as they dig the latter up; while doing so there is an awareness of a kinship relationship between the Maori and the sweet potatoes, with both understood as having arrived in Aotearoa together in the same canoes. In other instances, animists believe that interaction with plant and fungi persons can result in the communication of things unknown or even otherwise unknowable. Among some modern Pagans, for instance, relationships are cultivated with specific trees, who are understood to bestow knowledge or physical gifts, such as flowers, sap, or wood that can be used as firewood or to fashion into a wand; in return, these Pagans give offerings to the tree itself, which can come in the form of libations of mead or ale, a drop of blood from a finger, or a strand of wool.
Various animistic cultures also comprehend as stones as persons. Discussing ethnographic work conducted among the Ojibwe, Harvey noted that their society generally conceived of stones as being inanimate, but with two notable exceptions: the stones of the Bell Rocks and those stones which are situated beneath trees struck by lightning, which were understood to have become Thunderers themselves. The Ojibwe conceived of weather as being capable of having personhood, with storms being conceived of as persons known as 'Thunderers' whose sounds conveyed communications and who engaged in seasonal conflict over the lakes and forests, throwing lightning at lake monsters. Wind, similarly, can be conceived as a person in animistic thought.
The importance of place is also a recurring element of animism, with some places being understood to be persons in their own right.
As a base case study, my group chose to focus on the Maori tribe of New Zealand, is Animism is their traditional religion. We decided to look into their customs, cultural art pieces, and traditions to learn more about them in relation to animism. We found that one deep rooted custom that stood out among many was that of the Maori tattoo, referred to as Ta Moko.
"Tā moko is the permanent body and face marking by Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. Traditionally it is distinct from tattoo and tatau in that the skin was carved by uhi (chisels) rather than punctured. This left the skin with grooves, rather than a smooth surface. The Tohunga tā moko (or tattooists) were considered tapu, or inviolable and sacred."
"Tattoo arts are common in the Eastern Polynesian homeland of Māori, and the traditional implements and methods employed were similar to those used in other parts of Polynesia (see Buck 1974:296, cited in References below). In pre-European Māori culture, many if not most high-ranking persons received moko, and those who went without them were seen as persons of lower social status. Receiving moko constituted an important milestone between childhood and adulthood, and was accompanied by many rites and rituals. Apart from signalling status and rank, another reason for the practice in traditional times was to make a person more attractive to the opposite sex. Men generally received moko on their faces, buttocks (raperape) and thighs (puhoro). Women usually wore moko on their lips (kauwae) and chins. Other parts of the body known to have moko include women's foreheads, buttocks, thighs, necks and backs and men's backs, stomachs, and calves."
Questions I have
- How is the maori tattoo related to their religion of Animism?
As a material, my group received light ss a material. We decided to not look at light directly, but laterally, as something that affects other materials. Using that viewpoint, we came across the following (smart) materials that involve light or light stimuli;
("Smart materials are designed materials that have one or more properties that can be significantly changed in a controlled fashion by external stimuli, such as stress, temperature, moisture, pH, electric or magnetic fields.")
Photochromic Pigment - such pigments usually have an off-white appearance, but when introduced to UV light, they change colour
Photochromic Ink - This is ink containing aforementioned photochromic pigment, that when applied to a surface initially appears colourless but changes colour when introduced to sunlight.
Glow in the dark Pigment - After exposure to natural/artificial light, this pigment absorbs and stores energy to produce an afterglow in the absence of light
For a process, we got the word "hide".
In the modern world of today, with technology getting more advanced, there have already been several advances in digital software, including that of virtual reality.
Virtual reality can be defined as ....."the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors."
In relation to the topic "hiding", virtual reality can be said to both conceal and reveal different worlds from/to the unknowing individual, hiding it from their own personal reality.
Nicholas Nixon - The Brown Sisters.
For a duration of over 40 years, Nixon took pictures of the same women, the Brown sisters, in the exact same position. The fact that they were in the same position each time made comparing and contrasting quite easy. The passing of time and the differences that created were clear to spot and follow. Keeping the structure of the images the same helps you see the difference much easier.
Susan Hiller - After the Fried Museum
The artist made her own collection in response to that collection. Things are arranged particularly, very carefully, the way you'd expect to see items in a museum. However, what was inside the boxes was much different; very intimate and personal. WHen you group things together, you're naturally forced to make links between them. So although the collection appears very rigid, set in stone, the audience is invited to engage with the given information and make their own connections.
Dieter Roth - Flat Waste
Roth was famous for working with waste products and perishable food. In this case, everything was to be less than 5cm wide. Unlike Song Wong, their was no selection here. He just took everything he came in contact with.
Haim Steinbach - Once Again the World Flat
In his work, Steinbach often uses objects from others. He incorporates architectural instllation into his work; he often builds shelves to display his work.