9 August 2010

The 'totem'

When I blogged the Matthew Dear 'Totem' format earlier, I didn't immediately make the connection between it and the totems used in the film Inception. The latter are devices that the characters use to help determine the difference between dream states and consciousness and include the pictured spinning top that behaves in a specific way that helps clarify what is and isn't reality. [I'm trying not to post anything that might be considered a 'spoiler'.]

This and Dear's totem perhaps generates a whole dialogue about how we attach meaning to objects. Getting deeper into that discussion, it might be off-putting should it verge on the quasi-religious yet ultimately we are actually talking about a question of faith. Belief allows for the perception of items as having deeper symbolic meaning: most often associated with decorative artefacts with examples dating back to the Stone Age. Yet functional products can take on significance outside of their primary purpose. The research that I've undertaken over the past couple of weeks increasingly supports the idea that music formats do this: transmitting information aside from the audio and visual material that they carry. This cultural theory aspect is possibly something I need to consider further to refine my rationale. Maybe while noting its relationship to Benjamin's "aura" and Baudrillard's "simulacrum".


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