The Telling Image
Each person develops his or her own worldview through a wide variety of experiences and some historical perspective. Lois Farfel Stark, as a photographer and filmmaker, has something of a different lens that has informed her worldview. On her travels all around the world, she found that focusing on the shape of things — the places where people lived and worked and worshipped — and how they were connected would give her real insight to the development of the culture and history of a given people and place. “How we describe the world inscribes our thinking. We can be liberated or locked by how we connect the dots.” This amazing book moves the reader through the development of different societies as viewed through Stark’s wonderful lens beginning with the Web — a rather primitive cultural setting in which a people are living and connected in a way that mimics nature. Circular huts arranged in circular villages or circular kivas arranged in a half circle complex or stone blocks forming circular Stonehenge, all connected to the seasons and movement of the sun. “The Inuit language contains no word for angle, because all of nature comes in curves.”
As people moved into agrarian societies, and populations grew, a new model was created. Straight rows, brick buildings, and a hierarchy of power grew. The ladder model is represented in squares, pyramids, and grids. This is where we see the inception of cities and, as time goes on, vertical builds. “The defect with the grid is isolation.” That defect is what leads to the next two generations of shape — the helix and, finally, the network, made possible by computers with their ability to work massive calculations. Most people today agree that connectivity defines our time. Not satisfied to discuss what has been and what is, Stark takes a look toward the future and what kind of patterns might be be anticipated beyond the now.
Author and photographer, Stark has put together an astonishing book that shows her vision of the world as it has been and is today and what the world might be come in the future. The spectacular photography in this book would be reason enough to spend time with it, but the writing is, in my opinion, even better, and is the perfect complement to the photographs. Reading this will provide a perspective on the cultural history of man and how societies are shaped. This basically a delightful short course in cultural anthropology with an eye toward the shapes created by man. This is a book that should not be missed and deserves a wide readership.
Greenleaf Book Group
Lois Farfel Stark