Coded Realities

No. 1 - Year 4 - 12/2013

Editorial

The seventh issue of [sic] was conceived as an open-themed issue, unrestricted by a specific topic, genre or mood. Yet, the papers that made it through the review process all seem to remind the readers that our reality is coded in so many ways. Whether it is by means of a literal code, such as the one used between the brothers Vrančić, one a cardinal and writer, the other a diplomat and poet, to prevent others from reading their letters, or a less conspicuous one, such as the one that transforms reality into reality TV, our literature, art and culture seem to rely heavily on cyphers, secrets and the tension between the real and the false. At times, in Grand-Guignol, the boundaries between viewing a play and witnessing a violent act become blurred as the viewer unintentionally becomes a witness or even the perpetrator of violent acts represented (faked!) on a stage in order to seem real. Questions of (in)authenticity and the construction of personal or cultural identity also contribute to our sense of our life, our very existence being coded intentionally and unintentionally in a myriad of ways. ..

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Featuring

Idemo do plaže spasiti ptiće da se ne udave. Obučem traperice i debelu vestu preko pidžame. Dok piškim u hladnoj kupaonici, mokraća mi isparava. Tata svojim koracima prodrma i razbudi cijelu kuću. Idemo, kaže s prstom u uhu. Kad izađemo van, lice mi se stisne od hladnoće. Jučer sam izgubio rukavicu, tako da golu ruku trpam duboko u džep, zajedno sa šmrkavim maramicama i fosilima. Na vrhu litice izraslo je novo cvijeće. Tata ga očeše potplatom čizme. Nisam siguran zašto to radi, ali čini se da je zadovoljan.Na pjeskovitoj nizbrdici nema drugih tragova osim naših. Jednom sam ovdje pao, davno, porezao lice na travu, koja u čupercima raste poput zakopanih jastučića za pribadače. Imam blijedosrebrni ožiljak na licu. U obliku ptičjeg stopala. Tata juri dugim korakom, a ja se izmičem pijesku koji zabacuje iza sebe dok trči. Već je ugledao ptića morske laste na plaži pri dnu litice. Isprva, riba koja mu je zapela u grlu izgleda kao dugi jezik. Ptić baca glavu u stranu, onda ponire naprijed, gušeći se. Par koraka naprijed, zatetura pod težinom ribe pa se uspravi....

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During the period of their correspondance, the brothers Mihovil and Antun Vrančić would occasionaly write messages in code: Antun in a letter written while on a diplomatic mission in Paris in 1546, and Mihovil in four letters written in Šibenik some twelve years later. While conducting the necessary research required for our investigation, we discovered that one letter had, until now, remained unknown. We succeeded in deciphering Mihovil's system of signs by comparing the frequency of signs in the coded parts of the text with the frequency of signs in those parts of his letter composed in Latin script. The majority of the signs are derived from the Latin script and only their quality has beeen changed. It seems that this was influenced by the Polygraphia, a work by the then contemporary cryptographer Iohannes Trithemius. In addition, a certain number of Arabic signs as well as signs from other scripts have been included.Most of the hidden content deals with investments in real estate and other buisiness ventures, thus the purpose of this secret system of writing was evidently to prevent the competition from gaining a possible advantage over Antun and Mihovil. At the time, after a four-year diplomamtic embassy position in Turkey, Antun had been awarded by the Emperor Ferdinand and his income had increased significantly. The need for caution and discretion is evident in two messages in which we find Mihovil warning his brother to be wary of two other brothers who have a dubious moral reputation....

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The paper analyzes the use of humor in the work of Luiseno artist James Luna. Utilizing the media of performance, photography and installation, using himself as the object of representation, Luna has created a recognizable artistic style that addresses the complex issues of American Indian identity and representation. His installations The End of the Frail (1990-91) and The Artifact Piece (1987, 1990) both point at the constructed nature of Native identity. Whereas the former employs satire, self-stereotyping, parody and humor to expose and confront the colonial myths, distorted attitudes and pictographic representations of Native Americans, the latter addresses the issues of Native absence and invisibility in the dominant culture. Representing himself as an artifact to provoke laughter, shock and discomfort, in The Artifact Piece Luna clearly disclosed the relationship between Western institutions of knowledge and the culture of the spectacle. Both installations draw attention to the tie between imperialism and material forms of production and representation, indicating the still ongoing institutional investment in Native allegorization through commodification and scientific practices, the fact that even today Native American identity is compromised by the colonial discourse and its disciplinary practices and imagination. Using Bhabha’s concepts of mimicry and hybridity, Bakhtin’s theory of humor and Vizenor’s trickster holotrope, our analysis discusses the subversive potential of Luna’s auto-ethnographic project, its potential to deconstruct the meta-narratives of Otherness and colonization, and create new spaces for social dialogue and cultural survival. ...

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During the sixty-year period of its existence, Grand-Guignol, the French theatre of horror, gained a status of a legendary theatre which dealt with horrors and terrors of human mind, successfully connecting faits divers (common, everyday facts) with the erotic and titillating scenes of violence on stage. The performance style, the writing, the special effects, and the directorship over the course of years, made this theatre a legendary place where blood flowed in streams and people fainted during performances, in this way making its indelible mark in horror genre today. In this paper, the author is trying to focus the attention on the theatre of Grand-Guignol as a form of violent entertainment and the way the representations of violence and horror enacted on its stage affected the audience, through Goldstein’s theory of the importance of visual imagery in different media today. Furthermore, through comparison of violent acts presented on the stage of the Grand-Guignol and the atmosphere they create in the viewer’s mind with some of the aspects of Artaud’s vision of his theatre of cruelty, the author attempts to show how this form of violent entertainment in the theatrical media influences the vision of that same violence within the audience, with the sense of security as the main idea in which the viewers feel safe to enjoy, envision and in a way become the participants in the performances enacted on the small stage of the Grand-Guignol. ...

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