Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Friday, August 9, 2013

Devil as Image and Icon

I see things in patterns- how colors, forms, and lines come together. When I take notes in a book, it is the pattern my highlighting and notes form that are what I learn and reference, and that make it easy to find references, not the individual words on the page.
So, perhaps it makes perfect sense as I begin to think more and more on my thesis, and the introduction, that it is the images that keep popping up in my mind.

To start, if you're going to write your dissertation on Satan, it's hard to miss the imagery. If you're going to trace his history in a way that hasn't been done before, the art, the images, the icon, becomes part of the story that gets told.
It's also probably no surprise to anyone who knows that my research interests also lie with popular culture, that the image below is how I see this unfolding. Large, gigantic images on a screen, that appear one way to the audience, and then come to appear in a completely different way upon examination.

Depending on your background, you may recognize the classical artistic interpretations of Satan first. But perhaps recognize is not the word. You may not recognize the context, or the artist, but you KNOW who the figure is.
Maybe the Satan of popular culture is more familiar to you- Al Pacina, Robert DeNiro, Peter Stormare, Viggo Mortensen. Perhaps less with these than the classical art, but you probably recognize the character they play, even if you haven't seen the movie they play it in. While the imagery of Satan has changed, and evolved over the years, he is still a character you KNOW.

So HOW do you know? What is it that allows this character to be recognizable across so many different generations, platforms, and backgrounds?
Is it that religion is so prevalent in everyone's every day lives? I would argue not.
Is it that he's remained static, and therefore it's the icon people recognize and not the character? Again, I would argue not, as the brief slideshow above demonstrates.
Is it instead that WHO this character is, WHAT he represents is so much a part of our common knowledge, that we are able to KNOW him, even if we can't place the details? Yes. It is this folkloric trait, this characteristic of Satan that has not been explored, and which I plan on illustrating in depth.

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