The Pictorial Bible II: Seal Up the Vision and Prophecy


2007-11-01-(b1)

The Pictorial Bible series explores ways in which biblical texts can be visualised, without recourse to figuration or illustration, within a non-iconic framework of religious art. The series represents a coming together of two faculties (believing and seeing); two cultures (the Bible and visuality); and two disciplines, principally (biblical studies and art practice). Within the network of these interactions, the works are concerned with visualising biblical texts with reference to a tradition – espoused by Judaism and aniconic sensibilities within Christianity – that is predicated upon the illegitimacy of pictorialising spiritual concepts and scriptural stories and events.

The second project in the series is based upon writings by visionary prophets from the Old and New Testaments. The prophetic books, especially Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation, are intensely visual. However, this is not the reason I chose to adapt texts from the prophetic books. Indeed, I have studiously avoided engaging with texts that describe highly visual and often visualised material. There seems little justification for ploughing the same furrow when the vast majority of prophetic texts remain unconsidered from a visual point of view.

Vision and prophecy are often synonymous in the Christian Bible. One of the Hebrew words for prophecy (chazah) means ‘to see in vision’ (Isa. 30: 10). Visions could be either internal, appearing as ‘visions of thy head’ (Hebrew chezev) (Dan. 2: 28) or as perceptible apparitions (Hebrew marah; Greek optasia) (Ezk. 8: 4; Lk 1: 22). Visions were thus not only a medium of disclosure and reception (the conduit of communication between the divine and the human) but also a message – in the form of teaching, admonition, warning, and foretelling. God’s command to Daniel to ‘seal up the vision and prophecy’ has been interpreted as an instruction to the prophet to make the impression of a seal upon the writing so as to accredit it, or to seal it up (its function finished) so as to signify redundancy. In the context of the project, the concept is understood metaphorically as the act of enclosing, binding up, and securing together vision and prophecy, the visual and the textual, so that we may, in the words of the writer of Proverbs, ‘perceive the word’ (Prov. 1: 2).

The artworks continue to explore the potential for biblical texts to yield procedural systems and structures as a basis for visual images. They engage further the delimitations and determinations of the source, deploy alphabetic and numerical sequences, codified letter-strands, architectonic proportions and shapes, recurrent patterns, exegetical processes, cross-referencing, and typographical abstractions. At the same time, the works (once again) address the historical and cultural background of Old and New Testaments, and Protestant Reformation piety: its literature, music, pedagogy, and devotional practices. The new works fall into four related categories: codified texts; page pictures; inscription images; and codified images.


Works

Click on the coloured numerals to open captioned pdf versions of the artworks, and upon the thumbnails to open enlargements of the same:

06/1One Jot or One Tittle’
06/2 Philadelphia
07/1The First Day’
07/2 X
07/3 Ikon/iPod: Magnificat
07/4 ‘Write the Vision and Make it Plain upon Tables’
07/5 Bible Studies: Lamentations (‘He Hath … Pulled Me to Pieces’)
07/6 No It Al[l] Ever: 1137–52 (1137)
07/7 Foundation Piece II


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Exhibition installation, Works from The Pictorial Bible Series, Wesley’s Chapel and Museum, London, Nov. 1, 2007 – Jan. 8, 2008