laocoön

Explores the Zigzag as the virtual and universal “totem of movement“.

For the eccentric and adventurous art historian, Aby Warburg, snakes hold a special significance; especially given his interest in Native American art and culture. Indeed, Warburg felt no disciplinary taboo in creating his own montage across continents and epochs, designed to link formerly (and seemingly) unconnected totemic questions and
phenomena. Thus, modern cinema articulates with Japanese kanji which touches upon classical sculpture which evokes Hopi graphic logic. In doing so, Warburg diagrams a suggestive constellation of kinetic-totemic elements.

“Discussing the [Hopi] snake ritual in his 1923 lecture, Warburg described the dancers as manipulating the reptiles like Eisensteinian hieroglyphs, like montaged images, associating the human form with the symbol Of movement embodied in the snake.” Warburg noted especially the Native American preoccupation with the “zigzag,” which, according to his interpretation, was “a graphic form associated with lightning and with the snake…attributed to untamed energy”

Inspired by Dominic Pettman’s book ‘Look at the Bunny – Totem, Taboo, Technology.’

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