Jackson Lukas

VFX Artist, Hair and Fur

Selected Works



February, 2018

The School of Athens, Raphael, Apostolic Palace, The Vatican

        Above is Rapheal’s fresco, The School of Athens, finished in 1511.  This painting is important for the Atlas of Mythologies because it’s an example of an artist using painting and architecture as storytelling mediums to explain changes in what for Raphael was his contemporary Europe.  For the thesis Raphael isn’t important, but drawing a parallel between the fresco to Mark Foster Gage and Rem Koolhaas is. The painting features prominent figures from ancient Greek philosophy, notably Plato and Aristotle. The gestures of these figures tell a story about changes in European thinking at the time, and reflect burgeoning progressive ideas in the Renaissance for epistemology. One could argue that architecture was largely responsible for this change thanks to Bruneleschi who invented perspective in drawing, or rather discovered it. This would have an effect over the next 250 years of shifting the landscape of knowledge from God-centric to human-centric.

        Raphael’s painting through the narrative lens of 300 BC Athens depicts this shift.  In the center of the painting Aristotle (younger) is seen walking slightly ahead of Plato with his finger pointing down, while Plato points up to the sky.  The men appear to be engaged in a conversation, their eyes meeting. The gestures of the hands index their respective epistemological positions; in Plato’s Apology he argues for the synthesis of knowledge through the Forms, and argues that ideas come from somewhere else, a divine source, a source other than this world and contests this through the voice of Socrates, while in Aristotle’s writings, he argues for the derivation of knowledge from the world and from our experiences.  This epistemological rift between empiricism and innate Platonic Ideals represented in the painting parallels European thinking at the time in fields like religion, astronomy, politics and art that would turn to Greek and Roman humanities in which gods were often comparable with humans, were given human qualities, and made imperfect so that their actions and behaviors could be better understood as archetypes of mankind’s own social experience.

        Raphael used painting and a historical precedent as storytelling mediums to express a changing European world, just as artists and architects like Mark Foster Gage and Rem Koolhaas use architecture to mythologize topics in the modern world and explain changes in contemporary epistemologies.  The work of these figures is important for this thesis’ exploration of myth. For the case of both architects, this thesis will argue that their work emphasizes epistemology as a contingent, impermanent, imperfect and esoteric experience. However, their departures from one another exist in the foundations they took to make their arguments about epistemology, Rem synthesizing his work through the Paranoiac Critic Method and Gage through Object Oriented Ontology.

        Both PCM and OOO have much in common. Respectively, PCM is a view that rejects the existence of an objective logic. It seeks to undermine the notion that humans are rational beings, and says instead that reality is an esoteric construct of desires, unconscious patterns and conditioned behaviors. The work of the Surrealists seeks to upset the viewer by stimulating the unconscious. Triple O argues for a flattening of objects, a removal of hierarchy from everything and argues for the primacy of philosophy in the discourse of ontology.  On the back of OOO many argue that media has been “flattened,” that the primacy or truthiness from one piece of information to another, like a news story, is flat, meaning there is no greater truth value in one thing over another.  Both seek to undermine a notion that truth exists somewhere, PCM saying there can be no objective truth or logic but only the perspective of many individuals, and OOO saying similarly that truth can never emerge in a world where hierarchy doesn’t exist.

        As for Koolhaas and Gage, the differences between their arguments lay in their uses of PCM and OOO; so It’s here that the thesis argues that myth need not emphasize the Paranoiac Critic or OOO, respectively for Delirious New York, and Gage’s Aesthetic Disruption of The Real, above the other. Both are valid for myth. Rather these foundations can be interchanged or removed altogether for two reasons.  First, both PCM and OOO argue that epistemology, for PCM a form of analyzing and generating knowledge, and OOO as an object, is ontologically level and flat in it’s truth values according to OOO. Second, both ways of establishing logical a priori systems for how knowledge functions should be refused undermined and rejected in the case of PCM. Instead the arguments of these two men in their work fall conditionally at two critical times and places, Rem in the middle of the 20th century and Gage in the early 21st century and they take their respective positions with the tools present.