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- Is sameness, the basis,
the foundation layer of the Image v2
part I

,  par Hervé BERNARD dit RVB

Is sameness, the basis, the foundation layer of image ?

This question is a magnifying through the image understanding.
This lecture is a quest through sameness, a path across etymology, synonymous and samples of images which I made or not.
This question is in the heart of the conflict about images between Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
This question is a point of view for trying to understand what makes a piece of art and more widely a picture.

 1 What is sameness
What I found strange is the confusion made by wikipedia and others between sameness and identity. As far as I know, identity means equal, at least in french. Even, the equality could be subject to debate. Anyway, sameness can’t be equality or identity.

1580s, from same + -ness.
perhaps abstracted from Old English swa same “the same as,” ; identity ; absence of difference ; near resemblance ; correspondence ; similarity, bring alike, equivalent... Synonyms and Sameness, Identity. Sameness may be internal or external ; identity is internal or essential : as, sameness of personal appearance. And for sure, if all this words exist it is because they are not totally identical.

The negation of otherness.
word-forming element denoting action, quality, or state, attached to an adjective or past participle to form an abstract noun, from Old English -nes(s).
But sameness could also be the quality of wearisome constancy, routine, the sameness of an unchangeable being, tedious monotony, a tiring lack of variety ; monotony. In the time when day follows day in dull, unexpected sameness, and trial is a dreary routine,—it is then that despair threatens […]. There, we wont speak about this sort of sameness.

Identity c. 1600, “sameness, oneness, state of being the same,” from Middle French identité (14c.), from Medieval Latin identitatem (nominative identitas) “sameness,” ultimately from Latin idem (neuter). Earlier form of the word in English was idemptitie (1560s), from Medieval Latin idemptitas. Term identity crisis first recorded 1954. Identity theft attested from 1995 due to the increase through internet.

Sameness, identity or similarity ?
Sameness is not identity. But mathematics identity is speaking about absolute equality. Does it mean identity, equality are not sameness ? Are two identical objects they same ? Two identical objects are the same but two like objects are not identical. Is identity a higher degre of sameness ? Can two identical objects be the same ?

With la carte d’identité, french is speaking about your personal specifications i.e size, eyes color, hairs colors, if you are wearing glasses and so and... That means a lot of your physical particularities, so something which is characterizing your specifications. It is speaking about something which make you belong to a population. A level of sameness which erase your particularity but at the same time confirms your particularities.

Having your french carte d’identité is saying you are french that mean that everyone who holds that identity, has a common specification between them : they are French. This identity paper give sameness (of rights and obligations) to all French citizens. And this identity is belonging to all the french. This make a difference with other Earth Citizen. This difference includes other differences. So identité in french is speaking about two opposites meaning : the absolute difference and the absolute sameness. Who said french are Cartesian ?

Where is the sameness between a logotype and the firm which it is symbolized by. Same for your avatar(s) on FB or another (social) network and you. Most of them are physically different fom your face… You may did it on purpose to avoid identity theft. But you say they represent(s) yourself. So where is the sameness between your avatar and yourself. Could be a color, a dynamic, ideological one : if you choose Marx as an avatar... Does it mean you are communist ? or at least you find his theory more than interesting.

Is similarity a degree of sameness or a less powerful one ?
Elsewhere, is sameness linked to equality ? Depends which equality we are speaking about : the mathematical, the political or the physical one... The first one is far more than sameness because in mathematics two equations are identical if there is NO difference between them.

For the second one, the equality exists only if many people receive the same thing(s) on a legal point of vue. That’s involved different people could receive the same thing but this doesn’t mean a sameness exists between them beyond the fact they receive the same things. Education is a sample of this. Receiving the same education at school does’nt mean you are equal but it is a condition to work toward this equality.

Another good illustration is the equality man-woman. Many objectors to equality make a confusion between equality and sameness. There is no relationship between equality of rights and sameness even if having an equality of rights is a sort, a kind, a type of sameness between citizens of one country or company staff.

 2 Types of sameness
The horror of the similarity or the unmanageable similarity. In some traditions when a woman give birth to twins. One, or both of them are killed.
Is sameness linked to perception
 Visual :
3D one
If it‘s right this means there are differents sameness or at list different scales.
Does semantic or linguistics sameness exist ? See synonym, homonym, anagram... An anagram include the same letters but not the same meaning. The equality is defined by the number of letters and the fact they are all the same but in a different order. This order make the difference. We could speak also about metonymy, metaphor or antonym and this last one could be a mirroring sameless.

• Does exist different sameness ?
The most part of the antique we know, we know them through Renaissance prism. And the most well known are incomplete as Winged Victory of Samothrace or Aphrodite of Milos and despite this or thanks to this we look at them as references about sameness. But which sameness are we speaking about, a woman disarmed or with wings and beheaded can’t be same as a human being ? So are we speaking about sameness with Greek Arts ? But we forgot something, the reference in Greek art was a metaphysical beauty linked to Platoon’s writing. Not only related to outside beauty because outside beauty was the expression of the inside goodness. Quite far from the beauty defined by the Playboy’s press.

• Reflect shadow Greece
Time to time, the ancient Greek used the same word for speaking about reflexion by a looking glass and shadow which at a first glance could be surprising, at least from a contemporary point of view. However it’s may not be so illogical. Shadow and reflexion are produced by object which interact with light. In fact shadow could be seen as a particular type of reflexion : a dark one and with very few details with no need of a mirroring surface. See Dibutade legend.

Tentative de l’impossible 1928
© Magritte

• Is similarity a degree of sameness ? A less powerful one ?
In the computing industry, similarity is a software which remove duplicate MP3 music. In this case similarity is equal to sameness. This would mean musical similarity is the same than mathematical equality. This point of vue could be explained by the fact computing industry is based on mathematics.
If yes, what would you do with musical parodies, caricatures or any springs of inspiration ? Their sameness is not an equality.

La Trahison des Images
© Magritte

About sameness Magritte said about his painting of a pipe “This is not a pipe”

and I said speaking about my photography of a pipe “This is not a Magritte

Ceci n’est pas un Magritte
Illustration extraite de Regard sur l’image

Was Magritte speaking about sameness or similarity ? This question is in the middle of the Magritte painting. See Magritte’s letter to Foucault.

Picture similarity is always a cultural one and it could exist only in a world where realistic picture exist that’s mean in Occident and partly in Asia. Why a smaller part in Asia ? Because perspective with a single vanishing point doesn’t exist in Asia. An Asiatic image never pretend to represent the point of view of one person but an image made according to perspective pretend to.

III Sameness, but to what ?
The question of the reference(s)
My series Inventory, tribute to shows, the sameness is a matter of references.

The animal species and the human one have more sameness to a mushroom then a tree to a mushroom. When scientist are speaking about sameness, they are not speaking about physical as with see with this mushroom discovered by Jonathan Revett in fall 2000 in Great-Britain.

Geastrum britannicum not fresh and fleshy
Geastrum britannicum fresh fleshy

They are speaking about a “fundamental” one, that’s mean biological one and more specifically about parenthood through DNA. We have both a common ancestor which are closer than the flower one to us or to the mushrooms.

• Sameness need, at least, a couple of objects.
Let’s say this poplar tree is sameness than this Italian poplar. The reference seems to be the second one. But no matter, which one is the reference ; to be able to say two objects are likeness objects, are likely or are alike we need a reference object. Sameness need a reference which could be a third one or one of the two objects we are making a comparison with.

That’s mean sameness need other one. Something quite a paradox. Would sameness need difference(s) ? It seems as other doesn’t exist without, at least, one difference. In consequence, sameness need difference(s).

Similarity exists only because we know the two things which we understand as similar before we make this comparison. Could be unperfect knowing but we need, at least, a partial knowing to be able to notice it. We may don’t know one of the two things before we see it and have this intuition. Anyway when we say this flour pot is similar to this one it is only because we know both. Something cant be similar to something we don’t know.

• Built sameness
 Color meaning and painting
When we want to express warmth with color people have a tendency to choose orange-red color despite the hottest flame being blue. Does it mean this is a mistake due to a misunderstanding of the heat ? Maybe not. It could be a reference problem. The most parts of firewood flame are yellow. And for a human being, firewood is the primitive reference about heat. Even in a blacksmith forge which may rise 1500° C, the most part of the flame are orange.

If blue flame is the hotest one, why are we using blue for the cold water tape and not the hottest one ? For technical reasons, we probably begun to use colors on the taps during, more or less, the second part of 1970. Before it was write on it. Let’s make an hypothesis : in the same time the hot water started to be really hot i.e 50-80° C, also for technical reasons, increase of the efficiency of the water heater. As this temperature could burns your skins and this case the red reference won’t be the flame but sameness to the color of danger and the blue may reference to the sea or peacefull feeling.

 Drawing proportions
In Occident, drawing proportions are changing with the era. Does it mean sameness is changing with era ? Depends which references you choose and also the size of the human being change during is history because human proportions are changing with the evolution of our physical tasks and foods.

Leonardo da Vinci – Vitruve man

When Leonardo da Vinci was making his drawing he chose two main references :
 his human anatomy drawing
 Vitruve’s texts about this question.
Vitruve’s text is the reason why he is using a circle of five cubits long which is included in a square of the same size. This square is divided in a grid pattern of ten by ten units. Which is a modulation of the perfect number ten... The umbilicus is the center of the circle and in the same time the geometrical center of the whole drawing. If he choosed the umbilicus it’s because of Vitruve who think a temple, to be in a proper disposition, need symmetry and proportion with the elements or the parties of a human body well composed.

The disposition of the temple depends of the symmetry. Symmetry is linked to norms which have to be observed by architects. The temple disposition is originated in the proportion which in Greek is called analogy. The proportion is defined as an accordance to a consistent calculate reference, that’s mean build. And a part or the whole piece of art as to be in conformity to. This is proportion is based on the lengh of a forearm i.e a cubit.

Why ten ? Because ancient and Platoon among them said it’s a perfect number because it’s the total amount of the finger of the hands. That’s it 10 is equal to 1+2+3+4 (creator, bipolarity, trinity and material).
Or you can take the Golden Number as a reference...

 The plane invention.
Plane didn’t work as soon as we tried to make a perfect copy to birds as Clement Ader did.

Clement’Ader plane flying

The day an engineer seen air as a solid, that’s mean to move forward in the solid you need a no end screw and something to support it as a wooden boards, it works. Then Blériot’s plane or the brothers Wright one flied. Changing the reference make the sameness efficient.

This for cases : color, Vinci, Golden numbers and plane invention show sameness as not necessary an evidence and as something build by the human, something not natural at all.

A last one. When a policeman, in a detective series (The Expert in Miami) is saying the scare is a ‘’y’’ he could say in the same time this scare is a lower case gamma. Choosing between a ‘’y’’ and an ‘’gamma’’ is only a point of view, that’s depending of his cultural references… Never forget this question.

• Mirroring sameness
The word symbol origin is the Latin sumbolum (sign). The symbolic ancestor of the sumbolum was two pieces of a broken potter. This sumbolum was invented for helping recognition between this two people years latter this signing as time change faces. As passport didn’t exist they know they need a sign of reconnaissance .

They took a potter, broke it into pieces. Then take two pieces, those fit together perfectly. Each one kept one of the piece. So, in the future if they meet years latter or if one send an emissaries, to be sure this person was the right one they took the two pieces and gather them. If they matched perfectly they new both the other person, in front, was the Person they have to meet. This two parts of the potter was the proof they were the emissaries. No matter their faces transformation with years or no matter one was the child of one of the person who signed the agreement and the other not. They knew their were the right persons.

In this case, the difference between the two pieces make the sameness.

• Similarity is many time an anachronism temptation
As we spoke before about Winged Victory of Samothrace or Aphrodite of Milos similarity is often an anachronism.

When Mélenchon, a candidate for the 2017 french presidential election is speaking about Delacroix painting La Liberté, a painting featuring naked breast and saying this woman is a bourgoise like he is not only making a nonsense but at the same times he is speaking of this painting in a way which had nothing to see with the Delacroix vision of this uncovered breast. He claims that she resembles it, but in fact it is merely a projection of the way he is seeing 19th Century.

Le 28 Juillet. La Liberté guidant le peuple (28 juillet 1830)
Salon de 1831

Mélenchon is speaking about the bourgeoisie class because is making a more or less reference to the gown revealing necklines made by fashion house but he is forgetting something : this attitude could also be the one of a mother which stop in emergency to give breast. Because she wants to be part of this event or because she felt in danger or because her child was just killed in front of her...

• Is it possible to be similar to nothing ?
About a new artistic movement french people may say : ‘‘cela ne ressemble à rien’’ which if you translate word by word would mean : it ‘s nothing like. In french, this expression is a very negative one. This expression could also mean this is an aberration. In fact, it’s may mean : it’s similar to nothing I know ! May be an ellipse problem.

We said before sameness need a reference. How nothing could be a reference ? How knows what is nothing ? In the same time all of us believed to have a definition of nothingness.

• Is it possible to have too much of sameness ?
Hooke (1635-1703) an English scientist, one of the first user of the microscope always said about his drawing of the eye flies they were not similar or sameness with the eye of one fly. To succeed to make this drawing he needed to observe many flies on different point of view and at different scales. This drawing told the truth because it was a summary and in a same time a simplification. He had to delete the particularity of each fly to make a good description of this species eye. Too much sameness kills the sameness.

Dessin d’une mouche par Hooke

If some of you are mushrooms pickers, this explained why all the books about mushroom are drawn. The photographic details prevent an identification of a mushroom and nobody would pick up one. In this case to much precision would be an obstacle to the sameness. The perfect similarity drive to blindness because this precision is speaking about individual details and not species one.

In this case the perfect sameness, the photographic one, is in the same time total dissimilarity.

Words game are their for showing perfect sameness kill sameness. Two words can sound xactly the same but having a meaning fully different.

• Is there sameness because someone say it does exist ?

Greek Jar Illusion / Illusion du vase grec
Greek Jar Illusion / Illusion du vase grec

These drawings are reversible and bistable. That means when you are seeing the Greek vessel you can’t see the face and vice versa. You are not able to see the face and the vessel in the same time.

Rabbit-duck illusion / Illusion du lapin-canard

What interest me about the rabbit-duck illusion is before last November (2017) I never been interested by it. I found it much too artificial. So I did’nt speak of it my book Regard sur l’image. But in November, this year, I went to Massif Central to a friend’s house (Michel Assolent). And the second day he drove me to a place which he love. When I saw the place I was astonished I was in front of this illusion. But I was in front of and could say : this the duck-rabbit illusion because I heard about it before. My friend saw only the rabbit. I saw the sameness because I knew it before seeing it.

Rabbit-duck illusion / Illusion du lapin-canard
© Hervé Bernard 2017

Icare reward and so about all my series Inventory, Tribute to

La Chute d’Icare — Hommage à Brueghel / The Fall of Icarus — Tribute to Brueghel

Sameness exists because someone says it does, someone say this is The Reference for proclaiming the sameness. See Inventory – Tribute to

Hommage à la loi sur la cigarette / Tribute to the french law about smoking in a public place

So I said before similarity doesn’t exist and now I am saying this bunch of cigarettes buts is a reward to the french law about smoking despite the irony of this reward it’s exist only because I am saying it is there.

Hommage chiffoné à Andy Wahrol / Ironic reward to Andy Warhol cans

Ironic reward to Andy Warhol cans

Second part