Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters by Hendrick Avercamp, 1608

Then a funny thing happened with some of the artwork from the Rjiks Museum Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters by Hendrick Avercamp, 1608. I started messing around with this image found on the museum website. The Rijks Museum has been encouraging artists to work with images from their collection. I was happy to oblige. This particular scene matched some thoughts I had about social media.

The environment shown here of a whole town out on the ice together. All classes mixing outdoors enjoying Holland’s national pastime of ice skating. According to Wikipedia, there is much more going on in this painting than a casual observer of our generation would gather. I like the metaphor of this particular painting to describe what our current society may be missing. This painting has in it layers of activity including candidly cultural scenes along with some indiscretions. More importantly is the idea that this painting was a “motion picture” of its time. People would sit by this and “experience” each event and be reminded of the activities, while the rumors of finding the hidden circumstances could be a scandalous conversation to share.

What happens in 2008, four hundred years later? I picked the year (2008, with its digital camera time/date stamp in the lower right corner) arbitrarily, but also as a particular time when Facebook started to really become more commonly used. With social media, video games and a more cerebral, less active culture… the same spot is quiet and deserted..

Other variations include “People as Weapon” a murmuration that points to the real culprit in violence.

Isolating the people of this scene, and making a rubylith mask alludes to special effects in film. In how we are accustomed to seeing a special
feature about putting people into a scene, or taking them out an our convenience while telling a story.


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