We form a mental map...then that shape, shapes us...
The Telling Image: Shapes of Changing Times
Shape cues us to understand a culture, its values and place in time. Like a mental map, it can organize and orient us. Shape seeps into every aspect of living--how we build our shelters, bind our social systems, form our sacred sites, and interpret reality. At turning points in history the shape shifts, sharpening our eyes to the emerging next.
Migratory humans saw the world as a web, woven and interconnected. They imitated this shape in round thatched huts and web-like labyrinths. Urban cultures organized the world as a ladder, expressed through pyramids, skyscrapers, social tiers, and church steeples. In the last century, the swirl of a helix surfaced in DNA, computer-aided architecture, and freeway loops. Networks map our current time: the Internet, Facebook, bacteria colonies, and virus proliferation. Shape alerts us to our frame of mind, exposing the boxes we are locked in and helping us anticipate the future.