Upside down: a quick brainstorm

Upside down: a quick brainstorm

As it’s often the case, the theme of our annual TEDxAUCollege event appears to be super cool and creative. Yet, after pondering carefully over it, you still might be a little confused about what ‘upside down’ precisely means. Perhaps, it’s a good idea for you to quickly brainstorm our theme, just to warm yourself up for tomorrow’s event. Here you go, this blog post will discuss some possible interpretations of ‘Upside Down’.

‘Upside down’ can be interpreted in a number of ways. The most literal and straightforward understanding of ‘upside down’ is the reversal between the upper and the lower parts of something, as in ‘hanging a poster upside down’. This way of interpretation usually implies a pre-existing hierarchy or order, either in a physical/spatial sense or in a more intangible/abstract way. Perhaps, one could interpret it more loosely as meaning ‘the opening up of new perspectives’, or ‘an innovative approach that challenges the conventional thinking pattern’. Alternatively, you can see ‘upside down’ pejoratively as a disturbance or an unexpected disaster. For example, ‘the Black Plague turned the world upside down’.

The concept of ‘upside down’ can be seen in the academic realm, as well as in many artworks and literature. Below, I have gathered some thought-provoking pieces for you – including some paintings, books and films.

Upside down in art

The year 1969 marks a revolutionary turning point in the career path of Georg Baselitz, an innovative German Neo-Expressionist artist. He made a bold move and decided to paint all his artwork in an ‘upside-down’ way. The painting The Wood On Its Head signifies his first attempt in the field of inverted paintings. With this painting, he was hoping to break away from his earlier representational artwork, which places a great emphasis on the content and the deeper meaning.  By presenting scenes of life upside down, Baselitz makes the formal aspects of his paintings immediately stand out, such that the viewers’ attention will be straightly directed towards the organization of shapes and colors. Click here for more info and related exhibitions.

Upside down in film

The movie Upside Down is a romantic fantasy released in 2012. The story takes place in a two-planet universe which is governed by the law of ‘dual gravity’. This dual system embodies the idea of binary opposition: one planet is rife with suffering and poverty, while the other is full of happiness and abundance. The two protagonists, Adam and Eden, come from two different planets and fell in love with each other. Nevertheless, life does not turn out the way they want: the couple is forced to separate due to the effect of gravity. Without too much spoiling, go check out the film yourself. Grab a bag of popcorn and explore this ‘upside down’ world with a friend!

Upside down in literature

There are quite many literary works that, implicitly or explicitly, appeal to the idea of ‘upside down’, and build up an imaginary “otherworld” which are alternative to the world we live in. Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando: A Biography depicts the life of the protagonist Orlando and her encounters to key figures in British literary history. Recounting the story of Orlando who changes sex from male to female, the book has exerted a great influence on the study of gender and transgender.

A bizarre and inconceivable world is presented by Franz Kafka in his novella The Metamorphosis. “When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.” This opening sentence immediately throws readers into a peculiar fictitious world. As the story progresses, Kafka invites his readers to meditate on the nature of mind and body, the human feelings of isolation and sympathy, and the divergence between intentions and outcomes.

A final note on our Main Event

We are almost there! Our annual TEDxAUCollege event is taking place tomorrow at the Royal Tropical Institute, which is 10-min away by bike or 8-min by cab. Our event officially starts at 13:00 tomorrow, and the door will open from 12:30 onwards. if you haven’t bought your ticket yet, click here to get the last few remaining one. Don’t panic if you are not sure what to wear, check out our previous article ‘What to wear to TEDxAUCollege: Dress codes explained’. We hope to see you there!