© Joana Linda

The Age of Reason

Jonathan Barnbrook

This diptych entitled The Age of Reason is composed of two floor panels with graphic characteristics that are strongly inspired by panels found in Western catholic churches. By subverting them through the modification of their composition and the use of typography, the author forces us to think about two distinct realities – through two different affirmations – relating to interesting and important contemporary issues. The first one To the glory of nothing, to the reality of a life finite questions what we worship and the reasons for which we live and work, and the other, To the triumph of logic over disruption of the truth, examines the fascinating and revealing reality of a post-truth era with alternative facts.

The Age of Reason, by Jonathan Barnbrook

The visual style and use of materials relates to the great catholic cathedrals and churches in Western Europe, in particular the floors and walls of inlaid, ornate decorative marble patterns. However these are subverted by using very modern drawing and placement of historic letterforms. The text parodies religious instructional phrases but they are very different for this age where every trusted authority has been discredited or undermined.

The first says ‘to the glory of nothing, to the reality of a life finite’ – it is opposite to much universal religious teaching, it says we are here now, we should work for practical motives, not for our own ego, an unproved afterlife, or spiritual or political leaders who make promises that can’t be trusted.

The second piece – ‘to the triumph of logic over disruption of the truth’ – is a reminder that we no longer live in an age of reason but of ‘alternative facts’. The way to gain power now is undermining universal truths and reason, not supporting them. However we must at every point fight this otherwise humanity will descend into another dark age.