The first image is the work by Jeff Wall entitled “After ‘Invisible Man’ by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue” created in 2001. The second image goes under the title “The Cave,” and it appeared in the book The Republic by Plato that dates as far back as 380 B.C. Both images have much in common as they are related to literary works, so they allude to certain characters, ideas, and philosophies. At that, these literary works are concerned with people’s search for truth. In Plato’s book, people are exposed to some artificial (manmade) source of light or truth and are confined to using it. Likewise, the man in the postmodern work is also using the artificial light of electric bulbs. The viewer is bound to think of the Invisible Man who tried to find truth in science, which is often in opposition to nature.
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The images under analysis also convey one major idea, which is people’s voluntary imprisonment. People in the cave feel comfortable when looking at the shadows shaped by the fire. They are unwilling to go out of the cage where they feel safe. The postmodern world is not marked by considerable changes in this respect. The individual creates his own prison, eagerly encaging himself with material things and technological advances. At the same time, the postmodern world is characterized by hundreds of ideas and approaches to the complexity of human life.
The myriad of bulbs represents the plurality of concepts and philosophies while the people of the Ancient World had only a limited number of perspectives at hand. It is possible to create the allegory of the development of the human society that moved from several basic concepts to a plethora of ideas in the contemporary globalized world.