You must admit: the title intrigued you. Perhaps you automatically looked around, checking the upper corners of the room where you are standing. In any event, even if we are used to having cameras follow us wherever we go, the title still makes us uneasy. And what if the title were: “God sees everything”? I’m sure that many people would not even glance at these lines. Some
would simply dismissively wave their hand; others would laugh… Because in our minds, in our lives, God’s all-seeing eye has been replaced with “all-seeing eyes”, with thousands upon thousands of mechanical devices that hum, rotate, watch…In other words, we have turned the question of conscience over to technology, in the wretched hope that the camera does not “cover” quite all of our actions, that there are “blind spots” where we do what we want.
It used to be different; we used to be watched from the narthex, from the dome, from the choir, from the walls of churches, by images of the Lord and the saints, images of angels of all ranks, images of the apostles and evangelists, images of holy warriors and great martyrs, and images of crumbling endowments. The finest fresco painters were brought in but part of this great art has undergone the changes that time brings. The book HAND, COLOUR, CHURCH reminds us of this in composition after composition, image after image, nuance after nuance.
The wall paintings remain. However, one must ask whether this is enough, if today we flinch at the very thought that we are being watched not by that all-seeing eye but by mechanical eyes. For, while for some the question of whether they really see what we are doing may be simply an antiquated religious issue, no one should think that this is merely a matter of the advancement of technology. I am sure that when we open the book HAND, COLOUR, CHURCH, we will feel these frescoes watching us.