Fine Art by    Sonia Ben Achoura

Landscape of Prediction

Oil on canvas

Statistics are pervasive in the contemporary world. Within most disciplines, meaning is sought among vast arrays of data, aiming for generalization. The predictive power at the core of statistics is the basis for understanding and harnessing the resources available in the physical world. Advancements in computer science have contributed to an increase recent times in the accuracy of observations, and most importantly, the patterns that emerge from the data. The inferences drawn have become increasingly precise, allowing to catch glimpses of a future in which predictable factors coexist with erratic phenomena.
This predictive ability would undoubtedly have been considered superhuman by primitive people for whom only a few privileged individuals such as shamans  or oracles could supposedly foresee the future. Yet this novel divinatory discipline has become an established research process in most fields of study, a widespread practice of collecting and analysing data. The findings obtained from such evidence-based protocols are subsequently used to implement changes in policy and practice. In rapidly changing contemporary societies, statistics have proved an invaluable tool to observe and record patterns of changes. All aspects of Western society are, to this day, guided by research.
From correlation to Anova, mediation analysis to T-test, the methodological spectrum continues to widen, bringing about increasingly elegant insights. Whether high or low, scores on variables are assessed, revealing causality, or at least, the strength of the relationship between variables.  with a simple graph conveying rich and insightful information. This dance of frequencies is scrutinized down to its minutiae: standard deviation, direct effect, confounding variables... to try and establish the probability of an event occurring. Was it cause and effect? Or was God the rolling the dice? 


The black slate
By Sonia Ben Achoura, Sep 24 2013 11:15PM

Acrylic on canvas
152 x 86 cm

The 'blank slate', or 'tabula rasa' in latin, is a term referring to the wax tablets used by the Romans for writing. Notes were erased by heating and smoothing the wax. Within the nature-nurture debate in the social sciences, the blank slate model proposes that individuals are born devoid of built-in mental content and that their knowledge comes from experience, hence favouring 'nurture' over 'nature'.
Some horrific experiments took place, often on children, as the behaviourists set out to prove that a child could be made into whatever it was trained, or programmed to be. All predispositions within the infant were overlooked, and all inherited, genetic information disregarded. They did show that conditioning and the biological bases of behaviour influence behaviour, as do emotions, attachment and memory. However, humans are not robots, and the brain is not a computer.
Blank slate models provided important information about the links between biology and behaviour, however it also emphasized the need for sound ethics and a balanced perspective in research. Fortunately, a more rounded understanding of human nature followed, with the acknowledgment that an interaction takes place between what is inherent within the individual at birth and what is experienced in contact with the environment. The implications for society have translated in the surge of policies of equality, although the challenge remains to fully celebrate each cultural heritage whilst simultaneously eradicating discrimination.
This painting portrays the dance of life in all its complexity, as nature and nurture interact endlessly. Like bricks in a wall, a myriad blank slates emerge from the lower part of the painting, like building blocks of society, two towering representations of the multitudes populating our planet at the present time. Yet one single slate dominates above, a symbol of the unique self, asserting the undeniable power of individuality. Rather than disappearing in the crowd, it emerges forcefully with a strong sense of perspective suggestive of its distant origins.
In sharp contrast with both columns of monochrome and angular slates, rises a seductive and fluid shape reminiscent of the DNA double-helix rises. Ethereal and crystalline, the two intertwined strands are symbolic of human nature -as opposed to nurture.The two  snakes intertwined in the symbol of health and medicine can also be fathomed in its swirling appearance. In its deceptively fragile appearance, the DNA detracts from its earnest function for our species to adapt and survive beyond death and for eternity. Within the instructions for life, encoded from our most immediate relatives to our most distant ancestors, is encapsulated a genetic and cultural inheritance that interacts with the environment through personal experience. In this dichotomic process, individual patterns of life are added to an existing DNA in a dynamic, endless process.
This painting is a celebration of the unique self, powerful, undiluted amidst the multitude.

God Within
By Sonia Ben Achoura, Mar 22 2013 9:58PM
Acrylic on Canvas with Painted Sides

This painting is inspired from neuro-theological research and the finding of
areas in the brain that activate during prayer, meditation and spiritual
experiences. The scientific search for God within the brain has yielded
some fruitful results: the finding of areas in the brain (using neuro-imaging
technology -fMRI scans) that activate during spiritual experiences, prayer,
and meditation. However, the interpretation of these findings is proving to be
a challenge: Whilst for some, these spiritual 'hotspots' in the brain generate
these experiences, for others, the pinpointing of these specific areas only
shows that God speaks to humans through these localized areas in
the brain. Scientific attempts to prove or disprove the existence of God
continue on...


Future Icon
By Sonia Ben Achoura, Mar 22 2013 9:53PM
Oil on canvas with painted sides
Having investigated iconography in its many expressions around the world, I felt inspired to create my own visionary iconography, the 'Iconography of the Future'. Whilst religious icons guided people's beliefs in Medieval Europe through the scarce production of icons with massive social impact and spiritual content, the secular world generates vast amounts of imagery in a free, organic and ever-changing manner in the digital era. No longer is there a single, standardized spiritual type of imagery guiding all people. This is was an important change in the history of imagery, which left people free to find the imagery that best suits their spiritual needs on an individual basis.
This painting reflects my visionary exploration of what a futuristic icon may look like if Medieval tradition had continued to evolve; Abstract enough to symbolize mankind as we collectively navigate our way into new ways to live, yet devised for each individual to recognize themselves within it. It encompasses the sacred Eastern mandala of meditation, a spiritual tool that centres the mind and helps us navigate through the different dimensions and aspects of human existence (physical, mental, and spiritual). Dynamic yet still, this Future Icon symbolizes today's man and woman's dynamic process of adapting to new ways to think and experience spirituality now and into the future.


Divine Vision
By Sonia Ben Achoura, Mar 22 2013 9:52PM

By Sonia Ben Achoura, Mar 22 2013 9:11PM
Acrylic on canvas

A symbol of pulsating life, both of plant-like and organic human form,
this painting depicts either vessels transporting sep within trees 
or human veins leading to a life sustaining beating heart, sending 
out a radiating vibrations out in the emptiness surrounding it. 
Plant are seem static to us humans, yet their subtle dance
eludes us. Not only do they grow upwards, they breathe and merge
with universal energy, responding to its invisible movements. 
Staring into this painting for long enough will give a glimpse of
 life's dance...


Abstract Thought Forms
By Sonia Ben Achoura, Mar 22 2013 9:02PM
Acrylic on Canvas

An abstract/conceptual piece on the nature of thoughts, as these form in the mind with varying clarity. A teacher will convey concepts more efficiently as the thought form increases in precision with the mind fully grasps the information. There is an element of telepathy in this process. 
This painting therefore depicts an invisible, yet powerful human phenomenon.


Abstract Thought Forms II
By Sonia Ben Achoura, Mar 22 2013 8:56PM
Acrylic on canvas

The Cosmic Tree
by Sonia Ben Achoura, Mar 22 2013 8:07PM
Acrylic on canvas

This painting is another attempt at depicting the invisible. The wind is 
blowing through the branches, which reach up towards the 
warming sun that is shining through. The upper part of the tree
resembles a brain, an allegory of collective consciousness.
As drops of rain fall, its delicate roots obtain nourishment from 
a cosmic ocean. This phenomenon is depicted by concentric rings
of energy surrounding the roots endings.
It is alive, a multidimensional being experiencing its freedom
to exist among all elements, air, wind, fire, and water.  


The Dream
Mixed media (Oil and acrylics
A winged being pursues its angelic flight though various spaces and incoherent
perspectives. Free from gravity and unbound from matter, this ethereal being
hovers through turbulent waters, furnaces and tunnel-like spaces. All earthly
elements are include in this composition. This painting is symbolic of the
human through life, navigating through life, discerning through an array of
information, beliefs and identities, searching for patterns in chaos.



Welcome to my blog
Here you can find out about the meaning behind each individual painting, and samples of my upcoming book.