Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Aesthetics of Silence : Susan Sontag

Every era has to reinvent the project of “spirituality” for itself. (Spirituality = plans, terminologies, ideas of deportment aimed at the resolution of painful structural contradictions inherent in the human situation, at the completion of human consciousness, at transcendence.)

Krishnamurti claims that we must give up psychological, as distinct from factual, memory. Otherwise, we keep filling up the new with the old, closing off experience by hooking each experience into the last. We must destroy continuity (which is insured by psychological memory), by going to the end of each emotion or thought. And after the end, what supervenes (for a while) is silence.

In the modern era, one of the most active metaphors for the spiritual project is “art.” The activities of the painter, the musician, the poet, the dancer et al, once they were grouped together under that generic name (a relatively recent move), have proved to be a peculiarly adaptable site on which to stage the formal dramas besetting consciousness, each individual work of art being a more or less astute paradigm for regulating or reconciling these contradictions. Of course, the site needs continual refurbishing. Whatever goal is set for art eventually proves restrictive, matched against the widest goals of consciousness. Art, itself a form of mystification, endures a succession of crises of demystification; older artistic goals are assailed and, ostensibly, replaced; outgrown maps of consciousness are redrawn. But what supplies all these crises with their energy — an energy held in common, so to speak — is the very unification of numerous, quite disparate activities into a single genus. At the moment at which “art” comes into being, the modern period of art begins. From then forward, any of the activities therein subsumed becomes a profoundly problematic activity, each of whose procedures and, ultimately, whose very right to exist, can be called into question. Following on the promotion of the arts into “art” comes the leading myth about art, that of the “absoluteness” of the artist’s activity. In its first, more unreflective version, this myth considered art as an expression of human consciousness, consciousness seeking to know itself. (The critical principles generated by this myth were fairly easily arrived at: some expressions were more complete, more ennobling, more informative, richer than others.) The later version of the myth posits a more complex, tragic relation of art to consciousness. Denying that art is mere expression, the newer myth, ours, rather relates art to the mind’s need or capacity for self-estrangement. Art is no longer understood as consciousness expressing and therefore, implicitly, affirming itself. Art is not consciousness per se, but rather its antidote — evolved from within consciousness itself. (The critical principles generated by this myth were much harder to get at.) The newer myth, derived from a post-psychological conception of consciousness, installs within the activity of art many of the paradoxes involved in attaining an absolute state of being described by the great religious mystics. As the activity of the mystic must end in a via negative, a theology of God’s absence, a craving for the cloud of unknowingness beyond knowledge and for the silence beyond speech, so art must tend toward anti-art, the elimination of the “subject” (the “object,” the “image”), the substitution of chance for intention, and the pursuit of silence. In the early, linear version of art’s relation to consciousness, a struggle was held to exist between the “spiritual” integrity of the creative impulses and the distracting “materiality” of ordinary life, which throws up so many obstacles in the path of authentic sublimation. But the newer version, in which art is part of a dialectical transaction with consciousness, poses a deeper, more frustrating conflict: The “spirit” seeking embodiment in art clashes with the “material” character of art itself. Art is unmasked as gratuitous, and the very concreteness of the artist’s tools (and, particularly in the case of language, their historicity) appears as a trap. Practiced in a world furnished with second-hand perceptions, and specifically confounded by the treachery of words, the activity of the artist is cursed with mediacy. Art becomes the enemy of the artist, for it denies him the realization, the transcendence, he desires. Therefore, art comes to be estimated as something to be overthrown. A new element enters the art-work and becomes constitutive of it: the appeal (tacit or overt) for its own abolition — and, ultimately, for the abolition of art itself.


Making Space between Things

Friday, 19 May 2017

On The Nature of Things : Zumthor/Baudrillard/Krishnamurti/Watts

The real thing remains hidden, nobody can ever see it.

The world is overloaded of signs and information, representative of things that nobody completely understands, because they are in turn nothing but signs representative of other signs.

Peter Zumthor

The nature of things cannot be discovered by analysing them according to their functions, by labelling or categorising them but by understanding their relationship to people, their behaviour and emotions which caused creation of these objects.

Jean Baudrillard

Jiddu Krishnamurti


On Land : East Anglia/North Sea

Friday, 5 May 2017


Astronomical archive

Celestial Sphere : Stars and Dust Particles

Entanglements of matter and meaning.

Karen Barad, Meeting The Universe Halfway, 2007.

Hawking understood black holes because he could stare at them. Black holes mean oblivion. Mean death. And Hawking has been staring at death all his adult life. Hawking could see.
Martin Amis, Night Train, 1997.

For Baudrilland the actual photographs are beside the point. It is what precedes them that counts in his eyes- the mental event of taking a picture.
Sylvere Lotringer, The Piracy of Art, 2008.

The Library : A Meditation on the Human Condition (Giacometti, artist-philosopher)

Books can step up to us- into us- in many ways.
Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich was for me that rare precipitate force which calls another book into being.

Mario Petrucci, Heavy Water, a poem for Chernobyl.

Existential Spaces/In-Situ : Architecture/Photography/Installation

Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia

Tate Modern

Millennium Bridge

VITRINES : Art Spaces/interiors/interventions
Anselm Kiefer :
In the Annenberg Courtyard
Velimir Khlebnikov: Fates of Nations: The New Theory of War
Anselm Kiefer often dedicates his works to intriguing figures of the past, be they poets or philosophers. This piece is one of a number of works emerging from Kiefer’s ongoing exploration of the Russian Futurist avant-garde writer, theorist and absurdist Velimir Khlebnikov (1885-1922).

After years of study, Khlebnikov concluded that a major sea battle took place every 317 years, or multiples thereof. Kiefer celebrates this heroic and ludicrous activity with a work that is both monument and anti-monument. Measuring almost 17 metres in total and consisting of two large glass vitrines, Kiefer creates a transparent, reflective sea-scape in three dimensions that calls to mind the Romantic sublime of painters from JMW Turner to Caspar David Friedrich. Kiefer uses the frames of the vitrines to stage a mysterious drama, in which viewers, seeing each other and their own reflections, become participants.

Paul Soldner
Sainsbury Centre
University of East Anglia

Spatial Intelligence

Thursday, 4 May 2017

The New Art Gallery Walsall - Idris Khan

Dark Renderings : Pages from Artist's Books

Photographic Process/Thinking
Drawings : Speculative Constructions in Photography

 Deleuze claimed that he did not write “about” art, literature, or cinema, but, rather, undertook philosophical “encounters” that led him to new concepts.  As a constructivist, he was adamant that philosophers are creators, and that each reading of philosophy, or each philosophical encounter, ought to inspire new concepts. Additionally, according to Deleuze and his concepts of difference, there is no identity, and in repetition, nothing is ever the same.  Rather, there is only difference: copies are something new, everything is constantly changing, and reality is a becoming, not a being.


Layered Landscape

"Thus we cover the universe with drawings we have lived. These need only to be tonalized on the mode of our inner space."
Gaston Bachelard.
The Poetics of Space.