Monday, November 29, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Notes on Painting (and death)

Even the carcass can have dignity. When represented as Death the deadly image gains new life. Which form does it take? Unlike taking a picture the act of painting conceals its true interest. Pay attention to the frame.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Black and Orange

First the black was not dark enough. There was a grayish brown patch over the book that would not fill in and made the background dull and uneven. The technician claimed that the image was flawed on the file but no evidence of irregularity could be discerned when displayed on the monitor. Later, by telephone, comparisons were made between the printed result and the original image. Fortunately the enlargement of the image did not destroy the sharpness of the writing. The title of the book, its author and publisher had not been degraded by expansion of the visual field. The important small details of the object captured by photographic processes such as the wrinkles and tiny tears and folds along the top edge of the paper cover of the book had been perfectly rendered by the printing. Two impressions resulted. Considerations of placement and color followed. One way to overcome the problem of the disfiguring ghost image above the book was to reduce the size of the black background in order to mitigate its effect. The issue of the subject itself brackets the question of primacy regarding background and foreground. The bright orange book floats on the velvety black depth holding and supporting it. The darkness enveloping the surface of the orange rectangle is without limit, without place and void of substance. This is the “melancholy”[i] of light—its absence. The remainder of the grieving process. A bitter tasting color left to cover the places where no residue remains. Bereft and fallen, the figure in the middle remains silent and still—motionless under the cover of an artificial night and hoping not to be noticed as passersby follow. The imperfections along the edge create an entry into the narrative of progress and discovery. False cover block passage into the darker territories of the story. The language of the list points to an unfinished sequence. This is like those songs you love so much. Do you remember the lyrics or the melody first? How prominent are the physical surroundings in this conception of song? Block out the interference from the background noise and concentrate on the sharp focus of song and speech. Attempts to undermine the safe marriage of each constitutive element along the fabric of experience originate in the position that each po[nt along the fold can only be made equal once an absolute measure of total effect has been attained. Sheer, barren language staring in the face of an utterly unsympathetic future. These are sad songs, sung only in memorial. The final entombment of unharmonious fictions of the last impressions of memory. This iteration is like the ending. Devouring the final shred of information in order to obliterate the last associations with place. When passing the location in fantasy, a story of completeness is projected onto the train of narration. Holding this edge against a figure of the end, the frame slips away making the fit difficult. The break is slight, like a dislocation of the limb—the logic of the end not meeting the middle. Inside—a tumult, disorder a cacophony of voices breaking through, in fragments. Something held open, door left ajar.

[i]Jacques Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music, trans, Brian Massumi, (Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1985), p. 27:} In its biological reality, noise is a source of pain. Beyond a certain limit, it becomes an immaterial weapon of death. The ear, which transforms sound signals into electric impulses addressed to the brain, can be damaged, and even destroyed, when the frequency of a sound exceeds 20,000 hertz, or when its intensity exceeds 80 decibels. Diminished intellectual capacity, accelerated respiration and heartbeat, hypertension, slowed digestion, neurosis, altered diction: these are the consequences of excessive sound in the environment. A weapon of death. It became that with the advent of industrial technology. But just as death is nothing more than an excess of life, noise has always been perceived as a source of exaltation, a kind of therapeutic drug capable of curing tarantula bites or, according to Boissier de Sauvages (in his Nosologica methodical, "fourteen forms of melancholy.”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Grid Life 2010

What can be the model for architecture when the essence of what was effective in the classical model -- the presumed rational value of structures, representations, methodologies of origin and ends and deductive processes -- have been shown to be delusory?
What is being proposed is an expansion beyond the limitation presented by the classical model to the realization of architecture as an independent discourse, free from external values -- classical or any other; that is, the intersection of the meaning- free, the arbitrary, and the timeless in the artificial.
Peter Eisenman, "The End of the Classical,"
Perspecta 21, (1984):166

Grids are inherently irrational. There is too much extra information, too many things attached to them. They carry the weight of logic, the burden of plain sense. This burden is too heavy to handle. The logic collapses under its own highly “rationalist”[1] position. Nothing can be quite as clear, quite as straightforward as grids are thought to be. They are linked chiasmatically with logic and rationality in an unstable relation that cannot be maintained. Arranged without differentiation, the grid attempts to eliminate decision-making. It is anti-compositional, anti-hierarchical. Each element is considered as equal. Equality implied by the grid extends into aspects of social relations. Material is presented rather than “composed.”[2] Once the grid is adopted, decisions have been eliminated. A polemic of rigorous flattening is initiated directed against High Romantic conceptions of “inspiration” and “personal vision” which presents a façade of coolness and restraint. The grid’s straight lines and logical, purposeful arrangement is easily understood, like a map. The only difficult aspect to understand is why choose a grid? What stands behind the decision to choose not to decide? : To abrogate responsibility for choice in favor of conceptual rigor. The pretense of disinterestedness is difficult to maintain. Entry into a grid is arbitrary. Beginnings and endings become irrelevant on the flat surface of straight lines intersecting at right angles. Narrative does not work in a grid structure. Grid world presents sequence and seriality instead, pattern and repetition of event. There cannot be an irregular grid. The contradiction involved in focusing exclusively on one system is a result of the tension between variation and repetition. Revolution, rotation and negation of stasis in the form of a regimented order of event and sequence drain the frame of meaning. The grid is a furious rage for control but the fury is a replica of denial. The structure holds and hides the plan for ordered living and clear actions. Intention can be determined by the adoption of the need to dominate. The grid covers control of emotion and expressive feeling. Emotionally, grids relieve the anxiety of surprise from our set of expectations. Constant, perpetual recurrence calms the viewer. The regularity of reoccurrence soothes worn nerves. Grids are not a pattern. Decorative character and repetition for the sake of motif are not part of the ideology of the grid. Grids do not spread endlessly—there is a finite limit to the breadth and scope of the structuring system. But limits can be transgressed, and all structures collapse under the weight of their own making. Because my grid is different from your grid, we will have to find a common language to compare our experiences. Leave it to the future to generate a grammar without imbedded assumptions about the real world and its inhabitants. Pure monotony of experience results from the repetition of a language generated by words twisted together to form straight sentences flowing from a frame of reference not referred to by other lodgers in the prison cages of structuring agents held together by the logic of speaking.
“ Moreover concepts of coordinates and horizontal-vertical relationships
are only learned by the age of eight or nine. Such systems, Piaget insists, are extremely complicated and unnecessary in the child’s early methods of orientation. So when Mondrian reduced the structure of the external world to a system of horizontal and vertical black lines, he was not reducing perception to its essential limits but rather to its most compatible form vis-à-vis the format of the picture plane.”[3] Plain facts such as those possessed by the designers of the frame of reference first encountered at readings of the margins of textuality form the basis of the evidence used to corroborate the story of the disappearing locus of truth. Previous attempts to imbue the grid with a reputation for reliable information-giving have failed. Replacement of the frame with expansion of the plane sounds arbitrary and flawed to those who came to witness the speaking of the truth. "Alas, I fear we still believe in God because we still believe in grammar" Interpretation of grid structures stops at the door frame of the picture plane which stands before the viewer calling for belief in an invariable system. This system will betray the viewer, raising the dead from oblivion; breaking the structure’s system into infinitesimal units and recalling each detail of its forgotten history.
[1] “There are, of course, some ‘elements’ of this rationality which, in the abstract, are transhistorical: 2+2=4 is undoubtedly valid in every society.” Philosophy, Politics, Autonomy: Essays in Political Philosophy Cornelius Catoriadis (Oxford, 1991), p.67.
[2] , “Composed upon Westminster Bridge, Sept. 3, 1802” William Wordsworth, Selected Poems and Prefaces by William Wordsworth (Oxford, 1965), p. 170.
[3] Jack Burham, The Structure of Art (New York, 1973), p. 31.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010