Tuesday, 7 August 2018

No message

This artwork questions the idea of art as a form of interrogation of habitual patterns.
 Art is not a mode of questioning. To make it so is to rob it of its status as otherworldly form within the worldliness of things. You wouldn’t greet an indigenous culture with hello and thanks for your role as questioning my habitual patterns of living. It may have that effect on you but to introduce the culture within this hierarchical framework is literally madness. I’m not sure art has a role or a message. This is how it frees us from the hegemony of habitual patterns and traumas of thingness accelerated by digital cultures effective dissemination of pure functionality.

Digital culture can be used effectively e.g. showing patterns of bowling deliveries in a test match but its rather less wholesome when defining identity. Unclasping from linguistic meaning is what art does best. This functions by leaving a vestige of the linguistic striation and offering a simultaneous nomadic freedom from its fixity. By operating on an aesthetic level at the same time as literal we are kept in touch with our sacred ability to imagine and feel meaning. This occurred to me, when after a longer break than I would have liked I went on an artists date. This is when you put aside time to become unencumbered and visit something. I tend to visit galleries but it doesn’t have to be. I realised in the early stages of committing to this process that I was feeling a sense of elation at the end of it. Well actually even at the beginning of the process.

Today I realised this was because I had allowed myself to enter life on the frequency of affect or aesthetic. Everything around me becomes imbued with meaning precisely because the habitual process of “reading” the world is interrupted. The signs and labels that usually hover over my visual experience are banished as a felt experience takes over. Meaning in this sense is everywhere if the linguistic or cognitive meaning is filtered out of perhaps turned down to a background level instead of being at the forefront of my engagement. This cognitive labelling seems to me to be the default setting for modern life and at the heart of segregation and reductionism. Countries, religions ideologies are all subject to the egos reliance on these forms, which tidy life into a state of things because things are far more effectively controlled than ambiguous drops of experience.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Let's be Natural

In making a doctoral proposal there is a certain amount of casting forwards. There is a required intuition that what you chose to research will be compatible with the practical process of researching. This is not a problem for an artist who works outside of linear time but in the realm of academic research the framework is still outwardly representational. The representational world is one of cause and effect i.e. I decide to research this and I make work with the theme of my research. Art has its origins in magical thinking and doesn’t really work as an illustration of ideas. Even as an illustrator I realised that illustration works better when you don’t just illustrate the meaning of the words on the page. Perhaps this is why I am aware of the pitfalls of art becoming illustration. An artwork can have an outwardly illustrative form but this is not where the meaning resides even if the artist themselves declares that it is. 

This is my first performance of Blackberries - Blood and Brambles - clearly about this desire to seek a coalescence with nature through the intermingling of blood and brambles.

So in my case I cast forward the idea of the “vision of the absurd”. Early on in my research, I discovered Camus’ “if I were a cat in the world of animals, this life would have a meaning…” quote. In an overly simple way this can be taken as describing the separation of humans from nature. This, again in overly simple terms, is where the Absurd resides. This is what Whitehead calls the “myth of separation”, which he traces back to the paradigm of bifurcation underlying modern life. Our genius for conceptual cognition rests upon the idea of primary materials, which are abstract and non-physical and secondary materials, which are the physical and subjective response to the primary materials. Aristotle too conceived of primary materials, which are fixed and eternal and the secondary fluctuating or ephemeral responses. Whitehead asks that we try to acknowledge the artifice of this framework and instead recognise objects as events. In this way, instead of being a separate and arbitrary element, subjective purposiveness is entangled within the framework of the cosmos. I believe this is close to Deleuze’s idea of flat space as a non-hierarchical scrim of experience. This clearly has massive repercussions for notions of meaning, which continues to be largely linguistic and abstract even in the art world.

Deleuze via Whitehead offers us a chance to unclasp our experience of relating and creating from the striated categories of the occident. Nature and our relationship with it seems to be an unavoidable realm to anyone addressing this. I’m thinking here of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, where Marlow voyages deeper and deeper into the fetid mysteries of the subcontinent. What Conrad presents is not just the separation into things caused by the West's obsession with profit and finance but in Marlow’s case the quest for enlightened truth. This quest for a particular Western conceptual truth is perhaps more damaging and dehumanising than the quest for profit. Truth as such is built upon the myth of separation and a bifurcated objectivity. I mention this because without my intentionally doing so all my recent aesthetic machines have engaged with nature. The nonbifurcatedman post-rationally hurtles back into nature. Roger Scruton illustrates just how little we have engaged with Whitehead’s ideas in the century since he started his explorations. In his book The Soul of the World, Scruton argues that we should reconcile our need to find meaning with our need to open things up and see how they work. He seems to want to keep these two siblings separate “now now children play nicely”. This appears to present a continued bifurcated state despite our technological leaps forward. Whilst, in liberal theoretical terms, this still allows for personal epiphany, it also places actual occasioned meaning in grave danger of total extinction. Because the how things work and the how they are experienced is a undivided event. I can't truly explain how something works outside of the occasion of it working. Cognitive conceptual thought insists upon total separation, hence I am not a humanoid in the cosmos of other experiential entities but a human around which the universe revolves.