I often trouble over the problem (is it? haha) of non-symbolic art. This is really irrational and I know I shouldn’t put effort into a thing that shouldn’t or couldn’t exist. I wonder, “If I want to do that which isn’t art at all, then why do I do art at all – at all?”
Nelson Goodman writes:
And by formulating the logical inverse of the first bit, we have:
This leads me to conclude that to identify non-symbolic art we have simply to not look for it. And I think this is really comforting.
This enigmatic non-symbolic art which we aren’t looking for *wink*, I like to privately call Art 2. And if you don’t look (*wink*), you’ll find lots of it littered in the landscape of the history of Art 1. Most often alongside and between those things which are and have been regarded as art proper. And peering onward and apart from that, we find various opportunities (more-or-less evident) for its manifestations to be elaborated.
A possible synonym for non-symbolic (with considerably less bravado) is arbitrary, which at first glance appears harmless: colors on maps to distinguish territories, random strings provided as cryptographic keys, the 7 letters which correspond to musical notes. These things seem superficially to be unopinionated aids. But nonetheless they are impactful. Their presence must be reconciled as content and form along with the intentional data they support. For example, the A-B-C-D-E-F-G of the western heptatonic scale are characters arbitrarily affiliated with frequencies of sound. And as arbitrary they are applied without regard to their significance exterior to their application to music: A is for Apple, and so on. But that significance persists, albeit undetected: when I hear 440 hz and think “A”, I am impressed upon with all the significance of the A character, wether I acknowledge it or not.
This leads me to consider that the affect derived from the arbitrary is coincidental rather than strictly non-symbolic. But let’s first consider another species of arbitrary, such as the statement encountered at the start of this writing:
I want to see this statement like a piece of whatever detritus passed on the sidewalk – a bundle – something with so little prefiguration or access to its interiority that there is scarcely a starting point for serious consideration; like a zen koan. And lets avoid for now to classify this as “random” or some other such kind of happenstance, and to stick with it as arbitrary, because I want to link it back to the arbitrary of data visualization that we’ve seen with music and maps.
In both cases we see a sort of active insignificance that seems to escape the demands of rationality. And it’s in that escape from rationality that we witness a perhaps unexpected sense of authority. This is the authority of the natural, of the universal, of the always-already. It’s an authority that we’re tempted to call mystical, in that its access to absolute reality is seemingly uninhibited by figuration or structured knowledge. And you may be tempted to say, “Well, if I pass a bundle on my way I may certainly begin to unpack its history and significance,” but please avoid that. I’m not interested in your capacity to analyze something when the opportunity to do so is impressed upon you, I’m interested in your unwillingness to do so at the point of initial encounter.
But that text specimen of mine (“A message to my brother…”) is not convincingly arbitrary. By virtue of it being written on the page, the reader is immediately aware of its constructedness and some symbolic (more-or-less arbitrary!) floods in. This is the dilemma of the non-symbolic: wherever you look for the arbitrary you won’t find it. It can’t be looked at directly. If one does, it disappears... like a wave function collapse. If I asked you to look around the room now for something arbitrary, you certainly wouldn’t find it. It seems that the arbitrary is hiding just at the fuzzy edges of phenomenal experience.
The arbitrary may in fact be the frame of experience itself. Like a picture frame, it supports and lends legitimacy to symbolic content.
I had a dream in 2019 in which a character named Lutz Bacher, played by Dennis Quaid, goes looking for a rare, golden book. The book was published by a “McGee” publishing house, and instructs the reader on the principles of time travel. Bacher goes looking late at night at the home of my grandparents: peering under the crack below the garage door; asking for permission to enter on a stormy night. And then again at a local library, where Bacher inquires about the book, causing the librarian to avoid eye contact and quiver nervously as they direct Bacher elsewhere.
Anarchism is just one strategy that has been employed toward the ends of establishing global communism; the total community, an assembly of altruistic agents. And what is required to bring about global Communism, is a strong enough population of altruists that they can sustain their community long enough to instantiate the mechanisms of altruism and exterminate all cowards (non-altruists). But the problem is, in our model society exists another type of agent, which are cowards in the guise of altruists; those who behave cowardly (in their own interest), but signal altruism. I'll call these agents positive imposters in that they express an additional signifier which permits them to insinuate themselves into a community of altruists and feed of it. And what we can produce in social simulations, and what we’ve seen historically in the case of the Communist project, is that positive imposters will devastate the coherence of a community of altruists.
And there is yet one more type of agent in our social model as regards the building of global Communism, which are altruists who lack the signifiers of altruism. These I’ll call negative imposters. And you can easily sniff them out. They’re the saddest folk in the scene. They have for some reason a propensity to look like they don’t care, but deep down they really do. Maybe it’s because they want to succeed. Maybe it’s because they know that to be an altruist is not a winning play. And they’d rather be a coward, but they never will be. This is really sad.
I, for myself, have not been yet so clever to discern if I am in fact a positive imposter, that is, a coward with the signifiers of an altruist, or a negative imposter, that is, an altruist with the signifiers of a coward. But what’s for certain is that I am an imposter. And as an imposter I can tell you with some certainty that we are very dangerous. And if be you an altruist, you ought to be careful to discern what characters constitute your community. I’m talking about a generalized paranoia. And paranoia is an attribute of culture which is also required for creating the conditions for bringing about global Communism. Because that paranoia tells us that there is a schism in the fabric of reality, and that we can not only make corrections when confronted by that schism, but also witness an entirely new world which is always-already there.
And as an imposter, I cannot stand here today and tell you what my work really does. But I can tell you what my work wants to do, given its genetic wisdom descendent from me its imposter-creator. And that is to produce opportunities for these schisms to reveal themselves.
One zone where I find ample room for reconfiguration is in documentation, and with Faltpavillon, we’ve taken opportunities to engage in new modalities of documentation as prerequisite of the program. So, the photo documentation covers not only the artwork proper, but also moments of beauty, interest, or activity that we encounter along the way and in the midst of the presentation itself. And we have also begun as a practice to take audio documentation, because as it happens, the presentations are rich with spontaneous sound.
But lucky for me, art is filled with imposters. Altruists who present as altruists and cowards who present as cowards have no place in the art complex. There’s nowhere for them to be. They find other things to do. All we have today before us are altruists who look like cowards and cowards who look like altruists. But this is okay. This is alright. Because art requires imposters. Art needs that schism. Because only imposters can produce the conditions for cognitive dissonance to take place: for constitutive disassociation.
As genuine agents we would have the option for virtuality or virtuosity. However as imposters, we may choose to make virtuous virtuality (negative imposter) or virtual virtuosity (positive imposter). This option does nothing to help me approach an answer to my own position. My work is constantly oscillating between virtuous virtuality and virtual virtuosity. I mention this to at least clarify my doubt as to what kind of imposter I am.
Art is a confidence game – top to bottom. Even if I aim to liberate a viewer from the confines of their aesthetic regime, I still have to con my way there. I can’t just point at reality, I have to show a picture of reality. I have to trick them into looking at the world. And we even sometimes defend these gestures with pseudoscience or pataphysics.
Some of you will think, “Haha is this guy serious?” And I say to you now!
Self-similarity is the dungeon of the clever and bored. Here we can talk a bit about why the way a fractal is popularly considered is grossly insufficient. A commonly held notion is that “fractal” means self-similar. This is not – or is at least not entirely – the case.
The fractal dimension of a set can be defined as the extent to which it exceeds its topological dimension. A common example given for a fractal is a coastline. In the case of a coastline, if you take a meter-long measuring stick, you’ll get a metric measurement of that coastline. But if you take a centimeter-long measuring stick, you’ll get an even longer measurement of that same coastline. The dimension of a coastline exceeds the first dimension, because to measure its true length you would need a measuring stick with infinite precision. That’s the fractal dimension: the shorter the measuring stick, the longer the line becomes. You can measure that same coastline in decreasingly smaller lengths and retrieve an increasing measurement.
The dimension of a coastline is not 1 or 2, it’s 1.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx...
With der TANK, I was concerned with this kind of information packing in the case of an exhibition or exhibition space. It seemed to me that the windows, rather than being viewports onto the extended landscape, are in fact surfaces for the city to press itself upon. It seems that the because the boundaries are transparent, when one is within the gallery, the gallery is not only itself, but itself and everything beyond it. The holographic principle is a notion from physics which I encountered probably browsing Wikipedia, that has stuck with me. The gloss of this, as I hardly understand it, states that “the description of a volume of space can be thought of as encoded on a lower-dimensional boundary to the region”. And a hologram relies on a similar principle. Unlike a photograph, each point on a hologram is encoded with every point of light from the scene that produced it. If you cut a hologram in half, you won’t have just half of the scene on each piece (as you would with a photograph), you will have the full scene on each half. And I’m tempted to call that self-similar, but I’d much rather call it hyperbolic. And this is all leading me to say that my premise for der TANK is that the entirety of its surroundings are encoded on its architecture, those surroundings being the HGK, Basel, Switzerland, Earth, and whatever else is beyond that. And Basel Scenario was an attempt to illuminate this hologram.
I recently said that beauty is meaning in excess of form. And what I mean by this is that beauty is hyperbolic. Beauty is when there’s more meaning than the apparent capacity of the form.
I find it beautiful that in viewing a fractal zoom your eyes are constantly seeking the center. But they can’t ever find it, and even when they think they have, they’re betrayed.
I can see my work reaching increasingly toward anonymity, where the origin, role, or agenda of a gesture is uncertain. Or even its status as a gesture. This serves my interests in complicating documentation and also in extending the threshold of art and exhibitions, both as to renew the capacity of art for constituting dissociation.
A holographic, schismatic art which exceeds known modalities of exhibition and documentation is an inevitability, even if it’s exceedingly vague. And it’s perhaps this vaguery by which it derives its greatest power. The avant-garde seems to be everywhere and nowhere. If you ask me any questions about this, my answer will be, “What?”
A message to my brother every 10 or 9 minutes – and otherwise coins falling out of the pocket. Embedded in the wall.
It seems that what Art can often do well, which other endeavors often cannot, is to provide the conditions for the dismantling of aesthetic regimes. By extension, that which reasonably can be called “art” is exclusively that which constitutes dissociation, and that which resembles a known instance of art is hardly art at all. However, if, following Flynt, it summons a resemblance of art in service of betraying the genre of art itself, it then reengages with the criteria of criteria-busting. But how to bust the busters? How does one make an art of art?
What is an aesthetic regime? We talk a lot about structures and governance. An aesthetic regime is a constellation of constraints on phenomenological experience. It’s the parameters by and for which we arrive at a judgement of the lived life.
To explore the contours of that notion we should also invoke Anarchism. Anarchism is a vector of uncompromising liberation within the matrix of democratic methods. It’s an adherence to a primordial social wisdom. Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the Universe. You can feel it in your mouth. I have ten different porcelain fish residing in the lower-left quadrant of my jaw. They behave pitifully; complaining of things neither you or I would consider dispositions.