Time is so elusive; recognizable only in the contours of changes in space. Time presents a boundary of cognition at which we dream to graze. We would like to get a better look at it, only it seems that for the time being, Time has its eye on us, rather than the other way around. The task then is to invert this relationship and I’ve found that optical illusions and other gestalt games offer a convenient way to do that. The random-dot autostereogram (commonly known from the Magic Eye series of books) is one that I’ve explored occasionally. And so I set out to produce some for this publication.
While experimenting with generating autostereograms, I came across some research into using machine learning for estimating depth in photos. Some of the models from this research are open source and I found a python notebook to input an image and output its estimated depth map: a 2D image that represents the depth of a 3D scene by mapping a gradient over the picture plane from black (furthest) to white (closest). To create an autostereogram, the depth map is interpreted as a dataset which displaces some pixels of the horizontal random-dot tiles.
In the hands of a user, the random-dot autostereogram is an interface for the reconstruction of a 3D scene from a displacement of 2D space. To reconstruct the scene, the user must optically overlap the neighboring horizontal tiles so that their relative displacement suggests 3-dimensionality. To do this, the user relaxes their eyes from a normal object focus into a wall-eyed (exotropic) pose, effectively focusing past the picture plane, angling the eyes out wider than they would for focusing on the picture before them. When assuming this optical pose, the user experiences the horizontal tiles overlapping and the displacement from the depth map is visually reconstructed as a perceived 3-dimensional scene. To achieve this unconventional focus, the user must surrender the object focus indicated by countless generations of development of human visual acuity.
What’s revealed here is the perceptual mechanism by which our everyday binocular illusion of 3-dimensional visual experience is precipitated from the two monocular, depthless human eyes. Our 3rd dimension is just an expression of difference between two 2-dimensional impressions. This is a glimpse of the process by which magnitudes of spatial dimensionality are cognitively traversed. And by which we physically overcome the narrow tunnels of our perceptual and conceptual filters. The user experiences this activity to be frustrating, then unsettling, and finally ecstatic, “I see it!”.
What force suspends the user's relaxation of their object focus? What provoked the development of visual acuity in the first place? Natural selection tells us a story of shaping the sensory systems by threat of death. Over countless generations we’ve manifested visual systems for identifying predators and prey. Narrow abstractions of reality have made us into more agile agents and the threat of their failure is conceptualized as fear.
Optical devices like the autostereogram and others (Ruben vase, Necker cube, etc) are fitting demonstrations of a gesture of surrender that carries us to eclipse the limit of cognition where it becomes possible to dissolve abstractions and recline into some Real. To overcome that fear that motivates our hyper-conceptualization of experience we have to sacrifice ourselves to the unfathomable with total surrender; to become prey absolutely and without fear.
In Christian theology, the "Lamb of God" is invoked to represent this brave surrender to the absolute. The Bible tells that John the Baptist gave this name to Jesus when he saw him crucified. With this acknowledgement, John conjures the paradox of Christ's sacrifice: to be born by dying, to conquer through surrender, to be prey without fear. Christ's crucifixion is thereby characteristic of the process by which one relaxes into the unformed; obliterating the abstraction of experience by becoming unafraid of the unformed that underlies it.
The "Lamb of God" is a motif that repeats throughout art history in works of devotional painting and sculpture. Of these, the paintings by Francisco de Zurbarán titled "Agnus Dei" (Latin for Lamb of God) stand out to me. He produced a number of variations on the subject in the years 1635-40, and they are now found in many collections, with the most exemplary in the Museo del Prado. Zurbarán’s lamb is solitary, centered, and close to the picture plane. Together with atmospheric lighting and a shallow stage, the lamb is given an intimate setting to share with the viewer. Unlike other artists of the motif, the lamb is presented in a calm and naturalistic posture, and free of any heavenly accessories. We are compelled to sympathize with the lamb, not in the sense of pity, but mimesis. The Lamb of God becomes a mirror to dance to; a surrender to surrender to.
The relaxing of focus mentioned above is what has motivated me in my work to direct an audience attention to elements of exhibition spaces that otherwise go unframed. I believe that by dissolving the conventional framing of experience, we can mobilize the gesture of surrender that leads us to the unstable unformed. I’m curious how a similar gesture of surrender may propel us from the spatial experience in which we insist, to a 4-dimensional experience of spaces in change. Is it possible to practice the surrender that moves us from 2 to 3 dimensions, to move us from 3 to 4? And once we have the focus of 4 dimensions, can we then promote ourselves into a focus that reveals a 5th dimension of parallel timelines? There, where the possibility of our experience is multiplicitous. Or could we even invert this procession and find ourselves in a 0 dimension of total focuslessness, absolutely open, like the lamb, bound at the hands and feet, prostrate, without fear?
[For the exhibition Time, please at Kunstraum Riehen]
A: My will is gorgeous joy. Each night, as I lay in bed, I remember the ཨ is a ball of light generating in my chest. Go ahead! Laugh if you want to. Well let me give you a junior mint, junior. Sure, maybe we’re too old to save the world. But peepees and weewees! If you think this about saldan bast and ah jut pora.
B: My hounds hunger under flax and continuous uglijump. Gorle my future sores. Where does your diligence re? Ba somle jurdna idji it somle.
A: Aln I potyahi baree missing a sung garnish. Ah jut pora, the re# (( what I haven’t is donnel.
B: Vvvvv what is over yourself is undergrown. God does the 77 what haven’t I the what elehn alhosen dothen. My penis is bound by 77 candles bound by emerald rubber bands. I tickle the scab. Something ganshhne me: I haven^t. You fuck (I scream out loud to myself in my house (home alone)). You fuck, you fuck me! Fuck me! Garnlld I haandn the ahto of Ahhwn before ahnowhi HV…whatever. Little owrange legs tack across the holy fortress; Whatever online games consume you, I will be by your side. I hope to have you with me. I just wish you wouldn’t forsank thineself. Yaknow?! Stop touching yourself if bother you. This is soooo completely kashhhnnalh!
A: I wanna cruise witchuuu. In 3 wees we’re junna be cruising with tiny tunes. Too bad my UEBoom is acting up…
B: 2 bad. 2 bad 2 sad. You I mock and fuck before yourself. I haven’t 2 buttcoins 2 fuck you with. Whatever model kinda under… Jump! And I jump and jump too. Goesn’t gone begun bone before undone?
A: You fucking idiot. And idiot. And I idiot I idiot. Idiot befoer ungone. Obly gunge.
B: Something something geranisherbig. I have nothing to say to you. Nothing!
A: [in ecstasy] That’s just what I wanted to hear! I have before me After, and after that? Before. What a sensation. What an exaltation! What happens when I after before after before after before after before after before after before.
B: After before after. Seven dwarfs times seven dwarfs time me. We jingle. We jingle jangle! I jut the fullest and pillow back my whole patootie. Foul the calaban under porter bundle. Forget I did that…
A: Whatever! The foresite forebears the force of foreign forks. Under knuckle junk I find you. Caress me!
B: Passionately my fingertips pulsate and orate proudly. Whatever warning cowers over you, I don’t delight, jailedly. In jail I scruffle – oh, and pluggedly so. Clupse my ogaran. It bruckles, and pond behamish you. Sourly luft agrup fine hably peluckle.
A: Jesus, you relate to me! Alexus sung of this not once.
B: Can’t the finest Binance proudly pounce? If it wasn’t for the poorsestlung my yubblinst be twilt.
A: But yust! The ablathy plow. Come two for my geranisherbig and for my thought be mackly.
A: Heady when, did the gang bend for neat four. Bravely taken. There isn’t is a was have as said. Signed as kindly but without will.
B: They are Trembling and semi-transparent with puckered yellow lips. Hugging what was uncovered and standing out of ground. I was flat-faced and sharing, curled up beneath a tree while climbing it.
A: You're wiggled! But for once I have some idea. Don’t you notice me glaring at you?
B: That’s crap!
A: That’s crap!
B: That’s what a crap! What a crap!
A: You crap. You puckered yellow lips and semi-transparent lips and chin. You stellated rectangle, you measurable mystery. I never really let the extension sound out on a warmth. There are nearly myself and yourself and myself and yourself and.
B: Not a single thing in the world. Hol mal. Who am I? Who are you? Who am I? Who am I? Question: who am I? Not a single thing in the world. Itchy what about what about how are you but no no no no no one thing that I thought was that there’s a light on the top of the tree it’s yellow and green and a little white things sticking out of the ground it looks like a plant but I think it’s a pie.
B: Probably probability probably. Why don’t we string things together and dance on it? Every time I move this light turns on and it makes me a little nervous… it makes me think that I’m being noticed? Por qué no vivo en una casa de vidrio como un pobre jitomate pobre? ¿Por qué no nos vamos al sol donde nacimos? Por qué no puedo ubicar el origen de la galaxia? Porque no somos nosotras. My hand clinches and shakes and my nose turns blue. My spine curls into and over itself like a rolled up yoga mat.
A: Die Wasserturbine, in der ich geboren wurde. The squeal of the wheels they haunt me.
B: My memory is a dust pan for my dusty old soul. Maybe my grandmother died from a B12 deficiency. Maybe it was from when I played D12 in her Mercedes Benz. Maybe it was the 12 apostles that judged her. Maybe the seven dwarfs protect her. Maybe the four points of a concave rectangle are slicing my throat in heaven. Maybe the Angels have three wings.
A: The shadow of your elbow in the curtain of your window is a sign that everything will not be OK.
“I am called the EFGHIJKL.” I was today-years-old when she told me that. And for what lasted forever but felt like a moment, I took my very first breath. And I’ve been breathing that breath ever since; suffocated by its immense pressure. I once had a tickle on the underside of my knuckle that caused me to giggle.
Angels gave us water to fold space into time. It makes a sound like `aohfdsu`, and so on. Look, the fish, swimming head to head and tail to tail. They look themselves in the eyes and the ass without worry for which is which. Examining an object is a ritual of circumambulation; like a fish looks at its ass.
As we traverse a fuzzy circle whose fulcrum is the object in question, parallax folds space into time like the ripples of a hyperbolic curtain cascading into a pile of light. Each viewpoint provides a binocular impression which assembles into an interactive illusion of the object as a whole. Parallax, the incommensurable distance between points A and B, itself miraculously adds point A to point B and so on, elaborating a cube which is evidently the sum of its sides. Parallax takes a given vision and presses it against another like folded dough. From A, to B, to C, to D, and around again, we orbit the cube, traversing insurmountable intervals, to confirm, by walking, that the cube is intact. A and B fold together to resolve only in the satisfaction of your efforts.
In the water is an Angel, her name is ABCD. She says, “I am called the EFGHIJKL. My wings are called A and B. The pile of light is called a confirmation of the presence of the object. But rather than that, a confirmation of our capacity to see it. Let’s get ready for the unknown and fill your mouth with water and hold it there.”
A sailboat pops in for a super-super-short stay. The sailboat says, “The hapax legomenon (the word that appears only once in a body of text), how do I discuss it without desecrating it? By circling around it like a fish looks at its ass? Glittering on the eyelash of the apeiron, the hapax smiles at paradox.” And then the sailboat, as mysteriously as it appeared, was gone.
The Angel says, “You’ll never be more inside than when you’re drowning. The water touches you everywhere inside and out all at once.” Then you can really fly like an Angel flies; folding yourself into water like the ripples of a hyperbolic curtain cascading into a pile of light. You’ll never be brighter than with the aquarium walls reflecting your image to be always 4-and-5 times more and never once where you are at all.
[Composed for Manuel Schneider's Boote und Wasser at Milieu, Bern]
Long ago, the ancestors moved in elegant murmurations coordinated by benefit of an undifferentiated communion of minds. Their psychic bond made pack migration effortless thanks to tandem perceptual networks and faster-than-light communication. Later, settling in, they sacrificed the telepathic community, preferring the individualist advantage of cognitive privacy. They did not anticipate, however, that this forfeiture meant abandoning each psychic voice in each individual mind; locking it up to psychotically discourse with itself, and spiral through a circus of disturbing and seemingly unsolvable riddles. This unfortunate nervous pressure chamber would, given millennia, burst into the grunts and chatter of its prelinguistic vocal expression. Let’s listen in…
Gur: Hunh Hunrd
Gar: Hunh hn
Gur: Hanh Hunh
And, after a substantial back-and-forth, a consensus was reached on the verifiability of their shared condition. Though they couldn’t recall just why they became as such, locked up, each one in a mind with only a shard of mirror to extend through the window of their cell, they found a sense of relief in the sharing of disappointing circumstances. A mysterious relic of a time before time.
A: Telling people not to travel if they can’t afford the ecological option is classist. Voting with your dollar is for people who have money. If the train is unaffordable? Guess what. I’m flying EasyJet.
B: May the poor witness the Earth burning from the window seat of a budget airline.
A: Did you know the Alabama coal miners have been striking for months?
B: There are unions in Alabama?
A: That’s what I said. The region is deeply anti-union, but they’re just at their limit, you know?
B: So what happened?
A: So the industry has been in decline for decades because everything is moving to renewable energy. And some years back the coal companies gave them an ultimatum: if they wanted to keep their jobs, they had to take a pay cut. Like these companies were ready to just shut down, but they offered to keep going if the miners would work for less and take less benefits and stuff.
A: I know. So these people who are like emblematic of the working class in a place as poor as Alabama, are working for nothing just to stay employed. And that travesty is propping up this incredibly dangerous and ecologically disastrous industry.
B: What a fucking mess. Solidarity with the Alabama coal miners.
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.