A becoming on the line: painting and the genesis of form. (part 2)
Written by Xaos; Starwalker;
Walking The Fine Line
I wish to begin this unfoldment by rephrasing the ending words of the previous paper, to emphasize the critical aspect of the creative process that accompanies this work, and to phrase it metaphorically as ‘walking the fine line where generation is fertile’.
“In front of my eyes, painting opens a vertical gaze into the genesis of form. For brief instants, causality is exposed in whirls of interconnected subtleties, history not yet on its path to be interpreted, as a fine line that grows tangible, where the inevitable meets vision and where generation is fertile.” (From - Becoming on the line, part 1)
This metaphor is, of course, the domain of the ‘artist’, yet by all means, that ‘artist’, that ‘poet’, that ‘thinker’, is no exception to the line I wish to bring forth here. This line of generation in its fertility does not yield to any appropriation, neither by that which is called ‘thought’, nor by that which is called ‘art’.
With ‘fertile’ I point at the correlation between a genuine genesis of form and the edge of thought. An unmediated correlation of which Art provides numerous examples.
The pioneering expressions of the Dada movement, to mention but one at the beginning of the last century, brought, among other transformations, the articulated necessity to include ‘chance’ within the creative process. In a society still partly devastated by the horrors of a world war, chance and unpredictability in the artworks (think of the works of Hans Arp) acquired a new status, they stood for the artist and for the philosopher as the possible antidote to human inescapable delusions and blindness. The perception, the description and the expression of the order, or lack thereof, which set the picture of the world, had irreversibly changed.
The singular genesis of form and the emerging structure of thought that reflects it do not lead and follow one after the other, neither are they addressed with hierarchical significance, but rather, suggest two superimposed faces of the same process of becoming.
In this sense I treat the written word no differently than the work of art, as I do not believe that breaking the determinism of matter is a privilege of ideas, or of objects. Ideas emerge within the same creative process as matter, striving towards individuation through the shifting grounds of ambiguity, through exploration and form-finding, avoiding the repetition of deterministic paths mostly by interaction.
The pursuit of open-endedness aims to entice the generative engines that operate in the creative process. ‘Fertile’ from this standpoint demands an open-ended world that allows the future not to be completely defined by the past, nor to be confined totally within the subject, as it pursues the depth and complexity that provide the rare instances, in which the subjective meets the surface of the objective and vice versa.
Our measuring devices, though, cannot but distinguish and separate between form and process, between objective and subjective, and it is upon such chasms, between our intuition and our measuring devices that our culture strives for much needed bridges. For the peaks of our subjectivity (insights) and the heights of our objectivity (measurements) do not rest in the same poetry.
The way into a work of art is a Ritual
The way into a work of art is a ritual. The reverse engineering of it may, if at all, uncover a path made of critical phases, one of these being when all lines of distinction fade away and everything bleeds into everything else. The making is charged with a sense of infiltration into a state of perceptiveness less riddled with “rulers of perception”. This is where ideas meet colors, passion meets atoms and nature meets imagination.
This is when ‘matter’ becomes active and soft, and creativity loses its illusive locality. Deleuze, I believe, calls this realm of reality “Body Without organs”*. It originates with Antonin Artaud’s radio play - To Have Done with the Judgment of God (1947):
“When you will have made him a body without organs,
then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions
and restored him to his true freedom.”
Substantive conjunctions seduce the creative process to explore outside the boundaries of the familiar, seeking co-emergent intensities rather than well-defined forms, intensities that drive unexpected processes.
It is never about the ‘new’, or change, those distinctions are made in retrospective when updating the map of representations, it is however about intensities that drive unexpected processes, the very ‘code’ of intelligence-expansion where generation is fertile.
The artist deals with transformations, with nodal points of no return, where the horizon ahead exposes for a brief moment “all floating forms of what may be…” (Goethe**). The yet invisible path hung among these floating forms and the growing tension accompanying the view is a good grasp of the sense of aesthetically alive.
In there hang as well the scientifically earned predictable answers, our superior ability to control our environment. Yet these cannot or should not hang in there alone, the price for it being the returning illusion of control and the gradual reduction of our world to the aspects we can understand, measure and command.
The question of open-endedness and dis-continuity
The question I am keen on exploring asks where is the genesis of form placed in our culture and minds today? In whose hands does it lie? And what picture of the world does it mirror? As, wherever the genesis of form is placed, it determines the “generative capacity” of the resulting world. This is both a philosophical and a political question, one which touches our self-description as humans as well as most of our current collective endeavors.
In our cultural evolution, successive waves of thought and expression liberated the genesis of form from the hands of the gods, as we departed from mythology and set our gaze upon an eventful quest, which brought science, philosophy and art into being.
Though it is beyond the scope of this writing, a careful sampling of the repertoire of theories and dynamics of development in our background, might suggest that the lines of development of the picture(s) of the world do not necessarily converge into one unifying truth, but rather towards a dynamic increase in the generative capacity of the world and of us.
The Moment we disconnect Form from a scarce resource, be it an idea, an essence, or god ; the moment we disconnect the Word from a-priori representations of definite elements in the world and recognize its generative abilities***; the moment we think of matter itself as pregnant with morphogenetic aptitudes (a-la Deleuze****), that is when a generative capacity is introduced into the picture of the world. A generative capacity which does not require any ‘external’ assumption to entice, maintain or conspire form into world.
All is Matter
Observations of Form, generally speaking, tend to lean upon three notions: the notion of cause and effect, hence, forms enfold a definite origin. The notion of stable identity or continuity, hence, forms unfold a set of prime features (essence, ideas, soul), which maintain their identity through processes and are immune to them. The notion of a quantified shape, hence, forms are intrinsically measurable.
The act of disconnecting form from a linear origin and from a definite identity allows form and reality to co-relate in an unmediated and non-reductionist fashion. This brings to mind the axial phrase of Buddhist philosophy - "form is emptiness; emptiness is form" (The Heart Sutra). Where Emptiness points to a set of fundamental views about reality: the notion of non-inherent existence, the notion of inter-dependence and the notion of being in a flux).
That which is exposed is a view of ‘Matter’, which is Generative. Such view is radically different from the scarce materiality funded by a duality of mind and body, or else, by the opposition of materialism and spirituality. It rather stands as a vision of reality in terms of embodied corporality, soft and active matter that is rumbling in all directions. Fertility is not about ‘spirit’, nor about matter, fertility belongs to intensities in process (relieved from the burden of crystallized measurability).
All is Matter; not in the sense of homogeneity or oneness, but in the sense of the corporality of space and time; of embodied gradients in interaction that partake in engendering the fabric of reality.
It is distinct materiality and gradients that we encounter in the multi-dimensional phase-space that we name universe; substances as bodies, minds and meanings; me and the word ‘me’, nothing is disconnected from matter, nothing can be deemed immaterial. Nothing need be. Immateriality is not, in this sense, our privileged way out of a blind physical world; it is the realization of the limitations of reductionist descriptions, which we need in order to build a valid alternative.
We seek the next bend in the tale of this continuous poiesis, bearing in mind that forms are interrupted instances in the flow of morphogenesis.
My last works emerge with such flow of contemplation. Rather than composing, I ‘grow’ my images from the materials, surfaces and mediums I am using. Technology is my organ of apprehension through which I curate the generative capacity of the work. In this plasticity of production I find myself to be a multitude and art to be singular, yet, in a never-ending becoming.
These impossible creatures are as alien as they are familiar, always in the soft middle, always in flight on the fractal borderline between process and form. They and we, whatever this we may embrace, exist in an endless dance of becoming, exciting and being excited, walking the fine line where generation is fertile.
What are we after, if not to challenge the shape of beauty and self? If not the carving, in real time, of a previously unrecognized layer of intimacy? Aesthetics, in this sense, is a live matter.
* “Deleuze and Guattari use the term BwO in an extended sense, to refer to the virtual dimension of reality in general (which they more often call "plane of consistency" or "plane of immanence"). In this sense, they speak of a BwO of "the earth." "The Earth," they write, "is a body without organs. This body without organs is permeated by unformed, unstable matters, by flows in all directions, by free intensities or nomadic singularities, by mad or transitory particles" (A Thousand Plateaus, p. 40). That is, we usually think of the world as composed of relatively stable entities ("bodies," beings). But these bodies are really composed of sets of flows moving at various speeds (rocks and mountains as very slow-moving flows; living things as flows of biological material through developmental systems; language as flows of information, words, etc.). This fluid substratum is what Deleuze calls the BwO in a general sense”. Body without organs – Wikipedia article, downloaded on 20/10/13.
** “…formation, transformation / eternal mind’s eternal conversations,/ wreathed with all forms of what may be…” J.W. Goethe, quoted from The New Landscape in Art and Science, G. Kepes (1956)
*** “For a large class of cases—though not for all—in which we employ the word ‘meaning’ it can be defined thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language” quoted from L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, (1953).
**** “Deleuze’s philosophy of matter and form attempts to replace essentialist views of the genesis of form (which imply a conception of matter as an inert receptacle for forms that come from the outside) with one in which matter is already pregnant with morphogenetic capabilities, therefore capable of generating form on its own.” Manuel DeLanda, ”Delanda – Deleuze, Diagrams and the Genesis of Form,” ANY: Architecture New York 23: Diagram Work: Data Mechanics for a Topological Age (June 1998)
Image 1 – the Petri Dish Project by J.D Doria
Image 2 – Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance, ca. 1916-17 by Hans Harp
Image 3 - the Petri Dish Project by J.D Doria
Image 4 – TV Buddha by NAM JUNE PAIK
Image 5 - the Petri Dish Project by J.D Doria
Image 6 - the Petri Dish Project by J.D Doria
Image 7 - the Petri Dish Project by J.D Doria