Monday, March 18, 2013

Gesturalities



"Maybe writing is never anything else but translation — ultimately, a translation which cannot be identified."  -Harry Mathews

Typically in life drawings, and especially in a classroom situation, there is a given period for gesture drawings, usually 30 seconds per pose for the model. This isn't just an empty ritual or formality. It gives both the artist, and the model, time to 'warm up', or to get comfortable in a number of ways. It also allows a certain number of preliminary calibrations to occur, because, above everything, and far above feeling, is a fluid and supple calibration, an inhabitation of translation. But there are other considerations as well, the trying out of new styles, short attempts in reordering approaches, testing out what deliriums seem most articulate to the moment. 'Making it new.'

Calling the act of writing, painting, is fundamental. One need only enter into a casual study of Chinese classical calligraphy to see how utterly dependent the formalist construction of the art is upon the vicissitudes of a set of standardized instruments. In Roman calligraphy, the same is true, but the loose, expressive, subjectivities of the brush, their emotive qualities, have been traded for something more codified, though both forms of calligraphy carry dogmas of an opposition to this in some degree, ie there are places and ways of being expressive in Eastern calligraphy which are accept, and those which are not, and the same is true of Western calligraphy. One can follow the rules, but to give a piece life, there must be some hint of organicism and free play, a twinge of freedom. This looseness within bounds, as well as pertaining to certain elements of style within traditional notions of calligraphy, can readily be applied to notions of genre, notions of speach, grammar, content, form, and even philosophical concerns. Considered in this way, a universal transpositional aesthetic discursivity can be imagined, and to find examples of this process, one need only open, say, the pages of the latest ARTFORUM to Brian Dillon's article on Helen Martin's _Peanuts, 2012_ :

In Marten’s Linus-world, all are equally interesting, all equally digestible. This absurd metamorphosis need not halt at the level of the things themselves—it happens equally to images, ideas, and art. The equivalence Marten canvases is an aspect of contemporary life: All things may be sublimed into immaterial data, then exchanged with everything else, a Richter painting for a pizza. You could posit Marten’s alimentary impulse as an effort to find some physical purchase on the world again in an era of digital evanescence, though that seems a little too tempting: Quite aside from her recourse elsewhere to video and animation, solid things in her work seem just as likely to wink out of their proximate being and reappear as cartoons of themselves. What else is Peanuts, or what might it become? On its spindly legs at the start of the Chisenhale exhibition, it looked like the support for an explanatory museum text. Or then again, a highly schematic landscape: Mediterranean, dust-hued, with a castellated ruin meeting sky or sea at the left. It’s also a wide but drastically foreshortened console or lectern or desk. It’s an especially sparse buffet lunch, or a kitchen worktop, with ingredients neatly picked out like the terms of an equation. “A meal is a plotted space of action,” says Marten, “a ritual, and so also a grammar.” That’s it: Peanuts is a sentence to be parsed or a pictographic conundrum asking to be solved. If Marten likes to play with her food till it morphs into alarming states of matter and meaning, it sometimes seems that the ultimate abjection (or perhaps refinement) of her mutant materials is a declension toward verbal abstraction. The title Peanuts denotes foodstuff, comic strip, animated version of same, but peanuts also means “next to nothing”: an insulting return on a transaction or investment. Language in and around Marten’s sculptures can be paltry or extravagant; her inventories of materials point to an absurd overreach on the part of the manufacturers and marketers of the stuff she deploys. (Consider again that list of what has gone into Peanuts: Sepili and Formica might be the names of neglected nymphs, and Valchromat is clearly an interplanetary despot.) But the work itself is also such a text: If sculpture is of necessity made of the stuff of the consumerist world, Peanuts is something like the list of ingredients on its discarded packaging.

For several weeks now, here on Jellybeanweirdo, I have been toying with 'Gesturalities'. When you upload an image into blogger, one of the options is to add a caption. Taking images out of the context of films and putting them into 'other' kinds of 'films' or sequentialities is one layer of the gesture. Translating or Untranslating, trance-luting, or trans-looting, etc.. And then there are the embedded associations. Many of these films were downloaded using services, many of which use 'captchas' which sounds like 'captious', and so, captious captions became a theme, or became one of the ways in which the activity could be translated. In Brian Dillon's article he mentions probably one of the most important themes I have been interested in, the idea of verbal abstraction. Not just in the sense of abstract language which can be found by picking up any Kant book, but of finding ways of questioning the divide between natural, concrete, and abstract language, ie, What kinds of extended narrativity are available in writing. Abstraction has a wonderfully dual sense, or senselessness to it. An abstraction is something 'drawn out'.. like a foetus from the nutrients in the mother's bloodstream.. I suppose the idea is to make slow, yet short, manually manipulated films, something close to the idea of the view-master, where the web or blog becomes the view-master, and the blog page becomes the little paper wheel.

Here is another blogger doing at least one post along similar linus.. Maybe I should abdocumencate to tubmlr?



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