UNCLEAR AND INDISTINCT

Descartes

WHATEVER I HAVE A CLEAR AND DISTINCT IDEA OF IS CAPABLE OF EXISTING JUST AS I UNDERSTAND IT, AT LEAST IN PRINCIPLE.  Rene Descartes (1596-1650)

at least in principle … a qualification and after-thought, a modification by the addition of some limitation or reservation to make less strong or positive.

These sixteen grayscale images are digital adjustments of photographic documentation of objects of passing, though energetic interest, including those arising from my own multidisicplinary practice. They distort and make fuzzy and unrecognizable the objects at their source.

My goal is to lend materiality and texture to a medium that is otherwise immaterial and slick: the digital.

The images reflect my work as a whole, which has come to tacitly map a shift in the general regime of thinking and designing away from intention to suggestion, from clarity to obscurity, from revelation and representation to mystery and murkiness, from preconceived ideas willfully imposed on matter to extant material conditions that, once surrendered to, throw off their own forms suggesting design. Resisting the sovereign, static, transcendental, and ideal geometries of Classical and Modern design, I concoct a supple, dynamic, material process of production.

Digital manipulation is a reality of our times. To the extent that this reality conditions our experience, we suffer alienation from the world in which we otherwise naturally inhabit. Our experience of the world is virtual, mediated.

There is nothing particularly new about this. It’s one possibility among others; this one coming to us by way of Kant and the Critical turn. Nietzsche continues the Kantian Critical project by tracing its linguistic aspects. Language mediates our experience of the world. (Consider Heidegger along these lines: language is the house of Being). For Nietzsche, there is no thing-in-itself as Kant hypothesized. There is though, for Nietzsche, a primordial world beneath the abstract, linguistic one (see “On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense”). The artist’s work consists in breaking through the mediated world of language, and composing his or her first impressions of the rudimentary world in lively metaphor. In this context, my images are visual metaphor.

Sartre assumes this structure. For him, when the linguistically mediated world recedes the object is laid bare in an experience of nausea.

Photoshop is generally considered as a tool of enhancement, making the source object better, more refined. Strangely it becomes more recognizable. My work goes in the opposite direction. It erases, not imperfections of the source object, but the source object itself. Something remains though. What remains is no mere remainder, but is the basis of a new reality. If my own work is in any way a part of the Kantian, Nietzschean, Sartrean legacy, the images arising from them are not only critical in nature in the sense implied by being a part of this legacy, they create a new reality. They are, one might say metaphorically, what the demiurge sees through its eyes and understands, but which perplex us and arouse nausea. A grayscale universe of perplexing images of nauseating objects. First photography. The digital, therefore, not merely as a tool, but as an ontology.

Nicephore NeipceJoseph Nicephore Neipce (1814)

 

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