Vanishing Points: Articulations of Death, Fragmentation, and the Unexperienced Experience of Created Objects by Natasha Chuk


965afe02fbbe648-261x361.jpg Author Natasha Chuk
Isbn 9781783204762
File size 4.4MB
Year 2015
Pages 196
Language English
File format PDF
Category art



 

Vanishing Points Vanishing Points Articulations of Death, Fragmentation, and the Unexperienced Experience of Created Objects Natasha Chuk intellect Bristol, UK / Chicago, USA First published in the UK in 2015 by Intellect, The Mill, Parnall Road, Fishponds, Bristol, BS16 3JG, UK First published in the USA in 2015 by Intellect, The University of Chicago Press, 1427 E. 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA Copyright © 2015 Intellect Ltd All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Copy-editor: MPS Technologies Cover designer: Holly Rose Production manager: Claire Organ Typesetting: Contentra Technologies Print ISBN: 978-1-78320-476-2 ePDF ISBN: 978-1-78320-478-6 ePub ISBN: 978-1-78320-477-9 Printed and bound by Gwasg Gomer Cyf / Gomer Press Ltd, UK Contents Foreword by Victor Vitanza  Introduction vii 1 Chapter 1:  Ruptures: Negation in the Created Object  11 Chapter 2:  Art and Unexperienced Experience  29 Chapter 3:  Memorialization and Objects of the Dead  43 Chapter 4:  The Apparatus and the Unfixed Vanishing Point  67 Chapter 5:  Presence, Absence, and Play in the Hyperreal Spaces of Computation  93 Chapter 6:  Traces of Absence in Photography: Dina Kantor and Alec Soth  115 Chapter 7:  The Cost of Burying the Dead: Six Feet Under  141 Epilogue:   Resisting Arrest: The Elusive Vanishing Point  173 Bibliography  179 Index 187 Foreword Victor Vitanza What is hidden in laughter must remain so. In the bugginning is the woid, in the muddle is the sounddance. Instead of the sentence, the sounddance. —Georges Bataille —Norman O. Brown The foreword is written by someone other than the author of the book, usually by an authority in the field who brings credibility to the book and the author while celebrating the written work. —Anonymous Time, readers, please? Let us re-begin with notes.  A Performance of—a romance with, virtually an affair with— comically-farcically as it may become—the book: Vanishing Points. About Nothingness. The Foreword keeps trying to climb on top of the book, ‘becoming sexual.’ Erratically so. To make new books.   Writing a Foreword that is an assignment until it becomes an assignation … The immediate question, henceforth, is Who wrote this book? Who is the author, or rather auteur? As in cinema. The object of our desires? This ‘I’ has searched and searched and has found a few clues. Left by someone for someone, but for whom? Some snippets of clues: Let ‘us’ read together the opening: Opening notice: ‘I think a lot about invisibility.’ Then, ‘Reality is increasingly digitally rendered and privacy is becoming more and more difficult to define. I tend to think of it as a privilege, not a given. Privacy engages the ability to opt into hiding and opt out of being available to the public’s senses. As a social subject in a synthetically rendered reality, my participation in the public realm is a default: I am involuntarily open to the signals that require my attention.’ Vanishing Points Well, ‘I’ started with a surveillance, searching for pictures, images, on Google. With not much luck. And yet, there were possibilities that presented themselves. For instance, ‘I’ found Gmail for a possible writer of this book. What presented itself is the following message, which I read supposedly addressed to ‘me.’ It had been there in virtual space for about a year or so. It reads: ‘My Gmail status is set to “invisible”’ and appropriately affirms my choice by informing me “You are invisible.” These are small but significant assurances which make my being tethered to my connectable devices bearable.’ But then again, from Google Contacts, this ‘I’ was told: ‘Visible only to you.’ How charming and unarming! But now what?   This person, ‘I’ discovered further, has on Google six people in circles. I thought, this person must be a connoisseur of people. But the names were in Russian! Exhausting a Google search, ‘I’ searched on LinkedIn, and found ‘someone,’ but the picture was of a television test pattern. On Twitter, I found a female, perhaps, but with wide sunglasses covering most of ‘her’ face. Sunglasses that were comparable to the size that Jacqueline Kennedy was known to wear! After searching through Facebook, however, I found someone. Her. In rather different ways, this experience remains comparable to searching for Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Bobby Fischer, etc. Fort/Da. Fort/Da. Fort/Da. • Last of all: On the impossibility of writing a foreword for Vanishing Points, and yet the necessity of bringing one forth in words by tripping, stumbling over other words. This ‘I’ has not forgotten that The Author is Dead. So really, Why does this ‘I’ search for the dead? But this is a serious matter that takes on a more, non-productive playfulness. In terms of these contraries: Invisible-Visible. Absence-Presence. Death-Life. And yet, more impotently, all that finds itself in the middle. Muddle. As an exclamation, not a question point. Affirmation-!-Negation. And yet, again, rather in a third place. One that is the great exclusion. Yes, the excluded third. As the imagined auteur says: through art and then philosophy or vice & versa. A question arises, however, about the remains, remnants, between, the openness of V&V? And! Some more? Well, it has been determined to be nonpositive affirmations. Jacques Lacan supposedly often asked his patients how far they could count. Is this all about measurement! Accountability! For example, The Vitruvian Man? The measurer of all things! Canonized! Human beings as Man likened to Euclidean Geometry vice versa. With ideal proportions. And yet, ever again, after Euclidean? There comes? Elliptic, Hyperbolic, etc., geometries. An embarrassment of Grotesqueries. A flashback: Remember having your hand slapped and told, ‘Don’t touch that!’ Yet ‘we’ could not not touch ‘it.’ To this day. We desire to touch whatever. Think: The objects of our desires. But really, how does the object touch us, we, who art scattered! If not reassigned. So then, we eventually in time awaken and have a fad discussion of Object-oriented ontologies. viii Foreword And ‘we’ see how the object objects to our subjectivity. Reciprocity of sorts? Then, ‘we,’ some of us, recall the other third of Abject. Abjection. Subject-Object-Abject. Losing our Renaissance vanishing points, our modernity perspectives, all is up for grabs. Floating here and there and over there in the vacuum. As the auteur says: All is to be confronted in the objects that we create. Perhaps it has come, in time, to the revenge of the crystal. Against carbon. Or simply put: the object! Think of a closing time: Think of Mad-cow dis-ease.   Moreover, there is our loss of conceptual starting places (topoi), or our points of stasis to the ex-stasis, being thrown out, yet along side others. Adjacent. Not agents, but adjacencies. Being-there. Say, Design as Dasein. We have lost our sense of time, temporality. Or perhaps it might be better put as ‘we’— who are no longer WE—are experiencing an acceleration of time, in late- or post-modernity. As much as we have remained framed every workday in terms of Tic-Toc, we are being thrown in between the other, middle side of Toc [     ] Tic Waiting for the return of Tic. Let us embrace of tics. Yes, accelerated, but eventually lost. For and in moments, unmeasureable moments. What intrudes perhaps is exemplified in what Freud has called Nachträglichkeit. Too early [Ereignis/Event] Too late. ‘We’ miss a train of thoughts. Are ‘you’ AM or PM. Do not get confused with the question in terms of AC and DC!   • There is so much more that desires to be said. For the moment: Once ever again: Who wrote this book? Which is a question that has eventually here taken this ‘I’ back to Georges Bataille. Rereading, reglancing, searching for my notes in his books. Our books. Nobody’s book. Books … Ah, here are the notes. Bataille thinks it the best of impossible worlds to never, ever be recognized. He writes in Inner Experience: If one proceeds right to the end, one must efface oneself, under go solitude, suffer from it, renounce being recognized: to be as though absent, insane over this, to undergo things without will and without hope, to be elsewhere. One must bury thought alive (due to what exists in its depths). I publish it knowing it in advance to be misread, having to be so. (155; Bataille’s emphasis) Some more background with an anecdote: Bataille was in the Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel seminar that Alexandre Kojève offered at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, in Paris between 1933 and 1939. The seminar deals in part with master-slave struggles for recognition and deals with self-consciousness and in particular the unhappy consciousness. ix Vanishing Points By chance, while reading Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, Bataille sees an intruder. He says: As I write, a ladybug flies under my lamp and alights on my hand; I lift her off and put her on a sheet of paper. A while ago I copied out one of Hegel’s schemas on the paper, a diagram showing the various forms he has for getting from one extremity to the other, from [universality to individuality]. She stopped in the Geist column, where you go from [universal mind to sensory consciousness (individuality)], by way of [people, state, and world history]. Moving along on her perplexed way she drops into a column marked [Life] her home territory before getting to the center column’s ‘unhappy consciousness,’ which is only nominally relevant to her. I’m humiliated by this pretty little bug. I lack any happy consciousness in her presence. (Guilty, 44) For Bataille, it is better to have not been recognized at birth, during his life, and after his life. It would be total invisibility. But surely, he is caught in between invisibility/visibility. • Foreword? As an Afterword? Or as Foreskin: Much less a ‘Circumfession’! As Jacques Derrida writes. Still, what will have been read, say, in a Future Anterior. The impossible times of this vanished book! However, if you are still following the wandering/wondering here, we can think of our lives as informed through paradoxes. That’s simple enough, though daring, nonetheless. Which is what the auteur of Vanishing Points thinks. Brilliantly. This ‘I’ so thinks. Alright, if you are standing in a book store reading this outlandish Foreword, then, this ‘I’ is telling you to purchase this book (or if necessary, steal this book) and take it home and live with it. Face it! In fact, purchase/steal several copies for gifts. For Others. Or if you have borrowed this book, don’t return it! Just keep it! Whatever, with the book in your hands, each night, read a few pages before bedtime. Then, sleep. For the happy unconscious. Works Cited Bataille, Georges. Guilty. Trans. Bruce Boone. Venice, CA: Lapis Press, 1988. . Inner Experience. Trans. Leslie Anne Boldt. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1988. Brown, Norman O. Closing Time. New York: Random House, 1973. Joyce, James. Finnegans Wake. New York: Penguin, 1976. Kojève, Alexandre. ‘Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit.’ Assembled by Raymond Queneau. Allan Bloom (ed.). Trans. James H. Nichols, Jr. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1986. x Introduction Remember what Friedrich Nietzsche advised: ‘Simplify your life: die!’ —Paul Virilio, Art and Fear1 I think a lot about invisibility. The limits of representation are particularly interesting to me, as every medium is destined to fragment, distort, and obstruct reality in one way or another. As digital technologies and the networked spaces that surround them grow increasingly ubiquitous, perceivable lines that separate mediation and direct experience become indecipherable, making social subjects of those of us who engage them. Perceived reality is increasingly digitally rendered and privacy is becoming more and more difficult to define. I tend to think of it as a privilege, not a given. Privacy engages the ability to opt into hiding and opt out of being available to the public’s senses. As a social subject in a synthetically rendered reality, my participation in the public realm is a default: I am involuntarily open to the signals that require my attention. Jacques Derrida reminds us that our bodies are always already open to the world as we cannot help but silently respond to the signals that alert us. With this in mind, my privacy is placed at the altar of sacrifice to the networked connections that perpetually call for its compromise. The kind of solitude and retreat that privacy allows is thus difficult to achieve. What does this mean for the subject who wants to hide and retain some measure of invisibility? My online presence is fairly inactive and my digital footprint faint. Personal images are infrequently available and my daily status is collecting virtual dust, having avoided public updates for months on social networks. I keep my online correspondences almost entirely within the realm of the private, and thus communication publicly initiated by me is a rare occurrence. Instant messaging default settings have been turned off. I avoid public forms of text- or image-based sharing. My Gmail status is set to ‘invisible,’ appropriately confirming this choice with the displayed message ‘You are invisible.’ These are but a few significant assurances that make my being tethered to my connected devices bearable and small doses of privacy achievable. In my maneuvers against a system that I question, my work is anything but inactive. Yet, by most accounts, these combined efforts are essentially means of playing dead, shielding my digital presence with a veil of inaction. Through such quietly rebellious acts, I neglect my digital profile, my online identity, and my virtual second skin. As a result, their vibrancy suffers. To remain socially relevant in networked environments, one must assiduously contribute through regular Internet activity. As such, I am cultivating an Vanishing Points undernourished digital self, one that is entering the territory of digital and social death. Because we are physically invisible to one another in networked environments, and many of our engagements exclusively take place there, our visibility and digital livelihood depend on observable networked actions: posting, updating, tweeting, re-tweeting, uploading, downloading, rating, commenting, liking, endorsing, and deleting. By foregoing many of these actions, I am depleting my digital sustenance but not exactly committing digital suicide. I choose to participate but reject the idea of participating fully. This is the crux of willful negation: I opt out of full participation with a sort of strikethrough mechanism that illustrates my decision to reject without eliminating its traces. The customizable options that allow some measure of privacy achieve performances of invisibility that merely suggest the illusion of total privacy. These acts go against the current in a culture of unfiltered sharing and communication in networked space, which is no small thing, but they also experiment with experiencing the incomprehensible through a play between presence and absence. When my settings are marked ‘invisible,’ it means I am available to communicate, but my presence is hidden from public view. It is a simple way of saying that I am here, but I am not here: I am both, but the degree of my presence has been judiciously reduced. More significantly, every act of opting out after opting in is an act of yes-yes-no in Derrida’s terms. An offer to join is proposed, and the message is received (the first yes); I join (the second yes); then I refuse full participation (no). An alternate form of negation is yes-no: if I really want to be socially invisible, I can avoid entry altogether. The offer to join is proposed (yes) and I answer with refusal (no). Each is a decision of willful negation, a preference not to, a satisfying rebellion of opting in but refusing to participate according to the system’s default settings. But any gestures toward inhabiting the essence of Bartleby, Herman Melville’s disobedient scrivener,2 are limited in that they exist as predetermined actions marked by digital code, programmed by the invisible facilitator who anticipates a bit of opting out here and there. My choices do not feel very rebellious in this light—since the networks I join do not threaten the validity of my membership on account of my inactivity—nor do they secure genuine invisibility. While they offer some satisfaction, my expressions of defiance are too polite. Others have committed splashier acts, like Facebook suicide, deleting their Facebook accounts through an arduous process of verifying the decision one menial but irreversible step at a time. But one would be remiss to suggest that being in between all-in and all-out is less provocative. My uncommitted position keeps the possibility for action open and then continuously denies it. This upsets social media behemoths, like Facebook, which do not ‘easily tolerate a partial buy-in.’3 Facebook offers users the chance to reconsider deletion with the less permanent option of deactivation and then reacts to the decision with updates on missed events and waning friendships to lure the user back. Taunts like these notwithstanding, there can be rebellious satisfaction in the in-between, which refuses an absolute position on the either/ or spectrum. One is encouraged to consider alternative possibilities for using the network. As Geert Lovink says, ‘[Computers] come in all shapes and sizes, to be used for any possible purpose, including global surveillance and virtual sex.’4 I support the creative flexibility of 4 Introduction computers but personally endeavor to occupy networked environments without a lot of fanfare. For me, they are a stage upon which I choose not to act: a canvas that I leave blank. Despite their limitations, my actions are incorrectly interpreted as inactions, invalidating the activity required to play with the perception of my disappearance, or facilitate the illusion of my having disappeared. This invites, but does not fully achieve, digital social death. While invisibility and death are not synonymous, their shared characteristic is residue: my actions of doing and not doing leave traces, as well as, hopefully, curiosity and wanting. Disrupting the order of things by thwarting perception and forcing irresolution is a satisfying tactic toward invisibility, engaging the irresolvable states of being there and being not there. This allows for an occasional surprise appearance—look, I’m not dead after all!—before slipping back into hiding. This kind of partial, or seemingly total, invisibility depends on a medium, which serves as a necessary sleight-of-hand device that deceives. The synthetic landscape of networked environments, for one, wherein a single vanishing point is difficult to decipher, lends itself to subjective orientation. The medium acts as a channel that both obscures and reveals, engaging a play between presence and absence. Paradoxically, observable actions in networked environments are already obscured as they inherently host a plethora of invisible commands. Flows of data we cannot see or interact with exist and invisibly act in an under-layer to our surface-level play space. The implications of this inherently buried existence are vast. As such, we are surrounded by mediated acts of deception. As Sherry Turkle’s research observes, screen communication offers a place to hide.5 Finding ways to play dead or to achieve a degree of invisibility in a highly visible and connected culture are growing rejections of mainstream uses of media, but are, moreover, demonstrations of what Lovink refers to as ‘the beauty of digital discord.’6 The hidden places of a created object are sometimes located in the most unlikely areas. The rise of self-destructive media7 is one gesture toward advocating the right to disappear, countering the celebrated practice of cloud computing and digital preservation. The ability to temporarily leave your avatar and ‘fly’ around undetected in Second Life creates numerous virtual walls of undetectable delineation. One already presumably hides behind his avatar, but leaving that digital body to further hide under the veil of extended invisibility approaches a different level of vanishing while remaining (partially) present. But invisibility is not strictly attached to electronic media, where hiddenness is at its core. Paul Virilio states, ‘Wherever TELEPRESENCE has taken over from PRESENCE, whether physical or graphic, silence spreads, endlessly deepening.’8 Silence is embedded in all things and has immeasurable plurality, forging a glimpse of the unreachable, or unpresentable. Moreover, Virilio reminds us that silence and noise are counterparts to one another and are understood with respect to the underlying relationship between presence and absence: silence has presence as much as it has absence. The marks of silence are measurable and thus produce invisible events that exist in a realm of suspension, forcing out of service, use, or operation the conventions that ground our objective understanding of what defines presence in a created object. Moreover, within this space of suspension, presence and absence freely alternate, making it difficult, if not impossible, to identify a single vanishing point. 5 Vanishing Points Outside of the digital realm, some of the most striking creative objects are subtly designed and executed ruptures, which destabilize the authority of a single vanishing point and tease out variations of presence in the indefinite space of so-called absence across media platforms. The term ‘rupture’ here is a deliberate choice because it suggests danger and evokes violence, appropriately describing the process of creation through destructive means. One such rupture is Guy Debord’s autobiography, wherein he revised his date of birth. This seemingly unaggressive act imposed a double negation on his past and present life, erasing entire portions as though they never existed and establishing a new reality through a negated beginning and end. Robert Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning Drawing similarly conflates the presence and absence of drawn forms, framing traces of the past through the lens of absence and obscuring where one work and artist begins and the other ends. These acts create ruptures in both the creative process (anchored in destruction) and the viewer’s perception of what is perceptible and therefore trusted, forging new realities and multiple points of reference. As such, there is a compelling relationship between mediated experience and perception, both of which are unfixed. Certain quantum mechanics theorists contend that objects exist only at the point of observation. This outlook questions the totality of absence, driving one to acknowledge its residue and subsequently its tethered relationship to presence. It also recognizes the ability to feign absence through partial erasure or by obstructing perception. Perception is always already a trick of the mind and the senses, encompassing both the identifiable and the incomprehensible. Creative ruptures highlight the relationship between presence and absence and invite us to consider and recognize their mutable possibilities—including the ones we have never before experienced—obliterating resolution and the concept of a single vanishing point. These examples underscore an understandable human curiosity in the unknown. To get closer to articulating this: negation actively removes, leaving behind what appears to be absence but is more accurately the presence of absence. This distinction is significant because it indicates traces of what is hidden or deleted and advances the functional role of the parameters of absence. Death, the ultimate ineffable experience, is its own negation: in death you are not simply absent, you are removed from the living. In some ways it follows the logic of the obsolescence model, deeming irrelevant and no longer viable that which is outdated and no longer accessible. In a discouraging struggle to define what death is, resolution can be achieved by describing it in the affirmative or by its parameter: death is not living; death is no longer living; death is the absence of consciousness; death is the ultimate condition of inactivity. Yet this is an imperfect system, getting us closer but not fully reaching the impossible. As Victor Vitanza reminds us, ‘While the negative has its problems, the affirmative, or any attempt to denegate or desublimate the negative, also appears to be problematic.’9 As such, negation and affirmation create moving targets, exposing the plurality of the vanishing point. The incomprehensible is articulated in contradictory ways as we attempt to give it form through created objects. Yet a fascination with death is not necessarily the catalyst for such creative experimentations, rather an interest in pushing the limits of the medium; going beyond what it was designed to do, toward a new sensorial experience, 6 Introduction creative expression, and a bit of rebellion. At the heart of all this is the recognition and, to some extent, the glorification of the limits of representation. As such, these experiments are best served when they push the material limits of the created objects as well. The Vanishing Point Reconsidered That shadow which the picture as it were casts upon the world: How am I to get an exact grasp of it? Here is a deep mystery. It is the mystery of negation: This is not how things are, and yet we can say how things are not. —Ludwig Wittgenstein, Notebooks, 1914–191610 The vanishing point is the meeting place where two parallel lines converge, giving the illusion of depth and establishing spatial orientation between representational objects. Since we are accustomed to a distinguishable vanishing point in most two-dimensional contexts, it is useful to apply its logic to other concepts that require relational understanding. While the singular vanishing point is a valuable tool from an objective standpoint—it resists perceptual confusion, disorientation, and distrust on the part of the audience—it cements the expectation of a unified perspective and linear trajectory, cancelling out the plural possibilities that give form to the imperceptible. Despite this device’s clear-cut utility, an artist is at liberty to construct impossible arrangements of objects in the same two-dimensional space, betraying the logic of orientation between the viewer and the creation. Rembrandt’s The Night Watch (1642)11 is one such example of a construction of impossibilities— including incongruent use of light, depth between objects, and spatial arrangements—that still manages to achieve visual and narrative resolution through a clever bending of the rules of representational rationality. By imposing on the vanishing point a pluralistic utility arranged by multiple perspectives, the created object can advance our understanding of how perceptions of presence and absence meld into a single event and ultimately affect how we perceive, conceptualize, and attempt to give material form to the incomprehensible. Moreover, the exposure and recognition of multiple vanishing points are of great importance toward understanding the value of mediated expressions and their ontological possibilities. Vanishing Points meditates on the relationship between presence and absence in created objects. Specifically, it examines the ways in which the medium of a created object allows for experimentation with, and within, presence and absence, acknowledging the potential to thwart the perception of a single vanishing point and provoke allusions to incomprehensible experiences like death. As such, this work is about the articulation of disappearance, invisibility, and inexpressible experience as depicted in various created objects. This elucidation is evident in works like Ad Reinhardt’s self-described textureless, formless black paintings, or in Mark Rothko’s preoccupation with death, confessed in interviews and depicted in richly textured color blocks of paint on canvas that, over the course of his career, gradually began to merge. 7 Vanishing Points Such stammerings of expression take material form across media: paint, plaster, language, performance, music, photography, celluloid, data, and mixed media. Many of these experiments advance philosophical outlooks, particularly what Jacques Derrida refers to as ‘unexperienced experience.’ This concept, originally referring to a literary device of Maurice Blanchot’s that allows readers to engage in the impossible experience of death, is used here as the basis for an inquiry into how it can be used as a technique in other created objects as different means to the same end. Additionally, references to Paul Virilio’s work on the human sensorial and emotional experiences and their relationship to art are made to support my argument that the imperceptible elements in created objects that engage fabrications of presence and absence formulate a systematic substitute for the inexpressible. Finally, Sigmund Freud’s concept of the death drive is a key figure in the framework for analyzing the motivational tug behind playful demonstrations of presence and absence, especially in his observation and breakdown of the game of fort/da, a type of hide-and-seek, which serves as a model for many creative processes outlined here. The created objects examined in this text are invitations to engage the impossible—the unexperienced experience—incomprehensible, fragmented, and heterogeneous, which are revealed in a mediated exchange between presence and absence. On a basic level, this is achieved through actions like employing the properties of silence, contrasting between darkness and lightness, and demonstrating willful negation. These works demonstrate that working against automatic frameworks of perception and the notion of a singular vanishing point disrupts the idea of a continuous line that affords a singular reading of a created object. In the synthetic context of a created object, absence is both imagined and tangible, but the lines that establish their delineations are the same. What these artists create is an arrangement of vanishing points, which are revealed/discovered in fits and starts, crisscrossing rhizomatically, sometimes as groundless signals as they are deeply embedded in the hidden fibers of the work. The created object produces—and sometimes hides—layers of visibility/invisibility that await discovery and contemplation. As a result, we are able to locate and perceive numerous vanishing points that both orient and distort our perspective. Through myriad styles and forms, the created object achieves the incomprehensible so that it can be observed, manipulated, contained, repeated, and destroyed. The vanishing point that leads to the incomprehensible is unclear, making the difference between presence and absence ambiguous. Its singularity is repeatedly challenged by experiments that provoke this exchange. In this way, the artist is within each of us: the poet, the filmmaker, the architect, the undertaker, and the disinterested scrivener. My own polite acts of social media disobedience thwart the single vanishing point that establishes the beginning of my presence and the end of my absence. Articulations of Presence/Absence The alternation between presence and absence in a created object fosters a deception that hides the multiplicity of vanishing points: within that space, orientation shifts according to varying perspectives. The artworks examined in this text articulate marks of absence by 8 Introduction forcing them into the realm of experience and materiality. Maurizio Cattelan’s tongue-incheek, macabre themes question the resolution of the end and engage in a flirtatious calland-response with death; Debord’s life’s work demonstrates the lingering presence of his indefatigable absence from public interaction; the television drama Six Feet Under brings death into the American living room with facetiousness and provocation; Jacques-Louis David paints the moments just prior to death; Rothko stages the suggestion of violence and death in paint; Dina Kantor’s photographic series documents the disappearance of a condemned small town in Kansas, United States; Christian Marclay unbinds the notions of time and fragmentation in a quilted assemblage of found footage in The Clock; the hidden back room of Pac-Man’s escape route offers a combination of dead space and sanctuary; Reinhardt’s black paintings give shape to a depthless void; and Alec Soth’s photographs locate methods for disappearing into the farthest edges of America. Other artists pervert the notion of a singular vanishing point through more performative means: John Baldessari cremated over fifteen years’ worth of his personal artwork and keeps the remaining ashes in an urn; Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning Drawing is a visual model for a multitude of vanishing points; Nam June Paik’s imageless film Zen for Film (1964) and John Cage’s musical compositions, sans instrumentation, epitomize the containment of absence as a construct of presence; and Caleb Larsen transforms a nondescript black box into a perpetually selfmotivated selling machine/artwork on eBay. Finally, the visual style of Ingmar Bergman’s films and Alfred Hitchcock’s more mainstream oeuvre are relevant here: the former creates a visual and perceptual ‘resting in not-existence’ and the latter’s long-held obsession with invisibility plays out in stylized narratives that heighten absence in a decidedly visual form. Through these created objects, we gain a particular perspective, condition, attitude, or motivation toward experiencing and exploring the plurality of the vanishing point, by entering the territory of unexperienced experience. Though many of the artworks selected for this text directly or indirectly relate to the subject of death, they are examined here primarily because they characterize or give form to their subject through an interplay between presence and absence, dissolving the functional singularity of the vanishing point and yielding the possibility for unexperienced experience. Vanishing Points does not aim to be an all-inclusive art history account of created objects that relate to death, nor does it attempt the impossible task of including a comprehensive narrative of human attitudes toward death. Instead, it looks to these two areas of study for content that supports the idea that invisibility is created, controlled, and negotiated in created objects, particularly through willful acts of negation across mediums and the use of ‘nothing’ as a creative tool. Through sometimes irreverent but always experimental means, these created objects emphasize removal as an agent to expose what lies beneath; command shifting aspects of orientation; and compromise overall visual, perceptual, and narrative resolution. Vanishing Points was generated by an appreciation of art, a curiosity about death, and an interest in playing dead through acts of invisibility. It is through the created object that we experience the openness of the pluralistic vanishing point, which yields the power to 9

Author Natasha Chuk Isbn 9781783204762 File size 4.4MB Year 2015 Pages 196 Language English File format PDF Category Art Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare Deftly deploying Derrida’s notion of the “unexperienced experience” and building on Paul Virilio’s ideas about the aesthetics of disappearance, Vanishing Points explores the aesthetic character of presence and absence as articulated in contemporary art, photography, film, and emerging media. Addressing works ranging from Robert Rauschenberg to Six Feet Under, Natasha Chuk emphasizes the notion that art is an accident, an event, which registers numerous overlapping, contradictory orientations, or vanishing points, between its own components and the viewers’ perspective—generating the power to create unexperienced experiences. It will be a must read for anyone interested in contemporary art and its intersection with philosophy.     Download (4.4MB) Virilio And Visual Culture The Flesh of Images: Merleau-Ponty between Painting and Cinema Poetry In Painting: Writings On Contemporary Arts And Aesthetics After the Beautiful: Hegel and the Philosophy of Pictorial Modernism Digital Art (world Of Art) Load more posts

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