The Façade Within

The painting is finished and it is a static object—this is a fact but still it can’t be fully known. Inside perception there is an awareness that there is a process of individuation anterior to that individuated “object” and the individuated “subject” who is looking. What is at stake is to discover, through writing, a thought that is older than I am; let’s say it’s a thought that belongs to painting.

Where does writing begin this task? Perhaps, with something that I notice that is not what I expect it to be. There has been a rupture; for what should be a legible sign has become problematic. This legible sign (a motif of an Albers painting, turned upside down, embedded in Uslé’s painting La Garganta de Albers, Las Muelas de Gaudí [2003]) doesn’t address me as ironically postmodern. The cliché has been overcome and, together with the sign of Gaudí, an interior “organisation” has come about. This is the organisation that Maturana and Varela describe as generative of the autopoietic living organism—the painting as a form of life. But its organisation is not reducible to its components, hence, writing must invent something schematic: an internal architecture that can demonstrate how these objects from the past return to create the new—a “radically” new that is not given by that past. Albers and Gaudí return as objects of perception, of course (because I can name them), but there is something else that is invisible and which Uslé’s painting has extracted and which creates these works anew.

This paper will propose such a schema. It will attempt to show how an “opposition” between the metonymic operation of Albers’s rhythms and the metaphoric operation of Gaudí’s façades (between diachrony and synchrony) is both created and overcome in Uslé’s painting through the creation of the figure of an “arche-metaphor.” The work of the arche-metaphor is metamorphosis. Perception is displaced and complicated through a schematisation of the “unlived” or virtual—what accompanies every perception but which can only return through involuntary memory. Ultimately, the arche-metaphor works through the medium of the façade to produce the façade in its essence; disconnected from the empirical façades of the past, it is the façade as a pure and empty form through which different moments resonate in time. The paper will attempt to argue that this essence of “façadeness” is the dramatic event through with the fractured “I” appears—“façadeness” as the revelation of Deleuze’s pure and empty form of time.

Live Sculpture

Live Sculpture is an interactive and performative video-sculpture, built as an auto-poietic and communicating mirror. When the viewer’s body stands in front of Live Sculpture, it is scanned and filmed in real time by a webcam installed behind a Baroque frame and then reanimated and reshaped in a full-size video projection simulating a three-dimensional marble sculpture. The new live image of the viewer-sculpture is entirely built from an ever-changing interactive mesh, which tunes in and reacts to body movements, the environment, light, and the speed of the viewer. My artistic research has always investigated changes in “liquid space” through a variety of techniques, technologies, and devices. The liquid space is unfolded in Live Sculpture by the subject herself, on one side, reshaping the human into something alive and vibrant and, on the other, challenging the notion of sculpture.

As a self-producing structure (Maturana and Varela 1980), Live Sculpture reveals strata, details, and nothing beneath: always in transformation, never reaching another side, never affirming. The interactive mirror—“mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”—gestures to infinity and its “Baroque trait twists and turns its folds, pushing them to infinity, fold over fold, one upon the other” (Deleuze 2006, 3). However, if the viewer might find intimacy in the continuous Droste effect, Live Sculpture remains “a Baroque chiaroscuro, a trompe-l’œil that fools ‘trompe’ no one, yet no one cares to touch its depthless folds. This is the space of the fully accepted, repeated but never shared illusion of unity that is difference” (Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos 2013, 77).

 

References

Deleuze, Gilles. 2006. The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque. Translated by Tom Conley. London: Continuum.

La Cour, Anders, and Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, eds. 2013. Luhmann Observed: Radical Theoretical Encounters. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Maturana Humberto R., and Francisco J. Varela. 1980. Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living. Dordrecht: Springer