Thursday, 12 December, 2019

II –

Deep Surface, Geological and Atmospheric Time

The 20th century was the century of space. Before the war we saw three-dimensional Cartesian space as the condition for a rationalistic esthetic organization of life. In architecture the vertical city showed itself to be the outcome of scientifically steered zoning and planning processes. After the war a more phenomenologically tainted approach took over in a humanistic effort to concretize space as unfolding from place: the work of art as the generative power creating surroundings for the participation of creative man.

In the last decades a new form of space announces itself: shallow space (Collin Rowe), shallow depth (Gilles Deleuze) or deep surface (Lars Spuybroek). It is the skin or bas-relief in which the forces of formation, persistence and deformation are inscribed in the surface resulting in textures, relief, rustication, tectonics, posture and gesture.

Stressing the still unfulfilled powers of materials the artist challenges their possibilities in stretching and deforming their properties. Materials behave like Protean matter full of images. The artist becomes a ‘cosmic artisan’ (Deleuze & Guattari): a virtuoso evocating and celebrating the creative powers of the earth. In the modern interior (Wright, Scarpa, Wanders, Zumthor) we live in a mannerist grotto atmospherically participating in this geological time.

Can we sever ourselves from anything? ‘Every atom belonging to me also belongs to you’! (Whitman/ Bekirović). What about that horrible word ‘object’ in which we throw the thing in front of us to pose ourselves in it, on it, to op-pose it and to have it as our mirror? Can we sever ourselves from earth? We are made of the same stuff!  Is not landscape the last relic of this facialization of the earth by the human eager to have it as a postcard in his picture-collection? Is art capable of annihilating the distance? Are we not always that somewhat eccentric part of the thing as the gathering, the thing as an event? In eco-panic times it slowly but definitely becomes clear we cannot separate culture from nature anymore. In ‘Mille Plateaux’ Deleuze and Guattari speak of their famous haecceities, a concept meant to designate forms of individuality that do not pertain to subjects, objects, substances, persons or things. A season, a midsummer-afternoon, the hour of the werewolf, a date. If we become part of such haecceities which we so often find in the modern novel, we co-operate in a cosmic time, our consciousness becomes part of a cosmic imagination. The operating agent is mood, atmospheric time. Thus the roles of subject and object, of  the contemplator and the contemplated melt into each other more and more. A process unfolds: ‘the work of art’. We keep in mind here Mehdi Belhaj Kacem’s statement that:

“I can’t even eat any more without confusing myself with the very substance of the food.”

(Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, 1993, 2007: 205).