Unreal Nature

November 30, 2019

In Life, However

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:03 am

… There are only horizons that vanish as you approach them …

This is from Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture by Tim Ingold (2013):

… the problem with the straight line is this: once it has reached its end, what then?

… our most fundamental knowledge of movement cannot be grasped in terms of what linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson call the ‘source-path-goal’ schema. In this schema, the body is understood not as movement in itself, or as a constellation of movements, but rather as an object — self-contained and externally bound — that moves. They call it a ‘trajector.’ And this trajector, located at any particular moment in a certain position, is on its way from one point (the source) to another (the goal). In life, however, there are no start points and end points. There are only horizons that vanish as you approach them, while further horizons loom ahead.

My most recent previous post from Ingold’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

November 29, 2019

Yes They Are

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:51 am

… That which we normally designate as an object is in fact a symbol of our ability to compute invariants.

This is from Understanding Systems: Conversations on Epistemology and Ethics by Heinz von Foerster / Bernhard Pörksen translated by Karen Leube (2002):

[ … ]

Bernhard Pörksen: I’m afraid that I still do not exactly understand this process of “knowing.” At some point, the process of correlating different perceptions that are within oneself must come to a close in order to allow a final impression to emerge. Something like, “Enough already, that’s a hornet!”

Heinz von Foerster: The way I see it, knowledge doesn’t reach some sort of final endpoint. No, it involves an endless and constant circularity. Just as I have begun to know something I start to know it all over again. You might describe my idea of knowledge as “processology.” One’s entire sensomotoricity, the muscles and the senses, continuously produce a reciprocal response and as this takes place, objects are created.

BP: But there must be at least some preliminary results of the knowledge process, since I experience the objects that I perceive as being constant. Contrary to what your “processology” suggests, they aren’t actually in a state of continuous change.

HF: Yes, they are. The thing that we refer to as an object is changing all the time. You never perceive exactly the same object, exactly the same glass, and exactly the same cube. Even when you look in the mirror when you get up in the morning you always see a different Bernhard Pörksen.

[ … ]

HF: … It is important to understand that when we talk about this computing process we are talking about a competency. I think that what we refer to as an object is in fact a competency of our nervous system that enables us to compute invariants. That which we normally designate as an object is in fact a symbol of our ability to compute invariants.

My previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

November 28, 2019

An Advancing

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:15 am

… not an illusion but nor is it a simple presence …

This is from Portrait by Jean-Luc Nancy, translated by Sarah Clift and Simon Sparks (2018):

… The portrait does not seek to capture the identity of a figure, nor does it seek to capture identity within a figure. Rather, it allows for something to approach and recede, so that it is less a question of identity than of presence, in the sense that this latter cannot be identified with pure position, to a being-here that is duly located or assigned to its place but, in an entirely different way, presents itself, advances and appears in a happening that cannot be situated or fixed.

… The image in its true value is not an illusion but nor is it a simple presence: it is an arrival, a movement, an advancing, or a rising from the depths.

My most recent previous post from Nancy’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

November 27, 2019

The Nature of Each

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:56 am

… The body is not the locus of ideas …

Continuing through The Incorporeal: Ontology, Ethics, and the Limits of Materialism by Elizabeth Grosz (2017):

…The mind is not the mental effect or accompaniment of the body and thus tied to ideas which come only from “its” body; rather the mind operates in and is affected by all sorts of ideas just as the body is affected by all sorts of bodies, each with a relative autonomy. Ideas arise first from perceptions, limited and naïve in infancy and childhood, but then, through learning, that is, access to other ideas, they may move beyond or in complication of what appears in perception.

[line break added] Spinoza twice uses the example of the sun, which appears to us, following only the coordinates provided by perception, as two hundred feet away when, with the help of science, we understand it to be millions of miles away. Ideas thrive on other ideas. They are enhanced or diminished, revivified or problematized by other ideas, more and more remote from those provided directly by the body.

[line break added] The body is not the locus of ideas, nor do ideas reside in a body: ideas connect with and are affected by other ideas, and bodies connect with and are affected by other bodies. It is clear that, for Spinoza, “having” a mind, or ideas, gives us no special knowledge of our own bodies or other bodies. This is learned through the relations between ideas.

The body is not a thing any more than the mind is a thing; the nature of each is continually modified by the creative encounters that bodies undergo with other bodies and that ideas undergo with other ideas: “The human mind does not know the human body itself, nor does it know that it exists, except through ideas of affections by which the human body is affected.”

My most recent previous post from Grosz’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

November 26, 2019

The Rivulet of Fresh Air

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:49 am

…An unabsorbable residue of presentness prevents the cycle ever from completing itself as a final stability …

This is from Jeffrey Kipnis’s introduction to Written Into the Void: Selected Writings 1990-2004 by Peter Eisenman (2007):

… In retrospect, forty years later, the insignificant metal hinge that regulates the opening of that one window now rises to challenge the dematerialized conceptuality of Eisenman’s original argument.* In effect, it become Terragni’s brushstroke, the inescapable material gesture necessary for the artist to render his idea. With its physicality comes the phenomenal — the rivulet of fresh air that flows around the glass barrier into its unique gap — and the affective — the vague feelings that well for a moment when that one open window is seen half consciously by passersby on the street.

[ … ]

… Through presentness and the heretical bent of a select few, the stranglehold of orthodoxy is loosened, and the process of becoming renews. An unabsorbable residue of presentness prevents the cycle ever from completing itself as a final stability, pushing it into a spiral whose historical vector cannot be said to point toward progress, but may fairly be said to point toward increased intricacy. When architecture’s metaphysics of presence sublimates revealed presentness into a new insidedness, a turn of the spiral completes.

[*what Kipnis describes as Eisenman’s “aria of the window, the story of the single pane of glass in [Giuseppe Terragni’s] Casa del Fascio different from all others.”]

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

November 25, 2019

Part of Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:10 am

… Perhaps the best systems for knowing do not involve a stable unchanging mode of operation.

This is from Jessica Stockholder (1995) The following are Stockholder’s own words, from 1992:

… It used to be that artists worked within shared conventions of iconography and style. Now each artist develops her/his own individual style or relationship to style as a concept; and each artist determines what the subject of their work will be. As a result, attention to context (the physical and social circumstances within which the work is viewed) is heightened as it has become one of few elements tying many divergent activities together as ‘art.’ Context, replete with meaning, has become a shared point of departure.

… The art objects of Western culture exist in an alienated space created by our framing of the work. Aside from literally framing work or putting it on a pedestal, we frame it by placing it within the institution of the gallery; we then carry the institution with us, in mind, as the context or place for art. It becomes our ‘frame’ of reference; we use it to establish a ‘point of view.’ The resulting separation of the art object from normal time and space enables art to function as a metaphor for thinking processes. I love the level of abstraction and the freedom of action this makes possible.

My work doesn’t have a frame in the usual sense, nor a pedestal. But it often relies on its status as art to be a gestalt; it would otherwise not exist as a separate entity among everything else. Each piece relies on its context for definition and also on the idea of ‘frame’ that we all carry with us. We the viewers complete the work, or fill in the blanks, responding to cues in the work. There is an important contradiction here — the frame, though it is only an abstraction, functions to hold the work apart from real time and remove it to an elevated timelessness; but to the extent that the viewer participates in framing the work, the frame becomes part of real time, part of life.

I structure the work so that experience of it engenders a struggle between these different ways of viewing. This struggle presents a process of questioning rather than a fait accompli. It contributes to the rise of a kind of blur, a confusion of boundary, and it questions the possibility of containing bodies of information or ideas. Perhaps the best systems for knowing do not involve a stable unchanging mode of operation.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

November 24, 2019

Here It Is

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:27 am

… The subject falls asleep, the objects wake up.

Continuing through The Incandescent by Michel Serres, translated by Randolph Burks (2003; 2018):

… I care about making nature enter into culture. Traditionally, hard, enslaved, indifferent, today nature is becoming, under the influence of our global actions, ally, threatening, symbiont, interesting. The I ignored it. I care about introducing a subject in which objects take part in philosophy. Here it is.

… The wind forms waves on the sea as though it were a matter of lines on a page; the river traces its route along the thalweg and the glacier does so in the valley; the axis projects the exact latitude of a place onto its sundial; the stylus scarifies the wax, and the diamond point engraves its mark on the window pane. Let’s not claim we alone write. Oil and water don’t mix; bodies select partners for their combinations to the exclusion of other elements; crystals endowed with impurities rectify the direction of certain flows. The act of choosing doesn’t concern us alone. Ice sheets, cliffs, radioactive bodies engram memories. Let’s not claim we alone remember. In short, the things themselves, inert, as well as the living things exchange elements, energy and information, preserve this latter, spread it, select it.

… The subject falls asleep, the objects wake up. So when the world’s background noise contributes to life, languages and societies so as to weaken the cogito in the first person, the old borders of the in itself and the for itself disappear.

My most recent previous post from Serres’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

November 23, 2019

The Fish Remains

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:14 am

… That, says Kandinsky, is why he prefers the line to the fish …

This is from Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture by Tim Ingold (2013):

… In his essay ‘On the spiritual in art,’ Kandinsky insists that abstraction does not mean draining a work of content so as to leave only an empty outline or a pure geometrical form. On the contrary, it means removing all those figurative elements that refer only to the externalities of things, that is to their outward appearance, in order to reveal what he called their ‘inner necessity.’

[line break added] By this he meant the life force that animates them and that, since it animates us too, allows us to join with them and experience their affects and pulsations from within. In a charming sketch penned in 1935, Kandinsky asks us to consider the similarities and differences between a line and a fish. They do have certain things in common: both are animated by forces internal to them that find expression in the linear quality of movement.

[line break added] A fish streaking through the water could be a line. Yet the fish remains a creature of the external world — a world of organisms and their environments — and depends on this world to exist. The line, by contrast, does not. The line is no more, and no less, than life itself. That, says Kandinsky, is why he prefers the line to the fish, at least in his painting.

[line break added] And this too is why Deleuze and Guattari, following Kandinsky, can say of ‘a line that delimits nothing that describes no contour, that no longer goes from point to point but passes between points, … that is without outside or inside, form or background, beginning or end and that is alive as a continuous variation,’ that it is abstract. Such is the line of the river current, or of the ebb and flow of the tide, as distinct from the riverbank or coastline plotted on the cartographer’s chart.

… Look at nature, as landscape, and there are, as Goya said, no lines to be seen. They exist only in its graphic representations. Look with it, however, as a manifold of earth and sky, join in the movements of its formation, and lines are everywhere. For they are the very lines along which we and other creatures live.

My most recent previous post from Ingold’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

November 22, 2019

Until the Liar Has Started

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:52 am

… Imagine a circle …

This is from Understanding Systems: Conversations on Epistemology and Ethics by Heinz von Foerster / Bernhard Pörksen translated by Karen Leube (2002):

If there were no such thing as a lie, everything that we say would be true. But with Ockham’s semantic razor, we do not have to mention anything that is universally valid. That means truth does not come about until the liar has started doing his or her job. “Truth is the invention of a liar.”

I was quite proud of myself for coming up with this insight and rushed over to a philosopher friend of mine so he could share in my discovery. “My dear Heinz,” he said, “you’re half a millennium too late!” and told me to read Nicholas of Cusa.

“Why him?” I wanted to know.

And so I learned that in God’s infinite kingdom there are no lies. Everything is true. But everything is true because there are no lies. In order to make this easier to understand, Nicholas of Cusa provides us with a metaphor. Imagine a circle with a finite diameter and allow the circle to grow and grow and grow until the diameter becomes infinitely large. Then the circumference becomes a straight line. An infinite circle is identical to a straight line! The opposites coincide with each other. It’s the coincidentia oppositorum.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

November 21, 2019

It Feels Itself to Bear

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:17 am

… the human figure … stubbornly demands another recognition of alterity that it feels itself to bear …

This is from Portrait by Jean-Luc Nancy, translated by Sarah Clift and Simon Sparks (2018):

… one must, of course, take note of the truly remarkable insistence on a human figure. This human figure not only persists and insists right up to its erasure, its distancing, and its blurring, but it still requires — that is to say, anew, newly — a look for which and through which the human figure should neither be stiffened into an ideal nor immersed into a dense “real,” but should be recognized for what it bears — or what bears it — other than the completed identity of a form closed in upon itself.

… We have to imagine that when divine figures are entirely effaced, when the arts can no longer base representation on mythological glory — whether that glory be religious, heroic, historical, or moral — the human figure, which had previously welcomed a glorious strangeness, stubbornly demands another recognition of alterity that it feels itself to bear and without which — be it deprived of glory, indecipherable, impenetrable — it could not attain the minimum of ipseity or selfhood needed to exist.

My most recent previous post from Nancy’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

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