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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Geometries And Ghosts (Part 1) Joan Miro And Future Painting

The further things seem to be, for most part, the longer they drift in the memory. I should qualify that circumspect observation by asking that the persistence of things in memory as a qualitative distance, as momentary grasps of time cutting through the gaze of the mundane, the situation, the temporary. To all those things abstractions berate what at first are occurrences of real, as in outwardly formed, apart from us, experiences. Memories are maybe, more concocted as an apparition of language its symbolic valence in the phantom of emotions meta morphed, morphed by the shape of the world in its enduring connectivity. 

Take a photograph which I found the other day of a urban landscape capturing the carved early evening light over a terraced back alley occupied with wheelie bins, bits of junk, left items and scattered street furniture, an innercity, urban environment common to many English towns. Here is an image full of the semiotic semantic of code and symbol, which we read clearly as language, as known things subscribed in a mutual consensus of the named, be it a bin or a street lamp. Like any language though it has derivatives and colloquiums that accent and form, give cadence to a scene, which we recognise within the image (english, urban, innercity) but also we read the image through its very apparatus, the photograph itself, which gives the very sense and nature of what we mean by the word image. The code and the language, describe the world but they don’t penetrate it because fundamentally it is a system of equivalencies and equations in which we centre ourselves. But this curious structuration bubble seems to inhibit language to an automaton of surplus code generated in the inertia of metonymic and metaphoric association. As if language was separate construed against its own material objective. That would make language as something after the physical that is read and recounted but would seem to be nevertheless counter to the experience of it everyday. 

But then If I take another look at this photo and try to expand the vocabulary of the experience further from the collective of semiotic distribution and therefore begin to apprehend the physical image I see a photo and image that are stubborn in their flatness. As if the image has no direct interpolation in simply existing because its materiality is in some way obscured by the very image and its code, so that I see the photograph as image before its constituent make up of colour, surface and texture. The diametric image renders a gap, a suspension derived directly from its real presence. What maybe described as a lag or gestation of experience, as the sum of the recalled, the reoccured at the same time becomes/is the experience, the nowness circumspect to a contingent separation with the past it encapsulates. This may be known as the uncanny in the semblance of physical sensation but also in the recalled apparition of memory as a functioning structure of language enabling the image as something seen in the world, at once and always both past and present. 

Memory provides a physicality to language in that it tenders on the experience but fundamentally is the concoction of word over what is seen and felt. There lays a further figuration of cognition that rests with the photograph and the photographed which implicitly marks the image as the one taken and experienced by an individual. If we return to our example, the photograph, I act here as the photographer and viewer of the said image. Its physical manifestation acts directly to me recalling as it were the particular state and time as I then felt it. What builds up is a mental gestation of the physical valence of that sunny evening, surrounded by contrary emotions and apprehensions. This historical I is felt through the inscription of the photograph as a presence. An I projected from the present but of the past, where the pictorial apparition acts as locus of cognition. My own entwining personal histories then and now experienced as a radical form of the present as if the past becomes its future state in the same instance. Language here becomes more than a structure but the adumbration between the seen and felt and its subscription into memory. 

At this point I and we are a symbiotic form contrary to a myth of instances and historical contexts. Something comes of, who is both prior and now the 'I', constituted in language as if rendered on an elliptical, moebius like surface shifting in time. Painting provides an example to this constitution and use of imagery that is transmutable and pliable as a form, that however presents another type of captured reality in its history, image, process and material sense. It would be acute to provide many examples of genre and style but the notions of a pluralistic world, of material consequence, of that fathomless reach of the political and corporeal in the spectre of the individual are peculiar presentiment in the modern. What does that say of our analysis and our purported demiotic demonstration of language? That the evolution of experience has changed? That somehow our consciousness has shifted? What is certain is experience, debated here through knowledge and the consequence of knowledge is the cognition of our corporeal and atrophied bodies. Mass education, the dissemination of knowledge through technology and media has transformed the physical world. How that persistence considers our own consciousness, its traviel to future presents is always through the rhetoric and tautological caprice of language itself.  

Miro provides us with an example of a painter that grapples with this political self as a means of expression and painterly gestation. His works provide a series of motifs that apply directly to the act of the painting in colour shape and form but also to histories and landscapes that all the while resemble a kind of idiosyncratic cartography where ladders and geometries weave through flaccid and bloated protrusions, hats and ephemera. What Miro's work contains is a figuration, a universe according to the mark of an artist, his history, his identity but not a floating void detached in the mind of an inscrutable pose and hermetic jargon of art and its abstractions but a grounded firmament balanced between men and the world. This is more clearly seen in his early works in which he paints the land and places that surround him in the towns and farms of Catalonia. These early paintings transform from their expressionist roots into something other in a rapid course of a few years. This furtive period of Miro's seems to be set between a sentiment that he clearly feels but one against or unsure of it's certainty in the apparent clarity being in the world and a wider significance of things, asitwere of the world

If we take at look at one of his last conventional farmyard landscapes The Farm 1922 we begin to see a language that entwines artist and the world. In it we see a wall of farmhouse situated to the left of the picture where an opening shows a stable and horse, a barn and pen are situated to the right both stocked with other animals and apparatus. A large eucalyptus tree rises from the central foreground, surrounded by the instruments and processes of the working farm, fanning out into the dusky blue firmament with an opaque moon quietly laying to its right. The painting serves to compose a scene which is a much a systematic diagram of a working farm than as a capturing of an image in nature. This pictorial and symbolic equivalence works to sustain itself as an image as well as to reveal the balance and checks that are invested by man and by nature. Art speaks of the world as the world in the formalism of pictorial representation and technological abstraction but also to commune between the picture and the land as a space shared, worked, consumed, worshiped even. This synthetic equilibrium becomes the defined space in which the artist transpires the now and the being between men and individuals as a mutuality of pertained corporeality. This is ideological art in search for its efficacy in modernity as a political act that enables the I , the we to be articulated as a mythic space in which the painting lays in accordance to the real. Where the image transfigures the geography, the body, the experiential as a transaction between artist and audience through the shared events and processes, which are both depicted, worked, apprehended even in the surface culmination of symbol and allegory. 

Miro conspires to paint the trajectory of men as political animals that articulate the ideological through a shared significance in mythic structures. In preceding works (such as Head of a Catalan Peasant1925) the ephemera of Catalonian hats, points, ladder like structures mix with the landscape pictorial devices of colour and form that were the mark of his previous pantings build a geography and a figuration which is as much a symbolic avatar appropriate to the shared histories of the many than the mere situation of the artist. But the presence he portrays is the conflation of history and myth in the modern articulation of equivalence and radical form that intonates both the process and progress as the occupation of becoming in the mind of men. His paintings become elliptical variances of past and future where all the while the artist acts in the determinate now in poetic infiltration in the antecedences of language, symbol and allegory. The artist in Miro's case is the individual in creative assertion, in the malleability of language that empowers the present in its very act. Miro acts also as the Unfolder of the sacred, the bearer of means which art is the vessel of material and superstructure coordination. Painting here becomes its own form of sacrificial artifice quite apart from its sense as an elucidating reliquary of the physical world. But what modernism asserts in its cause is the manifestation of worldly apparitions is the circumspect view of individuals in language. It allows the fragmentary and geometry equations of the particular to be the apparatus that electrifies the body as a thinking machine in time and place. Where the patterns of language and the fabric of the visual world become instances of the same experience that separates and binds each and every one.