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POETRYETC  January 2010

POETRYETC January 2010

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Subject:

Image and text

From:

Chris Jones <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Poetryetc: poetry and poetics

Date:

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 17:33:55 +1100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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I promised Judy bc I would write some notes on working with more then
one media at the same time for a single art project. I had to think
about it first, because it is a bit like trying to summarise some five
years training in writing and media arts.

We can begin with space and the new ideas of space that emerged during
20th century modernism in the arts. Space was perhaps the great theme of
this century.

First, the old idea of space we see in Kant and which goes back to
Aristotle, is that of space as being extensive and quantitative. This is
a space that exists a-priori and can be divided infinitely without
changing in quality and can be drawn as a grid which extends to infinity
or if divided remains constant and does not change size after being
divided. You can walk away from this space and come back to it and it
will remain the same or constant. This is the metric space of Newton's
Law; F=ma.

The new idea of space understands space as something that grows or
diminishes along with matter and if there is no matter there can be no
space. So space is created along with matter in time. This is a dynamic
and fluid space.

The older idea of metric space is still needed to design buildings,
build bridges and high ways and so forth but this metric space is a
division of blip functions which separate one bit of space from the
other and as such complies with the classical law of the excluded
middle. 

The new idea of space does not have these infinitely small blips that
divide space into metric units but is continuous and fluid space which
is constantly being made and unmade and breaks the law of the excluded
middle. It could be said this sort of space is always happening in the
middle and takes on a more qualitative aspect. (Although not strictly
purely qualitative the idea of a qualitative space gives a sense or
feeling of what this space is like as a perhaps qualitative growth in
extension.)

When it comes to art, matter is the media used to make art space with
this sort of fluid constantly flowing, growing bigger and growing
smaller, often at the same time in many and various ways. It is also a
space that has to be made with art media or matter. It does not exist
before or a priori. Basically this is modernist space, at least in
summary.

Every time this modern idea of space is divided it changes in quality
and this is important to understand since an intuitive feeling for the
way this space changes needs to be cultivated or learnt, usually through
practice (as well as being lucky enough to have skilled teachers, in my
case.) It is also a space that cannot be logically indexed since it more
or less throws attempts at index off, always being in the middle.

This modern space is what Deleuze calls virtual space or smooth space
and not to be confused with computer networks and virtual or cyberspace.
Cyberspace is a projected metric (Kantian) space or in D&G terms
striated space which is the space of metric extension. This is
important, since computer functions such as interactivity, feedback and
cyberspace which are Kantian metric space, as I have read more then once
become confused with the fluid modern notion of space. (A computer is a
Kantian mechanism. It uses metric space. It is not virtual space in
Deleuze's terminology nor is it a modern fluid idea of space. Hence,
computers are an older more archaic technology.)

The modern fluid dynamic unfolding into extension and folding into
itself and diminishing space happens in time. Understanding time here in
the way Henri Bergson and William James understand duration as that
which is always changing so the present is also a fold of the past and
of the future without being divided into discrete units. The past,
future and present all happen together and at the same time so the
present can be both future and past and the future can change the past
as the present makes the past and opens onto the future. This makes or
creates difference, since difference cannot be given a priori. 

Once we have this basic idea of space then we can see that working with
two different media, say spoken text and video images, means that the
image and the sound track or spoken text are separate from each other
and what draws them together are resonating series which are the
composition of two or more rhythms, the sound rhythms and the visual
rhythms, for image and text.

So the most basic is first to give each media, sound and image, its own
space which it creates itself as difference. Let them create their
differences, so to speak. Let them have their own rhythms which like
modern jazz cross over each other and make unpredictable improvised
resonating series.

Second, don't attempt to make the image the cause of the text or spoken
words or the other way round. Let both media have their time and space.
So don't attempt to simply illustrate with an image what the words say
or again the other way round.

Anyway, that is the basic idea, hopefully abstract enough not to be a
set of formal rules but a general way of working which can be shaped to
particular media and projects. The other problem is that in our
saturated media world there appears no free or open space from which we
may proceed. For this I use an abstract idea of absolute deviation,
absolute meaning without relation, and so abstract it cannot be
abstracted any further. This is like a little lever that can insert
itself in between the saturated media environment we live in and proceed
to open up a space for the art works to emerge. 

anyways, better stop here before I write a whole book, Chris Jones.

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