Avi YairUntitled (2017)

These are enormously eye catching for a number of different reasons–the dynamism of the design elements (each of these four is exceedingly graphically astute in it’s use of line, shape and form–I especially like the way that the collage interventions are structured in order to convey the work has been stripped away to reveal an underlying image; that to me renders these less collage than sculptural excavation).

There’s also a lot of notions of representing three dimensions in two–but in a way that is fundamentally between two and three dimensions.

The inclusion of maps is especially poignant beings as maps are inherently problematic. There’s the simple fact that Euclidian geometry breaks down when you move away from the 2D into the 3D, for example an equilateral triangle inscribed on the surface of a sphere does not form a closed triangle, it’s just three different lines that share a connection to each other but do not form a contained shape.

Historically, this has caused all kinds of misunderstandings. The maps with which most of us are familiar preference the northern hemisphere and western hemisphere (for example Brazil is roughly the same size as the Lower 48 but looking at a typical map, you’d not easily grasp that; also, the US and Europe are presented in relationship to each other and then secondly the rest of the world is added in in relation to them.

Maps also delineate boundaries between geopolitical nation-states, boundaries between water and land, etc. Thus, it feels like the presence of naked bodies speaks to questions of boundaries as far as what is appropriate, what isn’t, what is celebratory, empowering and natural vs. sexualized or otherwise libidinous.

If that were all these did, I feel that would be interesting but not necessarily conceptually ambitious enough. The thing that appeals to me is that the interplay between maps and bodies begs questions of the discrepancies between accurately representing three dimensions in two and referential utility. (In a lot of my current grad school research practice: I keep coming back to BorgesOn Exactitude in Science postulates a kingdom so obsessed with its own accurate mapping that a map is commissioned that ends up being the same size as the terrain it purports to map. In the end, it ends up rolled up and rotting in the desert.

Or, to put it another way (if you are–like me–of a decidedly Wittgenstein-ian bent: explanations come to an end somewhere.

Carlos SaezHuman Appearance Optional (2017)

By way of explanation, Saez posits this piece as “a multiprocess collage inspired by morphological freedom and group sex.”

My first thought was that it was hentai adjacent–it’s hard to see tentacles in any sort of sexually charged context without immediately going there.

I didn’t pick up on the graphic depictions of sexual intercourse; the is-it-a-glazed-ceramic sculpture-or-2D-painting aesthetic makes the viscous fluid like masses look like a swirled mass of organs or perhaps organs modeled from oobleck.

What finally clued me in to the sexually explicit aspects was the rebar/vaccuum hose penetration in the third image from the top. From there on it’s a treat to follow the whorls, swirls and plasticine florishes. To see things as sexual, visceral (in the sense of viserca), effluvial discharge and then as piece of a collage. (For example: the abs in the final image are not the same as but remind me of the cover for Chuck Palaniuk’s novel Choke.)

The fluidity of these constructions resonates with a project I’m in the preliminary phases of researching. However, the more I look at it the more I’m realizing two things:

I’m really into psychedelia. I love psychedelics and am even more fond of music made to be more fully experienced in altered states. But psychedelic visual art leaves quite a bit to be desired. The fractals and DMT inspired spirit realms are interesting. Someone like Alex Grey has a fantastic sense of design and visual flow–but it all leaves me feeling like I’ve lived on nothing but Oreos and Mt. Dew for several days. It’s mostly eye candy with little if any sustenance. (If I wanna stare at fractals, I’ll jump down into an Islamic art K-hole.)

But what I realized about the above image is that in so far as it appears sculptural it actually has a fair degree of overlap with Rococo sculpture, actually. It’s partly the way Rococo was primarily decorative in nature, favored a pastel palette and emphasized serpentine lines and asymmetrical compositions. (And that strikes me as a shortcoming of most psychedelic visual art because there is a focus on symmetry as a means of parsing the load universe into cannon, aim at brain, pull trigger reality of the experience of getting really fucking high. In the process of writing this I’ve been looking at a bunch of rococo art and I think it’s actually more in line with the way I experience ‘visionary’ states.

Akuma Aizawaexplanation (2014)

Truthfully, I know fuck all about collage as a form–thus I won’t be able to address this as directly as a photography.

What does interest me about this (besides getting the giddy feeling in my tummy that always accompanies finding work that resonates with me), is the conceptual praxis.

The text reads:

This is to my absurd trying/of intending anything/AT ALL Example:/I’ll try to remember the/sensation of imagining you/missing/me

I’m not sure quite how the text interacts with the image yet–although I do think the example is the image and not that statement beneath the image.

I am more comfortable with the text, so let’s stick with that for a minute. The first block of text mentions the absurdity of trying to intend anything at all.

It reminds me of that famous line Yoda utters in The Empire Strikes Back. Luke Skywalker is trying to use the force to life his X-Wing out of a swamp on Dagoba. It seems like he’s making progress and then the vehicle sinks back. Yoda chides him and Luke whines that he’s trying as hard as he can. Yoda snaps back: do or do not; there is no try.

It’s a very Zen sentiment. Essentially, what Yoda means is doing the thing, you either do or do not do it. But by trying to do something the effort of your action is focused not singularly on the doing of it but on the trying to do it–the question of whether or not it can even be done.

The distinct Yoda is pointing toward is the same thing Wittgenstein is getting at in his Philosophical Investigations–only Wittgenstein is concerned with how language means instead of lifting a vehicle out of mire with nothing more than the power of the mind.

Essentially, Wittgenstein says hey, as long as your talking–language isn’t at all difficult for you. You just talk. It’s when you start thinking about how you language works, that you begin to run into problems. Because instead of doing, one begins to think about how one does what one does and that’s where trouble creeps in at the seams.

The philosophy of language questions how words mean. And that question is already off on quite the wrong foot. Wittgenstein proceeds systematically to poke holes in the notion that words mean via some sort of mental process as opposed to meaning as use in context.

The last stand of the person intent on language being a mental process clings to the notion of the possibility of a private language.

In order to demonstrate what this would be like, Wittgenstein conceives the staggeringly brilliant metaphor of The Beetle in the Box.

Say there’s a group of people somewhere and everyone of these people has a box and in that box is what is called a ‘beetle’. There’s a catch: no one can look in anyone else’s box. So there’s no way for anyone to check what anyone else’s beetle looks like. This begs the question does Jethro have an ant in his box while Marieanne has a mosquito, or perhaps her box is empty. Thus ‘beetle’ can only mean nothing or what the group agrees it means independent of whatever is or isn’t in their respective boxes.

(As an aside bad artist, racists and mansplainers are always whining about how they didn’t mean it that way, their intent was different. But that’s the thing, it doesn’t matter how you meant it, there’s a generally agreed upon external context and whether or not you meant it that way, that’s how it functions in the external context. Do or do not; there is no try.)

So what I dig about this is the way the top text cancels itself in a similar fashion to the way the bottom text does the same thing. In the top portion the speaker is trying to intend which is decidedly not doing or meaning–thus, I would assume the absurdity of the undertaking. In the lower portion, there’s again a trying–in this case a trying to imagine the sensation of you missing me. Trying imagine the feeling of something that will never happen.

There’s something profoundly lonely about this but in an unusual and I would argue defiantly feminist way. I feel like this is supposed to look like it’s about a relationship. But I think this is also on a meta-level about the relationship between an artist and their art as well as the relationship between women and the art historical male gaze.

Jessica SlagleThis world we live in (2016)

Physical things are eloquent tokens of ideas,enriched by new meanings
through time even when the tokens are no more than evanescent paper

Mary Catherine Bateson Peripheral Visions: Learning Along the Way

***A note: I’m reblogging this from @lisakimberly. Seriously, if you aren’t following her already, go forth and do not pass go, do not collect $200, follow her immediately. Her curation has been KILLING IT.



Source: as best as I can tell these six images were likely gathered and arranged by fulme. (The top-center image seems to predate this assemblage.)

In theory, I am a proponent of bricolage.

However, if you are working digitally, there is very little that isn’t at hand for you to use. To me this muddies the already precarious distinction between ‘formal’ collage and MacGyver free association.

I don’t know how to illustrate it except to point to another image that was making the Tumblr rounds back in early October. It’s a really solid idea but the execution is lame brained–half a grapefruit on a white background super-imposed over what looks like the legs of a model wearing a white one-piece American Apparel swimsuit.

On the other hand, the six images above were carefully selected. The similarity in tonal range and luminosity is striking. Further, the arrangement serves to activate the images in different ways, promoting interplay, building and relieving tension by means of line, color, echoing of shape, conceptual mirror, etc.

Highly astute work deserving of recognition.