While browsing the library shelves I was distracted by a tiny volume squeezed in amongst the books on aesthetics. A chance movement, an act on impulse and there i find An agent of the Estate by my teacher SK. I take it back to my seat and start to read it despite my vow of discipline. I don’t allow myself to go too far in, Berger and Benjamin are calling me. I read enough to be drawn in though, down its tiny, maze-like corridors.
(In my father’s house there are many mansions)
Maybe S will sell me a copy…
Perhaps in searching for a redemptive enchantment I was wrong. I discovered why it is probably un-redeemable.. the surrealists used the Marvelous, yet Hal Foster is able to explain these tendencies to repeat and admire the unexplainable as unconscious desires to recall. These are anxieties that relate to the past not the future. This explains de Chiricos ‘presentiment’ that i was so fixated upon. It explains, in some ways the artistic process, or maybe just my relationship to it. Like an anthropologist I dont believe in magic (not really), but i am fascinated by those who do. I want to believe. I enjoy the feeling of fantasy, of marvelling at the unknown. Perhaps this is where I should look?
There is an exhibition in Sheffield called ‘Instinct’. I should have gone to the opening because a friend of mine is in it. Instead I stayed in and read ‘Why look at Animals?’ by John Berger. (Professional jealousy) Animals are still evolving (note to page 15).
It is decided… with no retractions… the text ‘piece’ will be based on INSTINCT as a starting point. It relates to the accompanying images in two ways, first in its relationship to animals and, more importantly, its relationship to the making process.
I’ll make references to John Berger’s ‘Why look at Animals?’ and Mary Midgley’s ‘Beast and Man’. also possibly Magic, Marcel Mauss, and of course Surrealism- Objective Chance- Don’t forget De Chirico ‘Presentiment’.
1,000 words. It should be useful for my research project. Relationship between man and nature. Marx- dialectical.
What is the purpose of a supplementary text? Who is it for? What does it add that isnt there already? What do you need to know?
I made these images a year ago. By looking at them now and writing the thoughts I have about them down I guess I’m adding hindsight. I was originally going to go right back to the point of creation and re-create the dialogue that took place within myself as I made the drawings, describe the ‘conflict born out of contingency and control’, but that would be unfair. Its not that it would de-mystify the creative process, I don’t mind doing that, I just don’t think its fair to spoil your experience of looking and thinking for yourself. Its also a bit boring.
I worry about giving too much information, and yet, what can i write about these drawings that doesn’t inform or influence in some way?
The pages were torn from a colouring-in book. Its good to see them all layed out and to play with the ordering. It still seems right to present them back in book form, as illustrations for a story perhaps..
childhood play fantasy natural world fake forgery manipulation illusion line form block space plane surface game abstraction real(ity) original mass produced fill in between the lines – colour in. Choose your own adventure.
Sit down and write for 30 mins. No stopping, editing or correcting.
The fact is, an adult sat down with a child’s colouring in book. Why- i can’t imagine you are too different… why would you do it? Are you nostalgic?
What are colouring books for? Colouring in between pre-drawn lines. the difficult part is done, the decisions have been made. it is a distraction, an activity. We don’t learn anything new about the subject matter presented, we are only close to it for a while. We can think about those lions a little bit but the contact is really with the page, the pen, the lines and the empty spaces. We explore the contours of knowledge.. turn the page and you are presented with a new scene, a new set of problems. I prefer it to turning to a blank page. the clean slate is an alien concept, we all come with a set of images printed on.
Look and write-reflect. Afterwords… like T.J. Clarke on Poussin.
Do any of the animals in these drawings look back at the viewer?
Yes. Show the Paradise image last. Also- the two composer Obituaries. Print text…the images are slightly bigger than A4…
‘As a possibility and thus perhaps a necessary commitment’, Benjamin said this of Zionism in 1913- I might say it of him.
Estrangement from tradition.
(baroque? Look this up)
Truth concerned a secret and that the revelation of this secret had authority- Not an unveiling…a…
Alethia- visually perceptible to the eyes of the mind and comprehended to us as ‘un-concealment’. Alethea was my grandmother’s name.
I opened up an old copy of frieze magazine recently and flicked through. It was issue 112, Jan-Feb 2008. On page 15 was a new years quiz. This was question 4..
4) 2008 will be about:
a) Walter Benjamin
b) Floella Benjamin
c) Pope Benjamin II of Alexandria
d) Binyamin Netanyahu.
In the cubicle to my left is a student. He is making, or rather, copying notes onto a small whiteboard using a green board pen. He writes, then reads, then wipes the writing off the board. The green ink is turned into tiny particles, a kind of sticky dust, that cover the piece of paper he is using to wipe, and flake around the edges of the board. The ink is transformed into words then back into matter while the words transform into memory.
On the 16th of November last year I sat in the Library with Illuminations, the collection of Walter Benjamin essays.
It took me almost two hours to get half way through Hannah Arandt’s introduction.
This first reading is initiatory. I read, I noticed, i made notes, copied out whole chunks, but very little commentary or analysis followed. It is a dull, though I suppose, normal starting point. When you meet someone for the first time sometimes you notice without judging, so keen are you to find what you are looking for in them.
The most interesting thing that I wrote in my notebook was..
While in the library. In the cubicle to my left is a student. He is making notes-copying notes onto a small whiteboard using a green board pen. He writes, then reads, then wipes the writing off the board. the green ink is turned into tiny particles that cover the paper he wipes with and flake around the edges of the board. The ink into words into matter-and into memory.