The concern for where one might find art and how it comes to saturate our lives is ultimately a reflection of our sympathy for the artist’s concern with inclusion and exclusion, the actual and the virtual. We are enamored by the tactics that the artist has invented in order to engage the line between visibility and invisibility. Art brings cunning, deceit, and illusion into the city while at the same time retaining the unity of the good and the beautiful. It occupies a separate space than that of either work or science. Falling under an alleged fiction, there is no factual knowledge to be found in art. It is a region that is to be treated with pessimism and yet equally capable of engaging episteme, doxa, and verisimilitude as a passage between medium and form.
Astonishment plays as forms arise through the various media that bring art into visibility, setting up an opposition between before and after the art that comes to provoke judgment of taste and judgment of whether the work is commensurate with our world. This opposition is staged by the various media that come to exist in the service of art and ultimately can be understood to exist at discrete points around the city. We are able to ask the location of drawing, painting, sculpture, perspective, and photography in the city in order to understand the pivotal points at which such judgment occurs so that we might pass beyond an understanding relying on a system of framing as either a mimetic or systemic act and to one that allows the medium itself to be understood as a frame or parameter that allows us to see the broader world rather than merely allowing us further understanding into how the system of art operates as a derivation of some higher essence of man. In particular, such understanding allows us insight into the ceremonies of art that dictate our existence from how we plan our gardens and design our buildings, to the structuration of the city and the existence of theater, performances, histories, and poetic texts.
Why do we concern ourselves with art? Why do we take time from a busy day to attend an opening or peruse a gallery? I would like to argue that it allows us to collectively hover in a state that is suspended between the universal and the individual. The reduction of opacity that is provided here was first suggested in the manner in which Romanticism dissolved the ontological reference of the distinction between fiction and reality through the duplication of worldly affairs in a swath between fiction and reality. In this moment, communication fails. We are left standing in a state of vulnerability, not knowing in what direction to turn.
Our only recourse is to dialogue with a fellow art-lover, notes on a postcard of a work that we will send home, or a notebook that might come to grow as a form of criticism. The first is the most dubious possibility while the latter provides safety in the inability of text to deny its communicative intent. Within the confines of the page, one might point to the self-generated mystery that one experiences and to the negation of the fictional possibilities that might become real had the work been present as something other than a concrete reality in the city. It is in this present-ness of art and its struggle with its virtual existence in judgment and representation that we come to understand the problematic that accompanies any interrogation into the work of a contemporary artist. As soon as one attempts to fix the moment of passage between the actual and the virtual, it becomes apparent that it has shifted.
The slippage that accompanies any interrogation of the work of art extends beyond the interaction that one has with a work face-to-face when we attempt to understand how an understanding of art in a person or group grows through reflection that occurs after leaving a gallery and through the various representations of their initial experience that they might come into contact with. These experiences come to replay the initial present-ness of the work in a virtual realm where the possibility of fiction is further negated, albeit in an active process that allows certain mythologies to become traces in an understanding of the work as a series of negative definitions. The understanding that comes from increasing distance to the work as measured in both space and time, comes to be coupled with the initial valuation of the work as entirely bound in the surface of the artifact as a trace of the power invested by the artist.
This is often the case when work is no longer shown to the public as a result of either remaining stored in the possession of the gallerist or as a result of having been purchased by a patron. In such a case, we come to rely on knowledge at a distance. Such theoretical knowledge extends the interrogation to which art might fall from the doors of the museum into the gallery, the studio, the home, the marketplace and all aspects of the city as an integration of knowledge over distance and time. As such, we understand art to be present almost “everywhere” not, however, as an ether or latency in all that we do, but as a potentiality of a possible content of existence whose presence one risks in the activities in which one engages.
Such a challenge to the normative understanding of art comes as a response to the challenge that we are faced with as we probe the question further and come to take into account the criticism that has been directed at museums in order to point to a hermetic and antiquated approach that has dominated their activities in recent years and, at the same time, it is to acknowledge the tremendous support that they have given to the community. This criticism is radicalized in an underlying claim that the era in which our civilization creates art has come to an end and, as a result, we have no need to continue the museological practice beyond merely maintaining them as mausoleums.
The path by which I would like to lead the reader away from such narrow vision is first by pointing to the persistence of creation and second by suggesting that this creation defines an alternate history to art that relies on difference rather than on unity. With this understanding, we are given a choice as to whether we would like to investigate an oscillation between systems of art based on integrity and those based on difference in an attempt to find the tools that are needed to locate oneself within the process and effect a change commensurate with the general flow. Rather than engaging in an integration or differentiation, we might chose to work with the system as a whole, the unity of integration and difference, in order to reduce the opacity of the system rather than continuing within the situation, having faith that we will eventually achieve enlightenment through fidelity to an event.
Lingering, however, with the persistence of the museum, our mind beginning to open to the possibility of something greater for art, we test arrangements that are fictional and real in order to show society how things might be done differently. The museums of New York evolved in harmony and distinction with a very limited group of galleries and collectors who for many years defined the totality of the market. Geographic distinctions were essential in the evolution of the scene, particular difference being concentrated between the galleries on 57th Street and the rebellious residents of the Village who were organized around Henri, Sloan, and a number of increasingly prominent urban realists. The geographic distinctions continued with the innovations that occurred in Harlem and ultimately culminated in the post World War II era with the differentiation of the downtown community in different stylistic enclaves as a result of various sources of investment from the firmly established museums who supported their respective canons, private collectors who supported private taste, and the government who used art as an economic instrument. New forms of differentiation constantly undermined former reference points.
As the process that supported the great bursts of creativity in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s continued, the pivotal New York museums continued to grow increasingly strong. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, each the product of support from families who had an acute interest in property, continued to consolidate their holdings in an alliance between personal property and cultural support. This was particularly true of Whitney who supported much of the Village from her town house near Washington Square Park as she slowly combined several homes, each variation being pushed to capacity as the museum grew towards the institutional entity that it would ultimately become.
For a museum to become institutionalized beyond its roots, it must call upon a building to stand out from the standard order of things. It must become a locus that stands outside of the normal flow of the world. As such, the museum presents a new theory of position for both the viewer and the viewed. The tools used to accomplish this task are found in white walls, swaths of light, miraculous appearance, negation or positing of structure, and textural play. Together, they suggest that museums have come to trace the language operating in art. The manner in which the museum is further constituted by some method of vision, allows us to see past the generality of the museum and to all of the parts that go into making it up: the rooms, halls, choices, pieces, lights, colors, floors, curators, elevators, gift-shops, boards, fundraisers, and critics. Without passing to other realms of the city where one might find art, we can begin to glimpse how a real territorial interest can orient us to the terms used to describe the condition as a whole by asking how it is that such a realm is given authority to stand outside of the normal flow and what body exists to maintains this sovereignty.
After seeing a hierarchy of the museum and where the work of art stands with respect to this structuration of the experience of art, it is not sufficient to ask where the works are in the hierarchy, but instead we must ask how they got there to begin with and how they were made even prior to that, soon offering each vantage point the chance to reveal their entire frame of reference as a confession to the system. Imagine taking different systems of thought and using them to see each work in a museum. Not only would one arrive at a map extending from within the interior to every corner of civilization, but one would also be given a number of extra dimensions that are revealed by the topography of the system itself. If the system of interpretation can be proved to have a pre-existent relation to the object of art that this system sees, then a further level of information is present at the site of seeing the art. Here we see a tension grow between the museum as a sealed entity that is reliant on its totality as unique architecture and as the horizon of a possible interpretation and transcendent meaning.
The territories passed on the way from museum into the world cannot be neglected by the intrigue of how the passage itself occurs. One must consider access to realms of judging in the act of initial creation and subsequent creation as the initial act is mirrored in the various judgments that are made over the course of the art’s “work.” Such an operation ultimately leads to the basis of language through discourse and the way that we have developed as humans up to the present. As a result, it is in judgment that we access the deepest level of human thought and emotion. Secondly, we must take note of how art passes from the museum via publications and catalogues and via various media that incorporate it by having seen it in the past and remembered it as a motif or motivation in a new work or advertisement. Thirdly we must understand how art passes via the monetization of art that imposes a mythological vale and mystery over it through the extraordinary number that is attached and by the possibility that this number presents to the museum in the expansions and educational outreach that it allows for. This vale can be seen in the connection of the entity to an economy, allowing it to play a role in a broader realm through its exceptional status and giving it a role in rites and rituals.
Together, these extensions create the horizon for future work by defining how art at present is networked to the city. This conceptualization neglects past manifestations such as the primal relationship between man and wall, group and building, patron and two or three dimensional narrative scene supporting the power of the patron, emperor and realm or city as the absolute conceptualized of the emperor in the moment, king and castle, chamber, or miniature, pope and the church extending into the world, and citizen and house. Instead, the present model is defined by a relationship between decapitated authority and museum as an illusory integration. Within this complex realm, art is found in a state of operation that forms the stage on which a new work might come into existence. Through the understanding that so many interactions of the relationship between society and art have afforded us, the artist is given the authority to begin to probe the relationship and reveal its strengths and deficiencies.
What system governs this movement? Without understanding such a system, we would fail to find the limits that take control of art, allowing it to be institutionalized in a number of media and ultimately in the museum itself. The manner by which the norms of culture are extended into the museum would remain sealed behind an opaque system. In order to actualize the possibilities implicit in such an understanding, we are required to pass beyond correlating closed sets of art to isolated points in the city and instead find the axioms that are present in each and that might bear similarities across the general field of study. By doing so, we might begin to find a series of parameters that allow us to gain sufficient distance from the work so that we are afforded the opportunity to understand the work while sill holding a relatively proximate position to its creation.
If art is to be constituted as independent of the museum and the canon that it supports, we must find a number of parameters that set it apart and define how it will function, where it will be situated, and at what time it will operate. In particular, art must stake a claim on the condition against which it will set itself. We must discover its backdrop in order to understand a media that is other than the museum and yet also free from reversion to other contexts of historic relationships between patronage and art. In order to do this, we look towards language, history, pure thought, the page, light, earth, the diagram, pure authority, negativity, vanishing, erasure, distorted materiality, un-functioning architecture, and the city as a concept beyond a summation of sculptural points, of moments of inspiration carved from a chaotic whole, and instead as an entity that might itself come to serve as the medium that both defines the museum as medium and provides a path beyond its constraints. Each term that seeks to understand art as other than at present, is ultimately a differentiation of the very possibility of occupying an “other” medium than the classical one through which the image and art have operated. With each we are able to understand a lineage that places limits on what we might conceive of as art, ultimately threatening to orient our investigation to the decapitation of the Plato-Christian order by the dialectic falling between G.W.F. Hegel and Karl Marx. With each term, we attempt to turn away from such inevitability as we seek to drive the media that might support art past the abyss that opens around representation in the West.
It is convenient to pause in order to reflect on a crisis that I assume exists, but have yet to fully disclose. The museum has taken over more art than it can handle and, as a result of the inflexibility of its own parameters and the way in which it has coupled art objects to dollars, cannot posit future expansion that rests on terms other than those of capitalist property structures that are inherently anathema to the direction that art has taken both before and after World War II. This is nowhere more evident than in the writers’ and artists’ leagues that dominated the city and the left leaning politics that, during the trials that arose under the threat of the perversion of communism in Soviet Russia, was forced to disappear behind the safety of the canvas, into a realm where no lawyer or politician might be able to prove detrimental affiliation. Such a retreat, however, does not imply a disappearance. Willingness to draw funding from capitalist does not constitute an admission of victory. It is a matter of survival. As we approach a new era, we are given the chance to ask the question of whether we want art to merely survive or whether it might once again thrive.
When art leaves the wall of the bourgeois home or the partition of the museum, it is threatened with becoming lost in the hectic fray of the day-to-day. Confronted with the realities of a utilitarian economy, it risks being buried by sight, language, and ultimately politics. We have seen such reactionary negativity at work as art attempts to colonize graffiti, the public performance, networks or individuals, and the earth in general as medium in which art might be supported. Each transition of art to a new media other than that on which the museum rested and drew authority, traces a path from the museum in an attempt to inscribe itself on the new substrate. In this flight from the museum, a new vocabulary of positivity and negativity is born through the parameters that are set on art and its media along with the work that is done to reframe past discourses and relationships of creation and patronage.
This language allows us to see incommensurability between a center of art in a museum and the manifestation of art as independent in the city. When such a situation comes to arise, art operates in a lag. The question arises of whether the taste exhibited in the center should hold for all territory. This ultimately creates room for the variability and mutability of the field of art that infects the confidence required to value art. Art becomes subject to doubt and uncertainty. Faced with this doubt, alternative strategies are tested and fragmentation of how a work is presented and received occurs. Art thus is no longer centered around the lives of a handful of great artists and their clear representation on the walls of great churches and palaces that pass from one generation to the next, but is constituted by a number of competing circles that support mythologies of various artists, often unbeknownst to each and always in latent competition.
The parameters of this incommensurability are largely centered on the surface’s inability to fully contain the changes brought to the world by the acceleration of technology. The surface is a substrate that might be brought into a mimetic relationship with the world at large and, as a result, might risk the creation of its own world. The challenge to the surface is supported by a technology that is changing the surface at the same time, creating two shifting fields moving ambiguously against each other. This process is held together as a structured idea through the interaction of art, localized media, territory, and path to form a unique set of parameters that extend from the virtual idea as real forces in the world. As a single parameter – the Idea, its representation as Image, and materialization as Force – they are an entity defining the unity of a given surface of a given work of art.
Because we know that this Image that allows for the work of art to be exchanged within a broader economy is made of various parameters and that these parameters – duration of time spent with the canvas, availability of certain materials, cost of rent for a studio, relationship to other artists, interaction with collectors, dexterity of the artist’s body, afflictions that the artist lives with, etc… – extend independently as forces in the world, we ought to see past a definition of art that requires it to become whole before it can be evaluated – the theological, teleological, tautological, or ontological – and to every work of art defined by the relation of forces. Through this process, work in art is liberated from localization in a given cannon and allowed to exist in suspension and in proximity to other parameters that one might not expect when seen from inside the haze of the center.
Work is liberated from the opacity that seals it behind layers of paint and allowed to be seen independently so that we might test one example against another in hopes of determining the axioms that govern the operation of work in art. Each further understanding grows from a local opposition between two examples of art-work and thus as we attempts to see through to a generalization, we are met with a set of something like polar coordinates that together point to an axiom of art and form the closest thing to a territory of the problematic. Rather than becoming engaged in dissecting the illusion of a unified entity, we witnesses a birth to presence between a minimum of two extremes and hopefully as many as possible. These extremes or bits of evidence are gathered as a trace. They don’t have to be abstract, but can range all the way from the subject to the object – often as the intersection between the two. They are traced in the work of a given individual – caught in this moment or that one. Utilizing multiple parametric variables to understand the value of the work of art allows us to summarize the difference between the variables themselves rather than summarizes the variables individually. The results is that value is not constructed on the same terms as the limits – often derived from authority – that defined the creation of a work, but at a higher level or representation that is akin to what we experience through the surface of art itself. By doing so, the work of art supports a discourse – beyond regimes of political and economic power – that provides continuity across time and a location for value to rest during the most perilous times.
The limitations that parameters provide clarify the field of vision and make it possible for one work to be more influential than another. In so doing, they suggest why media operates in different manners – engendering the trace of individual forms as a result. Parametric differentiation defines the basis of valuation both locally for the artist and globally as a monetary value attached to the work. The location of value with respect to difference has historically rested on how the artist differentiates nature first through an analytic that was perhaps exemplified in the dissections of da Vinci or the interrogation of how light interacts with spirit by Rembrandt and then through how this analytic is synthesized as a work of art through the technology that is available to the artist at the time. Such a process of differentiation is extended to encompass how the artist renders ornament, light, and form. Together they define the artist’s mastery of a given medium. Through this mastery, the extent to which an artist is able to maintain fidelity and sensitivity to a given epoch is defined and the possibility that they might render spirit is opened. Such an understanding is codified in a dialectical reading of the surface that allows for the co-presence of poetry that ultimately balances all of the differential forces in order to achieve unity.
The technological constraints placed on the preparation and construction of the field of vision, those placed on the realms of urban life into which the artist is allowed to look for inspiration, the geometric language by which impression takes form, and the critical language that arises during the period in which the work is judged and ultimately valued all contribute to differential analysis. Each parameter operates in its own language. The diversity operation leads us to understand that “unity” speaks more to the process of evaluation and assigning in different communities and less to supporting a system that unifies works within a hierarchy as true beyond variations in space and time. The system relies on difference in general. Rather than being oriented towards knowledge, it hinges on the notion of information and results in a correlation between the amounts of energy that was invested through difference in order to convey a finite amount of information. The rendering of value through information rather than knowledge can be seen at the scale of how an object is given form by atoms or pixels that have been assigned a quality within an overall organization defining resolution.
The extent to which an assigned value is taken as an indicator of worth in its own right defines the success of the situation. The goal is to justify the investment of one type of energy that, through information as medium or in mediation, leads to another sort of value worth more energy than to begin with. For such a system to exist, however, “that which differs” must be absolutely free or absolutely enslaved in a process of representation and rendering. For art, this is achieved by the work that draws together a field in its frame, claiming sovereignty over some elements and giving freedom to others. Energy is invested to mark these claims and impose an initial state of difference that is summarized when these attacks, some violent, are totaled in the creation of a new field that may provoke sufficient allegiance through adjudication to justify the investment that has been made. The method by which this process attains precision is reflected in the trace of information that is processed on its surface via the form of media that is left as deviation from its own cohesion marking its uniqueness.
The cumulative states of difference of each work are collectively revealed as “the medium that each work ultimately becomes.” This “medium” is other than the technological medium that allowed the work to be rendered visible for the first time. This other medium is spiritual or virtual and allows the work to interface with other virtual mediums such as money. As work searches for a system of classification that is reduced to difference in general, a medium is established that is able to “take” and “hold” the information that is constituted by the act of difference. Information begetting a medium that is suitable for its inscription does not necessarily imply that each form of information latent in art will create the same medium to carry it. The result leads us to the possibility that works might be separated and judged by the medium that they employ that is defined by a set of information composed over the duration of their existence through the audience that they call together to witness, the scale on which they operate, the forms that they employ, the system of vision that governs their existence, and how humans approach their limit.
Each source of information is similar to how we differentiate ourselves from one another. In the case of art, however, we understand this differentiation as a spectral play. The attributes of art cannot be observed as directly as the size of my hand versus yours or my diamond versus hers. They require a system that cannot be immediately derived from either the body or co-presence. They give birth to duration, time, and discourse in order to allow sufficient space for valuation. In light of this situation, the artist attempts to recede from the constraints of supplement and difference in an attempt to find a unity between art and the world. The artist is forced to once again provide a supplement in the explanations that he is forced to give to his work in an attempt to placate a culture that feels itself to have been disturbed by the challenge that it directs at the very foundation of time upon which it rests. These systems maintain various degrees of fidelity to the hand as they travel away from the center to ascertain the attributes of the art and begin to map them via a method of thought that runs in a series of loops, interrogating the work as it goes.
This process often culminates in wit that covers the vulnerability implicit in the openness to the surface of artwork, an awkward re-mark often sealing the fate of a sensual experience or “sense event.” This moment is a retro-action, a reversal that closes a loop by tying a knot. The internal process that culminates in the externalization of a witty remark is at heart one of extreme gravity and has often come to compel many to abandon the conventional economy of work so that they might be able to concentrate on the theoretical economy of work in hopes of understanding the process of valuation. The most extreme case of this subtraction can be found in the artist who devotes his or her life to the spectral economy. Through the recession into the abandoned building of our past and the cuts made in the earth in order to reveal our latent history that we so often cover over in favor of seeing a reality of convenience, these artists operates beyond the material order that is often accessible. The efforts of these artists often create an economy that can support other artists.
In order to support this economy, the “art world” create more and bigger events in which people can enjoy art through an evolved form of mediation that allows for a closer approximation of total suspension of rule and law and that gives a surface that is more sensitive to the possibility of an evolved mark – a smart-mark – that relies on a primal state of play where one is allowed to reconnect with existence as a child through continually reenacting birth and death through consumption. Instead of existing in a world where we might think we have control over our objects and where we deny the psychological landscape that drives our consumption, we provide access to the play of becoming and thus open a path that leads more directly between will and desire with the ultimate effect of avoiding the production of all the goods that would merely provide the illusion of pleasure. Such events require more people to make them and cost more money to participate in. In a free market, the agent chooses to devote a certain portion of their income to pay other people to create an exemption from the economy he or she works hard to maintain prior to the sense-event.
If we did not engage in such activity, there would be nothing to see or do with excess energy. This is mirrored by the possibility that the artist might buy an item that the non-artist makes. The advantage that the artist has stems from the fact that it costs a great deal to fabricate a car and very little to fabricate art. If a society agrees that they are interchangeable, the society can rapidly increase its value and worth due to the fact that it expresses a basic truth that supporting and caring for more humans in a sustainable fashion is better than not. For this system of balance to continue without becoming an illusion or trace of a mechanism suited to the past, our understanding of it must evolve to see that the economy of non-art can only evolve so far within the boundaries of sustainability whereas the work of art can continue to change almost infinitely as a result of the mutability of human vision and the plasticity of form. We must find new ways through which art and the general economy might be allied so that they support rather than rest on each other.
More and bigger events cannot be supported by a non-free-market system that denies individual agency. Without the differentiating possibility of millions of bits, the system cannot come to a definition of how value is correlated with media and form in a manner that summarizes the variability of humanity. The best result would be the creation of an illusory state based on variability or difference in general. Such a state would be attractive because it would quickly jump over a long period of germination and revel in ecstasy. The only state I can imagine that would not be strictly free-market and also not a fascist or communist dictatorship, would be a special economic zone that is maintained by treaty or tradition. In such places, individuals would be given total freedom and yet operate under an illusion. This illusion would be limited by the phenomenon that the language of the treaty does not in any way effect the behavior of the inhabitants. Such a paradox of freedom is witnessed at Art Fairs, liberal museums, alternative communities within cities, and monastic sites such as the Vatican – their power often resting on the maintenance of the property from the past.
In attempting to understand a unifying force within the broader force of art that allows it to be perceived as whole and abstracted towards exchange with the general economy, we look for an element that allows us to see the work of art between the conscious and sub-conscious realms. Such an element would be capable of switching between two or more logics associated with the parameters and their forces – understood as both particle and wave. This system is governed by an oscillation between integration and difference. This passage between light and dark does not occur in a linear manner, but in a circular one. As with immersion within the warmth of the sun or resting deep within a cave, these spheres are merely two different states that occur in the same realm that we happen to inhabit.
The passage from an oscillation around zero to stability as one can be perceived as we engage the world and traced in the language that we employ to extend our agency and secure a sense of safety. When extended into the general field of art, this language guarantees that art can be understood on variable scales and also as an element within a hierarchy. Such language mediates the shock that is delivered by the work that is not correlated one-to-one, but inversely such that as a language that separates it from the system of value becomes stronger, the more valuable it itself becomes. It is a language that is aware of the paradox of attempting to describe a highly individualized experience through a series of generalities. We should be aware of the huge burden that has been placed on this language by the economy of art as well as the general economy. It is a burden that requires language to carefully position itself through the parameters that it places on signification so that it points at the correct references in the correct media. This process varies from how it addresses the human body to how it addresses the field of psychology. Together, they help define value based on readability and communication.
It is here that light collapses and the absence of structure looms, an indeterminate realm in the line that is drawn between one self and the other. The self hangs in the balance, suspended in a momentary gap between when the ballot is cast and the vote is counted, where arche passes into an-arche, no longer tied to the surprise of art’s spectrality within the city, and beyond caring for terminological distinctions. We are caught in the heat of the act, immersed in the real matter of concrete paint as the brush passes three times to define the contour, the signature floating in suspension, and the dissolution of the binding medium spilling objects out of the frame, letting swaths of light – evoking memory traced in shadows – out over the city in a realm beyond the structuration of columns, walls, and steel – the structure becoming an erratic play of one villain plotting against another as the center opens to reveal the void waiting to slice right through your eye.
“Poetry” marks this struggle between difference and unity and lends a light to the grave problem that lies before us all. Here, the definition of “poetry” is gleaned from its operation rather than from the traces of the possibility that it might exist as a particular medium. “Poetry” is an allegation and confrontation that one is never required to accept. It is a process that emerges in man and that is traced in words and non-words, images and text, in various fragments of creation that oscillate between this world and the next one not quite here yet. They are minorities within a broader field that never constitutes a work in its entirety.
For the contemporary artist, the poetic lies in the orchestrated dis-illusion of the parameters of day-to-day space through the imposition of a new set of parameters that extend well beyond localities through globalizing acts. Often surreal and characterized by play with “nature,” this poetry engages, negates, and re-interprets mimetic activity in different voices. For the artist, presence is born out of incisions made into conventional mimetic activity in order to cause a level of spectacle through the startling state that is imposed on the city. These tactics reframe each other and are unified under the style of the artist’s gesture, their wit, and the characteristic way that each points to a poignant moment in the art and in our lives. This process interrogates the line dividing our economy from that of the artist.
I imagine that few would argue with the tradition of interpreting artists through the origin of their career, the achievements that they attain over a lifetime of investment in the realm of vision, their ambiguous death, and the culmination of their work in the rare instance where it becomes canonized as an exemplary oeuvre. Through such an attempt to see from the start through to the finish, we often become involved in claiming that a process of evolution can be traced in the analytic method that we use to synthesize the work into a total picture that ultimately might be sufficient for canonization. In the context of such a process, it is generally believed to be the case that a career only runs in a single direction. There is little possibility that we might return to the moment when the black square was little more than an oddity hanging in a makeshift gallery or when Duchamp first exhibited his nude descending a staircase. We are unable to imagine reversing the accumulation of capital in corporations and cities and cannot gain access to past experiences that defined the spirit of an epoch.
At the same time, we like to incorporate artwork into our lives, often distorting the oeuvre of the artist in doing so. We position the work within our lives through how we see it standing in relationship to our home or the broader city in which we live. Through this process, we like to claim connection to a unity that extends beyond linearity and allows us to feel genuinely connected to the past and bound to a broader field of sense, taste, and events. In this moment, we feel bound by a force that rises and falls as it evokes past worlds and utopian possibilities. When such a feeling of nostalgic connection or excited possibility takes hold, prompting faith that there might be something beyond the moment in which we live and that has brought us face-to-face with a work of art, we come to ask whether this feeling is always manifested in each moment as if for the first time. Do we rely on what an individual can intuit and assemble as time rushes rapidly forward or does something exist beyond the apparent forward moving material dialectic?
Direction, here, is understood as a set of constraints that are placed on the work of art. The first constraint on directionality in the arts is located with the body and mind of the artist. In a moment of incredible simplicity, this individual comes to the conclusion that, in keeping with whatever quality or flaw they have been given at birth, they must seek recognition at the limit of the norms of society. In working outside of the community often from an innate feeling of exclusion in childhood and drive to create artificial worlds that one can dwell in, govern, and constantly draw a sense of belonging, the artist comes to reconstruct an entire realm of civility. In their isolation, they re-enact the path from the cave, struggling as if for the first time in history to build a system of signs correlated with a series of significations that reduces the opacity of the community into which they were born and the nature of their being.
This process of subtraction from the community in order to realize a certain positive life that they feel is impossible in a realm that is engaged in negating their creativity, spirited-ness, optimism, vision, color, eccentricity, and in certain cases their sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or politics, comes to a head in a moment when a “breakthrough” in the positive process occurs as a local event within their practice that immediately passes the boundaries that the artist has worked tirelessly to erect in order to assure that the art remains pure and untainted by the negative world and becomes visible to the broader community. This moment is the result of an individual recreation of the evolution of man proving to contain a set of axioms that are either totally congruent or clearly translatable with the more widely held views of the day that position man in the space of the world and within the flow of time. The result of coupling the unique relationships that the artist has set between sign and signifier during the process of defining an individual language in which the birth of man might be staged and the normative relationships between sign and signifier that define the language that we speak day-to-day, gives a sense of novelty to the broader community, allows new master-signifier relationships to enter the realm of possibility, and grants the artist access to the community that was abandoned so that creation might be nurtured.
On the other side of the “breakthrough,” the artist finds support for creation through language and money, ultimately coupling the surface of art to a community and establishing a chain of responsibility. This chain of responsibility is difficult to break. Just as subconscious work was required to value the art, so too is it required in severing ties to a culture of representation. Such abandonment imposes a great deal of psychological trauma as it violates the realm of play and substitution one in which a drama is based. In order for unity of art to persist after the dissolution of the culture that cared for it, requires the introduction of a surrogate who steps in when the initial community of friends, patrons, and artists depart. A history of this surrogacy beyond the initial whims of the patron is called aesthetics. This economy of care rests on the notion of substitution. Historically, this process has always led to a point of canonization and removal from the general realm in which art is valued in an un-localizable moment of upheaval when the work becomes priceless. In this moment, the work is given the honor of holding the line between visibility and invisibility.
In the end, work disappears amidst the ruins of civilization. In the context of such vanishing, a strictly mono-directional conception of the value of art is particularly troubling. The concern rests in the vast dollar amount that has come to be associated with some works of art and the possibilities that such dollar amounts might lead to better living conditions in the world. When the unified field of art can no longer be maintained through surrogacy, when the surface of a Picasso can no longer accept further inflation as a financial instrument, and when there is no longer any correlation between the marks that have been made and the worth that has been given, what happens to the value as the market collapses? As dollars begin to flee the troubled institution, where does the value go? Is there a possibility of arresting this flow and redirecting it before value has entirely disappeared? Historically, these emptied sets have added further texture to the world in which we live, another layer in the dig.
At the end of this line of thought, we witness the possibility of another type of system. Such a system is one that breaks free into invisibility as a poetic system that can run in many directions. Such a system lies at the limits of imagination and requires the use of a wide range of metaphors and media to imagine it, each compensating for what the other cannot do. It involves using pictures, artifacts, objects, locations, sounds, smells, and lights to assemble a phenomenal field that points beyond the present and risks connection to wherever the arc of the bomb might land. It is an irrational impulse to cast a probe out into the open and find a new way of doing things there, integrating one world with another through the flight of a missile that falls to open a void into which a new civilization can be dropped.
In order to understand the work involved in balancing our body and the vision of a world that it allows for, we must both know what is meant by the word “work” and the system that is used to ascertain what it is that we mean by “body” and “world.” Art would not have continued as a central concern of civilization for so long were it not somehow related to the intersection between these terms. As a mediating force, art approximates vision of the world and the body in a single entity that traces the confrontation that one might have with another, the territorializing tendency of the gaze, the sense of constitution as a single entity totally separate from a world, and the possibility of territorializing this individual constitution. Passing reflectivity calculates the connection between these various strata of operation.
The limits of body and the limits of a world as visualized are not constituted in the investigation that we have undertaken thus far into the nature of art and the work of the artist. Understanding body and vision cannot be derived from the work of art or from how the economy of art appears to us. However, we can investigate how “body” and “world” are traced through “text,” “image,” and the “space” in-between. Text and image exist autonomously from the body and our vision of a world. When taken in their strict materiality, “text” and “image” do not have a necessary relationship to politics, religion, philosophy, society, the city, and essentially every realm that has a stake in the individual and the relationship that is held with the world. Although produced by man, neither text nor image is oriented in the world without a language that does so. Both are examples of autonomous realms that can never be fully engaged in the moment, but instead are engaged through reflective interpretation – judgment.
These reflective realms draw their power from beyond a given willful act of man and instead from an un-interpreted set of activities. Every attempt to impose a link to the body and our world results in an absolute moment that exposes a further depth of field that resists being linked to the body or world. Even in cases where the subject is considered to engage this relationship, we find the interpretive act presents the possibility of alternative readings and a theory of creative intent. The resulting state does not become a site that is ultimately obscured by our body or the reality of our vision, but one that remains sterile and allows for an investigation both of the relationship between text and image and ultimately the process by which we continue to subscribe to systems of text and image and reason that justifies such an extraordinary investment in elements that lack the tangible sustenance of food, water, roads, houses, and all the goods and services that provide richness and pleasure to our society.
Just as the body provides a frame from which vision extends and the world is perceived, text provides the same for the image. When coming into contact with a new space, we might walk its length – our feet coming into contact with the ground and our shadow extending over the earth – touch its surface with our hand, smell its activities, hear the surroundings in our ear, and make it a place where we let our body rest. This process is comparable to the manner in which text might provide a unit of measure for the image, orient to the scale and quality of the surface, lend poetry to the experience, and provide safety in dwelling in the vision through the extensive annotation that might follow. Moving in the opposite direction, vision can measure our body both pragmatically and erotically, can come to form associations around touch, can give poetry to the body both virtually through fantasy of the body in fictional worlds and physically through the clothing that is selected, and ultimately provide confirmation to a bodily intuition of safety. In the case of the relationship between text and image, image measures text by the difference that it imposes as distraction, senses the surface by lending an atmospheric dimension, provides poetry by opening abstraction in a different medium, and confirms the intuition of safety provided by text.
Beyond the ground on which these terms might be constituted, a subject assumes agency and comes to confront our understanding of body, world, text, and image. When the other human or group is found within our field of vision, represented as a character, or traced as a silhouette, we come to constitute the above operation not by redefining all the terms or sensations, but by mapping an alternate set of relationships that serve the presence of another. In large part, this constitutes setting aside one’s own conception of the body-world relationship and embracing the possibility of a language that is capable of sharing conceptions. This is a relationship defined both by the invisibility of the other to strengthen one’s own vision and a reflective relationship that develops a mutual vision.
This moment and our investigation in general is complicated by the fact that this moment often gives birth to both text and image as a hope of attaining a higher level of communication and affecting a greater efficiency and safety. The problematic becomes even more complex when it becomes clear that following the introduction of text and image, the problem of the other is immediately duplicated and a demonic representation, presentation, subject, and object is born between text and image. In this birth, a major difference is introduced that comes to orient us beyond the singular body-world relationship and to the possibility that that world is merely one step in a chain that leads us through progressive valances away from our atomic core and to the farthest reaches of the cosmos.
We are describing a dance of interlocution that negotiates terms governing co-presence. The difference that is imposed between body and text, image and world, is a result of a feeling of inadequacy of our body and imagination of the world as well as a desire to give agency to the other by allowing them to inhabit a transcript that I might make from memory and extend to create a modified world via the image I draw of the situation that challenges the initial perception of the moment by imposing varying degrees of editorializing. This process ranges from taking a photo to restaging the scene with oneself as a part and even so far as creating a total abstraction – a monument standing in for the original situation. A varying degree of trust can be granted to the other. The summation of the variability of these relationships provides a general understanding of how the operation transpires that allows us to better understand the abstract relationship that governs the initial formation of images and text that, over hundreds of generations and revolutions, have come to be divorced from such localization and agency that may have served it to begin with. While the process may alter the resolution of the rendering process we engage in, it does not operate either text or image as terms that have been solidified within our understanding of being. We are always given an alternative that allows one to see an image instead of the world or read a text instead of the body. It is this separation that art ultimately strives to enact. Before, however, turning to how art might come to work between body and world, we will attempt to understand how art has come to work between text and image.
Work can be divided into four types: the external, internal, insight, and action on insight. External work is an act of separation into individualities or a series of actions that decide how material shall be arranged. The internal is a process of generalizing this field and creating an alibi for the earlier break-up that was affected. Here we find the reflective process of work that constitutes the majority of our lives and one that often goes on in an “other” realm beyond that of concrete difference directed at matter. Insight is the work done in understanding how these two opposing states relate. It is the work of understanding how the subject and object balance. Action on insight is the work that attempts to take generalizations drawn from the first two and, aware of contextual specificity, apply them in such a way that a new insight is manifested without having been derived from a pre-existing and itself unknowable state. Such a trick ultimately relies on an ability to reshape or supplement the artifact ¬– a time stamp on a photo – such that it is able to live after its extraction from its original context as a specimen. Such a supplement often comes as a variation of its own structure or architecture that has been realized from a different angle. Metaphor, synecdoche, regression, and ellipsis are some of the tactics that might be used to allow it to jump from its context and exist in another realm.
These various forms of work are unified as work undertaken between our text and image, body and mind. The relationship between text and image forms a specific local economy while the relationship between body and mind forms the basis of a general economy that serves to interface between various modalities of action in the world that themselves drive local economies. The formation of a language in the labor of definition, the development of a codex, the definition and application of grammar, the syntax of expression, and the grounding of exception draw on attributes of each form of work. This process unifies modes of work in a quickly apparent truth that each form of work is given a greater degree of effectiveness if it can be communicated to many rather than remaining a ritual that is only applicable to one. Work finds a language in which organization can occur to optimize the definition of work through a communal economy enabling peace and stability that ultimately allows for harmonious reign over the volatility of objects that often lead to the violation of territorial claims.
The possibility that work is understood through the language that allows us to describe it and that itself is defined by work, does not allow sufficient distance such that we see a level of universality that allows us not only to move beyond linguistic work, but to see a truth that allows us to understand between spheres as different as body / world, text / image, and ultimately the form of work that we have been questing after all along, the work of art. We have yet to find grounds for understanding work beyond how the English language might be structured, how a building might be built, how a war with the other might be won, or how a civilization might be held together. While we might suggest it is the work of art that itself unifies these realms, we still would not know what we mean by the word and so would be no better off than before. We must ask where from outside of this divisive table that separates labor – a table that we might generalize as that of the law, of accounting, segmentation, punishment, writing, taste, and general civility, and whose very coating marks the extension of the abstraction of class into concrete material reality –are we to find an understanding of work that is simultaneously safe from becoming lost within the sublimity of nature? Such an understanding of work would have to allow for passage between various strata and classes and must also allow us to withstand the paradigm shifts in the system as a whole.
The two options that I would like to suggest are to be found in the realms of physics or psychiatry. The first is engaged in probing the ether and the second the subconscious. Both become lost in an invisible state that is very complex and requires expensive pieces of equipment in order to probe. They travel in opposite directions as man attempts to explain how the universe works. We image the miraculous work done by the atom when giving birth to a mushroom cloud, the brains of the physicists that harness it, the work done by the patient to recall memories, the immense training given to the psychiatrist, or the particle accelerator. We can extend the conception to imagine all of the work implied by the derivative technologies and all the anthropomorphic things that labor in our stead to create and retrieve information.
Whether physical, psychological, or somewhere in between, they form a range of mediated experiences that spread over every aspect of our lives, tracing the processes of work, the division of the table, and all the while threatening us with mistaking this haze of work found in designer bags, jewelry, general ornament, and the stylization that covers over the genuine tectonic achievements of truth, for the structure of work itself. Such a case would be the result of having taken product for source. Instead, we require a level of representation that can be drawn as close to the human as possible. We find it in the very trauma that is traced in the mis-representation of constituents by an authority in the realm of the subconscious and in the realm of language that is used to communicate the subconscious. The discourse of works and their compression exists in a subconscious realm where they blend and replace each other, mixing one mode of volition with another, switching contexts and creating new associations.
Is this realm in which we apologize for our technological conception of work and our mistaken alliance with anthropomorphic instincts just as false in that although it avoids imposing an artificial state over a number of people, it fails to find assured universality by always remaining a synthetic state internal to the human and unable to break from itself as a closed system isolated from nature? We must look for this significance in the passage from the subconscious to the perceptible world of work as the passage from the invisible to the visible, in the moment when the dream is reported, when a bomb annihilates a people, when a rocket-ship flies to the moon, when a murderous rampages erupts, when a virus decimates a people, and when a latent idea comes to a head in revolution or ideological perversity as an “evental site” that brings elements from the invisible realm and constitutes them in the situation, often inducing extreme change through the informative state they provoke.
Such passage into the realm of visibility or invisibility should only be understood in so far as it is traced. Text and image hold such a trace. No trace can ever be said to confine itself to one medium or another. The trace is always in a process of being erased by the absence of the gaze, lack of attention, and loss of community. The trace always travels from one swath of the substrate to another, finding a home in words and non-words indiscriminately. This process does not necessarily intend to find the trace and decipher it. Such a move would offer a static rendering of a work process. Instead, we unearth how the invisible passes to the visible, how the invisible work of the subconscious and the atom or bit becomes present in text or image, how one media frames the other, and how we perceive this process and thereby systematize it just as it itself systematizes the work that we do day-to-day. Such a process is a substitution for an absent religious system and validation of an intuition that the power that drives us as humans does not lie buried in a mountain at the edge of universe, but near at hand.
The substitution for a religion of presence finds itself as a system of presence in text and image that is manifested on an atomic level as the emergence of the system through self-definition and on a subconscious level as a pragmatic organization of impulses that each become entangled with the other. In the case of image, it is manifested as the emergence of values given to bits as a reflection of an external modulation of light and the pattern that they come to have as a result of a reduction of the initial impulse to illumination. In the case of text, it is manifested as the emergence of fragments brought into the light and the active modification of those fragments by a changing and willful manner of illumination. Both forms of presence operate on pictures and paragraphs, informing the possibility of the other. The process is given depth by the work that is done over time as one trace frames another. In the process, an infinite chain is created that forms a spatio-temporal set capable of holding a history of the presencing of an entity as a story, mythology, catastrophe, or art. Together, they create a topography of illumination as a field is developed by the work.
The search for a general economy of passage between the museum and the city, text and image, and body and world has been a recurrent theme in the work of many artists. These artists attempt to understand how the mode of work executed in one world under one logic can hold true in another. This process is seen in the agency and consequent responsibility assumed in passing between sterility and potency. This passage gives birth to the individual, the multiple, and the sovereign. It is itself the central force from which art is both created and ultimately viewed. This force is the representation of the other, the narrative given to the other, the counting of the moment, the pacing from one end to the other, the cost of each minute that is spent in-between, the labor that went into making the moment possible, and all of the interactions between contingencies and presence in the moment. It is traced in a material at hand that is folded into a negotiation between myself and deviations from self under the sovereignty of a given system of thought. These systems define how one approaches the otherness of the work as well as the deviation from forms of self that are evident in art. This experience is multiplied infinitely in a situation and comes to define a world in which art operates and ultimately attempts to achieve sovereignty.
Are we, however, able to attain such a direct relationship with our work? Does art help us attain this relationship? Such a relationship allows for a unity of action and presence. It restores agency to the moment by eliminating our need for the presence of a surrogate body – money, critical reviews, signs indicating worth, etc… – that registers our mark. By reducing the distance that we have to our work, we might reduce the gap between what we produce and what we are represented for having produced. Through such an action, we would reduce the inertia of the politics of power that arises to control this process. By shifting power to the individual who writes code or who is able to register an opinion in real-time, we might be granted greater agency through the broader recognition given to work in the moment. Through this process, no less power is granted to a representational authority that claims sovereignty and provides for collective rights and law. The authority, however, is not centralized and instead itself has become an invisible real traced in a number of appearances.
It is to this realm of the invisible real where authority is located that subjects are represented. This occurs through forms of accounting that place these subjects into a broader matrix of order. Ultimately, the situation that is represented before this authority can continue to exist in the form of representation that it take or pass into another state that I call a “state of presentation.” This is not so much a reversal of typical relationship between “presentation” as accounting for the flow of events in the world and “representation” as accounting for those events, but that it is not a mono-directional system, but instead passes back and forth between the terms. A shift from a screenplay that represents a reality to the presentation of the resulting film before such an audience is one such example. Moreover, in dissecting the process by which the film is made, one finds numerous passages between the presented and represented.
The result of this accelerated and multiplied passage between states leads to the possibility that multiple actions and movements are always in the process of occurring simultaneously in order to constitute an apparent world. This world, however, is constituted by a fixed relationship between representation and production, presentation and reproduction. The represented is always produced. The presented is always reproduced. Production and reproduction as the result of the work that we have been attempting to understand through text and image as entities that can be created through the work of representation and then later become an entity that is presented within the world. Text and Image – and their status in the world – helps us see how strict dialectical relationships between terms can be located at multiple points.
From within this work and the continuous field of work that might be understood from the state of a field that is en-framed and receding, we can glean the operation of the single and multiple agents who translate organic energy into human force that drives our civilization. The terms representation and production order the activities that translate one form of energy into another. As the frame pulls back to reveal a wider field, the specificity of representation and production come to be defined by a need to maintain a hi-fidelity surface that exhibits a high resolution. The best way to accomplish this task is through the use of efficient equations that render the world as quickly as possible under the given limits of processing power. Representation and production come into service of this recession from the ground by the technology that they have brought to presence and the addition that they make to the general accumulation of representation and production that, in its agglomerated mass, presents the limits of the field that might be calculated through the extent to which it already has calculated the world. In doing so, it is the grounds for any information that might occur by the extent to which newly resolved images differ from that of the previous iteration.
The necessity of the rendering process and the key role that representation and production play in its operations is a logical and abstract proposition that takes no necessary form in the world, but is nevertheless traced in many media that linger as inventions. The difficulty in finding a single moment in the field that is clearly anything more than a vulgar example of making or drawing is attributable to the spatio-temporal dimension of the problem coupled with the goal of rendering man within a frame via a negotiation of sovereignty, multiplicity, and individuality within a collective of selves operating in different worlds and cast over the surface of the earth. The variability of space and time over distance and tradition leads to ruptures in homogeneity. In the absence of the ability of one definition of space and time to hold sovereignty over another, the exception is constituted as the real.
While such operation might take place on a general level, the real and virtual can be seen in each instance of production and representation as bound to a local mechanism that is in operation. In this light, we can see art as autonomous from the world and as unified we part of a world. Through such a possibility of seeing the proper framing mechanism that positions both representation and production, we can understand how they operate on different and divided ground that continues to be driven by an evolving definition of production. This is in large part due to the fact that the capitalist system thrives on excess and thereby excludes the possibility of representation – as a process of selecting and excluding – because it denies the possibility of an event based on subtraction because it already operates in an invisible but real subtracted realm. In light of this shift, the virtual becomes increasingly visible in situations such as the internet while the real becomes increasingly invisible, hidden behind carefully guarded compounds. This process is reflective of capitalism coming to a head in the state of democratic materialism via a colonization of the real through the domination of production that was ultimately predicated on the manipulation of the malleability of a purely present space-time as infinite past and infinite future.
We should not readily accept this situation when objective and subjective territory are indistinguishable – a natural, native, or national realm of communal living after the abolition of money. The possibility to set up a divide such that the evental site can still be served by the super-numerary and production can be served by a flow of pure becoming, poses a problem that this super-numerary was defined by the particular exclusion that limited the corporeal cause form the immaterial flow in balancing an equation with superstructure and base. If the sterile virtual realm were to integrate the excess of a past and open the possibility of an event that supports fidelity and community, it would have to do so by simultaneously reversing the relationship between corporal cause and immaterial flow and bind this to the becoming visible of the virtual so that a claim might be made that there is truth in representation rather than mere semblance or artifice. The event would not be defined by the exclusion of the corporeal cause, but of the immaterial flow. Rather than attaining truth through accounting, census, photography, perspective, and representation, we find truth in the ellipsis, in the formal equivalent for the immaterial flow as minimally distinguished from the sense-event as the flow of pure becoming.
Could it be argued that this medium is already being formed as capitalism recedes? Is it possible to effect the formation of this medium by the links that it has in its nascent state? This mediation between the sterility of quasi-causal virtuality and representation is found in the work of cameras, artists, studios, fashion houses, computers, museums, etc… and is a summation undertaken via the devices that humans have invented to test and hone a language of the invisible. Just as globalism becomes a historical term, the process comes to be present as a localization of the real. Here, virtuality is no less omnipresent than the actuality of power under capitalism. Through the connections that it has to the capitalist economy and representational tactics and strategies that we are still in control of, we can gather value and set terms before ties to the real are severed and the paradox of representational virtuality is embraced.
By entering an alliance with Virtual, art is given the possibility to engage in concrete acts of territorialization. As the force behind the virtual becomes visible, we are given a concrete view of the sea that might be subject to its territorialization as one entirely proximate to what we would imagine under the dominance of another capitalization. Through such capitalization, we are given access to the web of the diagram rather than remaining trapped within one region where we are confined to a static definition of subjectivity and representation. We have zoomed out to understand the system rather than trying to effect a particular change. The ultimate result is that we have been lead through the nature of the virtual not to the atomic material reality of the real, but to an en-framed materiality of the virtual.
The possibility of mapping a realm counter-posed to the real as a site of resistance prefigured in art is defined by a situation of hyper-framing that is ultimately suggested in the opacity of the general problem that faces us and the requirement that text and image enter the equation in order to accomplish the work that is required to reduce the opacity of existence. The artist’s work is the site and mechanism of sight that allows for an opening that relaxes fixed relations between territory and sovereignty, power and law. It supports a state of exception that grants access to the subconscious. In suggesting a manner of representation that takes place in a virtual realm, the flow of pure becoming as sense-event in a state of pure presentation is separated from the classical passage to mimetic production as a result of an interruption in the immaterial flow of being. The result is that the represented subject is subtracted from faith because their representation does not happen on the same terms or ground of the event that might provoke fidelity. The same subjectivity that is given to our body would not exist through how we conceive of ourselves as part to the actuality of power and would not come to a realm of visibility through the agency of deeds that mark heroism and build a mythology, but through the device or medium that brings the virtual into a greater realm of visibility.
The manners in which the medium has functioned for the virtual and real sheds further light onto the challenge of properly conceptualizing this situation. Perspectival techniques were used for mapping, but were different from an actual understanding of space in the moment when power is taken. Such a difference is exposed in the disjunction between architecture and program and in the manner that urban planning and similar divisive devices have made men subject. The same difference is exposed in the digital realm through the evolution of screen that engages in mapping a virtual rather than real city. A fine line is drawn between the actuality of power and the map as a field of pure becoming. In this “other” form of subjectivity, a new form of agency comes to be further defined by the thin membrane that separates the realm of production and representation. We are no longer under the assumption of three distinct entities in the terms “actual,” “virtual,” and “mechanical.” We find ourselves confronted with the ambiguous supplement that gives energy to the system as a trace of some original event.
As humans, we are under the influence of the system as a whole and bound as a member. Understanding this membership is far more important than localizing a particular moment when subjectivity is realized or representation is attained, trying to localize the objective operation of the system in the virtual sterility that is glimpsed on just the other side of the line dividing representation and production, or engaging in violent acts of separation that cut away from the immaterial flow. A politics arise that organizes our particular struggles to negotiate the territory and become imbedded. This politics grows around the mediating plane that separates production and representation and ultimately serves to keep worlds separate. Such a politics arises from a coupling and de-coupling of terms subject to an en-framing logic of vision. The energy that powers such a political economy that ultimately comes to be traced in art in general and cinema in particular, is derived from a fidelity to an arche specter – the leader – and creation of a border that might come to encompass and sense a limit to the realm in which the ghost operates – the boundaries of a nation, the limits of taste. The erection of this boundary allows for the imposition of a rate of exchange between one side and the other. The amount of energy that can be drawn from this specter requires administration by ordained caretakers to ensure that the economy does not expand too quickly. This energy is currently passing from the macro realm of capital to the micro realms of the molecular, atomic, and psychological.
This process might go so far as to allow us to better understand the other in future art. It provides insight into how the fiction of the work comes to be visible in either a real realm of or virtual realm as a tracing of behavior of one who is under the influence the art – ultimately defining how “one” might behave as exemplary within this total field. Such a recourse is a matter of economy and of efficiency that argues that experience should be condensed in all its richness. Ultimately, it allows for a pause when we come to find a certain stability of time in an instance when the universe stops collapsing and we can stand motionless outside of the structural determination, safe in dwelling, removed from having to constantly judge the threat of art and nature. We are able to examine the various lines of sight that we have set up and see the various relationships between the fictional and the real, all the narrations that equate and adequate our world, the web of balances, of being and becoming, such that we see beyond linearity and to the economy. This distance or perspective that the artist is capable of attaining, transports the artist outside of time and space altogether as they are canonized with all those who are free. Through the artist’s fame and the mythology that grows around the state that the artist supports, they will be liberated from the economy that they helped us to see. At the same time, they will achieve larger than life status, commanding high prices to the point where the value cannot be translated. In the process, we will have witnessed a total circle whose product is a technology that focuses our world through a force of art that we are challenged to maintain along with all of the economies that continue to support human life.