28 April 2007

Against

You build off of what is already level, flat or "true".

When you do that, you can put a measuring tool against that one good thing and make sure all other things conform to the goodness or rightness that is already apparent.

In this way, "rightness" or "trueness" in building is relative--it travels throughout a structure. And it is also something made my humans. Trees are cut into planks and then shoved through a planer until all four planes are flat and true. Steel is melted and extruded into the right shapes, shapes you can put a square against.

I TA'ed introduction to art history for Sheldon Nodelman, and he has a theory that starting from a flat or true place--and the subsequent convenience of the right angle--is an Egyptian innovation. I do not have a comprehensive enough understanding of history to prove him right or wrong.

But I absolutely buy the gestalt: the flat plane and the right angle can make you feel so powerful that you try to change that which is unchangeable... like death.

These are conceptual tools that make "structure" as we know it possible. Material can rise up out of the earth and defy its nature mostly because once we have a true starting point--we can make infinite triangles that will go infinitely upward.

(Thanks, Brancusi)

Anyway, I am wondering if it is necessary to think about structure in terms of working against that "truth" that you create first. Because any "truth" that comes from my lips or hands is not truth at all... at worst it's just the tyranny of my own small mind, and at best it's just an arbitrary convention.

The crappy part is that this question has the capacity to collapse quickly into a saccharin Goldsworthyan naturefest. To be clear: I am not talking about spirals or stacking stones or working without tools. That Andy Goldsworthy sure is a clever chap, but I hate the way he fancies himself unimplicated when he is just pushing his truth all over the countryside.

I am not talking about that kind of conservatism. I am talking about that moment when you realize that you are not talking about nature at all, because you can't. Because all you know is materials. And you want to know what these materials would do if you could have an honest conversation with them about where they came from and what they can do. A conversation in which they did most of the talking.

I am talking about that awkward moment in a conflict when you realize that you have been a real bully with your version of the truth, which you see suddenly is not true at all, and so you have to shut up and listen.

1 Comments:

Blogger Bill Gusky said...

...I am wondering if it is necessary to think about structure in terms of working against that "truth" that you create first. Because any "truth" that comes from my lips or hands is not truth at all...

...

...you want to know what these materials would do if you could have an honest conversation with them about where they came from and what they can do. A conversation in which they did most of the talking.


This is tunneling right down to the core, isn't it? It's like with the continents shifting faster and faster you need to find what's at the bottom of it all. Such a vital issue to engage, and so rare to see it being engaged, don't you think?

Well, we are made of matter. Does it influence our thoughts? I suspect it does more than we realize, and even sometimes in the face of ego's sustained illusion.

Maybe this is what gives us the sense of dialog with matter, this call-and-response we engage in.

The signal's so faint and easily shattered. Like listening to shortwave radio.

28 April, 2007 09:12  

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