Saturday, 13 February 2016

Artistic references

The preceding projects from the whole opus Corpus Indeterminata are connected to many formal sculptural questions about the usage of different materials and technologies (making figurative sculpture from animal fat by constructing the cooling system to preserve the rigid form). Also questions about visual / tactual perceiving through different senses; figure - body relationship; the value of fragment; and placing work of art in space (statuette with pedestal, inter-media installation etc.). Whilst also the form can be connected with different types, styles and individual pieces of art through history (for example like Duchamp, Beuys, Gober, Gormely, Chapman brothers, Quinn, McCarthy, Barney etc.) - the most important reference is related to Joseph Beuys and his animation of dead hare in his performance How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (Wie man dem toten Hasen die Bilder erklärt) on 26 November 1965 at the Gallery Schmela in Düsseldorf.


The thing that always strikes me in this performance is dealing with a question of living and non-living, and a special kind of puppet performance - where Beuys as an artist is marionettist and the hare is - even now at this moment while I'm thinking on it - living in the imaginary of this performance (like Beuys also explain in upper video).

With the concept of a new project like Horse power some of those old references or memories are underlying the work and other old ones reappear. The project Horse power is not to be confused with some previous inventions in art or some, presented as a historical moment that need an artistic image to justify it. References are just my starting point of orientation in the field of art and technologies. They are not really important as they are not direct references neither is the project Horse Power their illustration. Those images are reflecting a feeling that I had at the beginning of the project. They will probably fade away, but one reference in relationship between living - non-living and the animation is obvious: Luigi Galvani's experiment with manipulating removed frog legs with electricity:

The beginning of Galvani's experiments with bioelectricity has a popular legend which says that Galvani was slowly skinning a frog at a table where he had been conducting experiments with static electricity by rubbing frog skin. Galvani's assistant touched an exposed sciatic nerve of the frog with a metal scalpel that had picked up a charge. At that moment, they saw sparks and the dead frog's leg kicked as if in life. The observation made Galvani the first investigator to appreciate the relationship between electricity and animation — or life (citation from Wikipedia).

And another image that resembles - not by theme, but by atmosphere - the mood of it: an oil-on-canvas painting An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768) by Joseph Wright of Derby that I saw last year in Tate Britain, powerful and emotional scene with chiaroscuro effect created with central light source, which is somehow haunting me.

A picture that in the field of cultural studies is important from the perspective of gender - as men are vividly interested in a scientific experiment where lack of air is putting parrot to unconsciousness - women are afraid of it or don't want to look: that's why the painting is called masculine. But from Wright's view - he needed a tension, a drama in the small centralized part of the picture, which he created with the feeling of uncanny (das Unheimliche). He did it some two years after the publishing of Lessing's Laocoon:

"Equally beyond question is it that hurtful ugliness excites terror in a picture as well as in nature, and  that the ridiculous and the terrible, in themselves mixed sensations, acquire through imitation an added degree of fascination."

With a progress of the art project Horse power many questions will arrise. One would probably be the uglyness as decomposition affects: visual as well as smelling. I just wish that idea of living / non-living remains clear to justify the appeal and show possible alternatives in thinking of non-anthropocentric owning of the planet and life on it.

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