A progressive artist who won’t thank you for your attention
20.11. – 21.12.14
Progressive Artist vs. Disobedient Object
I don’t want to see Jakub Geltner’s exhibition as an attempt to deconstruct or subvert traditional media and format of art (canvas and traditional sculpture vs. technologies, form vs. function, pragmatism vs. romanticism, parodying contemporary artists etc.) All these aspects can be easily found in this project, but it would be an unoriginal and boring read. I am going to offer a totally different point of view and will choose a direction that probably even the author himself did not think of when creating the concept. I am going to leave out the artist as well as audience and will observe the project from the perspective of a disobedient object. Seen from this perspective I don’t consider the exhibition to be dichotomous and critical, but rather return to matter and material¹, to the object and its independent existence.
The latest theories herald the end of anthropocentrism and correlationism², while things, objects and matter are making a shift to a higher level of interest, attention and understanding. Objects and tools are becoming independent, having their own strength and power they trigger social changes and encourage political activism and they are the main object of study of contemporary science and philosophy³. In this light, aesthetic moments are not restricted to interaction man v. matter, man v. man, man v. words, etc., but they may also arise individually from interaction between different objects, when vibrations or gravitation affect matter, or when one object resists another. Causality itself may also be an aesthetic phenomenon⁴.
Under the influence of these speculative thoughts, the thing I find most interesting about the project by a progressive artist, who didn’t even thank (the objects), is how things activate, influence and change one another. One object performs another one (a chair performs sandpaper, sandpaper performs a seat, a grinder performs a traditional sculpture and a sculpture performs a grinder…) and the artist only becomes secondary driving mechanism, a prompter in a play where the main roles are played by objects and materials. Objects become creative, forming one another, bearing traces of touch, getting destroyed, disappearing one in another. They ignore the functional shapes and design that has been assigned to them by a human, they don’t care about the context of a gallery where they should be pretending to be art. They do whatever they want and they influence each other with their features, their existence. Objects become independent and rebellious, staging their own dramatic experience and performing themselves (they don’t need to be activated by a viewer). They behave as very specific beings with specific qualities. Matter becomes creative, materials and forms use their utility as a method and we see destructive, and at the same time constructive, aspects of the interaction between the objects. Their materiality, format and form are manifested as a process of change, as aesthetics of intervention, as a form of interference.
The ticklish equilibrium of materials and inherent changeability of shapes also emphasise the inconstancy of art media, inconstancy of consensual values, political, financial, economical instability of production, apocalyptic ecologic future. I would like to see this project as “ambient poetics”⁵, as a challenge to reassess our relation to objects (in the widest sense of the word) and the role of materials (substance, matter) in contemporary art and in politics. Objects have returned among us so that they could haunt the public sphere years after they were eliminated by virtual technologies and requirements of global circulation and within the framework of change it is necessary that we come to better understanding of the objects themselves together with their entanglement that forms (and deforms) our world.
Text by Anetta Mona Chisa
1. Jakub’s works have been, until recently, mainly virtual, 2D graphics, photography, 3D animations, video. As he wrote to me a couple of days ago in an e-mail“I am now in a phase of experimenting with material and sculpting installation in site-specific style.” I understand his new interest as return to reality, return to reflexive life and production of real objects made of real materials.
2. Phenomenological conception that assumes that the world is a kind of human experience. This term was used by Quentin Meillassoux in his book Après la finitude. Essai sur la nécessité de la contingence (Seuil, Paris 2006) as a contradiction to a belief that objects exist independently of human perception.
3. Object-oriented ontology (OOO) is a metaphysical movement that rejects the privileging of human existence over the existence of non-human objects. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Object-oriented_ontolog’
4. “The aesthetic dimension is the causal dimension.” – this concept is developed by Timothy Morton in Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality (OPEN HUMANITIES PRESS, 2013): “Realist Magic is an exploration of causality from the point of view of object-oriented ontology. I argue that causality is wholly an aesthetic phenomenon. Aesthetic events are not limited to interactions between humans or between humans and painted canvases or between humans and sentences in dramas. They happen when a saw bites into a fresh piece of plywood. They happen when a worm oozes out of some wet soil. They happen when a massive object emits gravity waves. When you make or study art you are not exploring some kind of candy on the surface of a machine. You are making or studying causality. The aesthetic dimension is the causal dimension.” (str.19-20)
5. A term used by Timothy Morton (“Why ambient poetics? Outline for a depthless ecology”, 2002, https://www.academia.edu/1080178/Why_Ambient_Poetics)