Transitional Spaces And The ‘Becoming’ Image
“The possible implying the becoming – the passage from one to the other takes place in the infra-thin.” Duchamp (Notes ,1980).
My first essay looked at surface representation (image) in the drawn portrait, and degrees of intimacy in the relationships between the artist, sitter and viewer. I noted the difference in treatment of the sitter as subject, or as object, and the resulting possible differences in intimacy of relationship and intimacy of observation. I conjectured that it might be the paradoxical nature of intimacy - the sense of objective distance alongside emotional proximity – that creates traces of tensions that resonate, or provide richness to the portrait for the viewer. Furthermore, the emotional response from the viewer might be what enables a portrait to exist as a 3-dimensional whole, transcending its 2- dimensional surface.
My next essay looked at the deathmask portrait as a synthesis of subject and object, and at the ways in which an absent sitter could be evoked. It also examined the role of memory in the viewer’s perception of the portrait. The dialogue initiated by the artist between the viewer, object and maker was seen to be crucial to the evocation of absence; achieved by the use of the non-verbal language of our sensory response to materials, and by the creation of the contemplative space (accessed through memory) in which the piece could come to exist in the mind of the viewer. These findings underlined the importance of both perception and conception through visual means, prompting me to investigate the idea of a visceral visual sensing of surface, a kind of ‘optical tactility’. I have also become intrigued with this notion of contemplative space for generation and exchange of ideas – as a point of connection between the artist and viewer that both activates, and is activated by, the artwork.
Therefore, in this essay, I would like to explore the notion of the ‘becoming’ image, the transitional state that precedes actualisation of the artwork, and how this ‘becoming’ state informs our perception of the representation. I would also like to examine more closely the site of interaction with the artwork – the material surface and the way in which its manipulation is conveyed – and the space in which it comes to be a place of transition from one thing to another. Henri Bergson’s discussion of perception and duration in Mind and Matter (1896) and concept of intuition as a method outlined in The Creative Mind (1946) has informed my research; as has Deleuze’s interpretation of these in Bergsonism (1966) and his translation of difference and duration into the notion of ‘becoming’. Alongside and interwoven with these concepts, the perceptual ‘membrane’ of Duchamp’s neologism the ‘infrathin’ has interested me greatly.
Henri Bergson states in the introduction to Mind and Matter that the reality of spirit and the reality of matter is dualistic, and that he seeks to “determine the relation of the one to the other by the study of a definite example, that of memory.” (Bergson,1991, p.9) He defines his concept of the image as: “a certain existence that is more than what the idealist calls a representation, but less than what the realist calls a thing – an existence placed halfway between the “thing” and the “representation.” ” (Bergson, 1991 p.9).
The human body is the intersection between pure image and pure memory, and Bergson addresses the corporeal condition of what he terms ‘affection’ in relation to perception. Unlike an amoeba, which he uses as an example of an organism that reacts immediately to stimulation, (“perception and movement being blended here in a single property – contractility” (p.55)), the human body enjoys a minimal freedom of response, or a “zone of indetermination”(p.39) as he calls it. In this cerebral interval between stimulus and response, the brain prepares actions and chooses the most effective path. Thus, the human body is the site of the dissolution of the dualism between image and memory, object and subject. Memory “constitutes the principal share of individual consciousness in perception”(p.34),and is a state of hesitation, or delay, between pure contemplation and pure action. “The nascent generality of the idea consists, then, in a certain activity of the mind, in a movement between action and representation. [...][which] consists in the transit of the mind as it passes from one term to another.” (Bergson, MM,1991, p.243) This movement occurs between differences, and Bergson makes the distinction between degrees of difference and kinds of difference.
In her essay Bergson, Deleuze and the Becoming of Unbecoming (2005), Elizabeth Grosz writes: “Deleuzian difference is Bergsonian. Deleuze’s understanding [of difference] is addressed to the ontological ground that prefigures and makes possible relations between subjects, and between subjects and objects.” (Grosz, 2005, p.5) Bergson discusses a temporal concept of ‘duration’ - the ‘field’ in which difference lives and plays itself out, a heterogenous, qualitative multiplicity1. It is not spatially predetermined, but continually alters its past through cognitive movement. Grosz writes, “Life is the protraction of matter, as matter is the contraction of life. Mind and matter, life and matter, rather than binary terms, are different degrees of duration, different tensions, modes of relaxation or contraction, neither opposed nor continuous – different nuances, different actualizations of one and the same, that is, ever differing, internally and eternally differing, duration.” (Grosz, 2005, p.7) Deleuze writes about Bergson’s duration as “a case of a ‘transition’, of a ‘change’, a becoming, but it is a becoming that endures, a change that is substance itself.” (Deleuze, 1988, p.37)
In Mind and Matter, Bergson raises the idea of intuition as the means to reverse habitual intelligence, terming it “the turn of experience, [to] illuminate the passage from the immediate to the useful [marking] the dawn of our human experience” (Bergson, 1991, p.185). He elaborates on his concept of intuition in The Creative Mind and calls it ‘sympathy’, consisting of ‘entering into’ the object to know it, rather than going around it from the outside. In Bergsonism, Deleuze describes intuition as a method that “involves a plurality of meanings and irreducible multiple aspects” (Deleuze, 1988, p.14) “Only intuition can produce and activate [the critical tendency], because it rediscovers differences in kind beneath the differences in degree” (Deleuze, 1988, p.21).
With the ‘infra-thin’ (infra-mince) Marcel Duchamp created a word for describing the barely discernible margins of difference, or interstices, between two things or ideas as they transition into and between one and the other. His 46 notes on the infra-thin cover a range of contemplations on differences in perceptions of visible, auditory and olfactory infra-thin. Duchamp declared that there was no definition, only examples, such as the warmth of a seat when someone has left it, or the infra-thin differences of multiple casts from the same mould. The decision to use the prefix ‘infra’ instead of ‘super’ is interesting – ‘super’ would suggest ‘extra’, but ‘infra’ expresses the opposite: the Latin for ‘infra’ is ‘below’, rather than ‘above’, as in ‘infrasonic’ relating to sound frequencies below the human hearing range. This name choice, therefore, speaks of a threshold by association, of a condition of liminality. It speaks of the juncture between two types of thing, or of a gap or passage from one state or dimension to another. By implying the space in which something takes place, we are led to consider how we might be made aware of an action having taken place - evidence of marks, traces or residues, for example.
Ades, Cox & Hopkins write in Marcel Duchamp (1999), “[the infra-thin] aims to isolate a sense of the displacement that bears a trace without necessarily being ‘indexical’ (as a footprint in the sand would be) a kind of interface or state of being ‘inbetween’.” (Ades, Cox & Hopkins, 1999, p.183) Footprints in the sand, or impressions left in a pillow, the notion of the infra-thin relates the body (akin to Bergson’s human body as intersection, site of corporeal ‘affect’) to ideas about impressions, imprints, moulds and casts. The sense of body is inferred, absent or present. Note 44 refers to ‘crease moulds’ – “worn trousers and very creased./ (giving a sculptural expression of the individual who wore them) [...] With in addition, a technical inversion:/ while wearing the trousers/ the leg works like the hand of the sculptor and produces a mold (instead of a molding) and a mold in cloth which expresses itself in creases”. Here, Duchamp considers the dual moulding interaction of the body and the clothes, and conceptually introduces the idea of the mould itself as object for consideration.
Duchamp’s ‘creased’ cast Feuille de vigne femelle (Female Fig Leaf, 1950) is a cast of a mould, and therefore becomes a realisation of the negative space taken from the process of casting the exterior surface of the female genitals (the angle of which leaves us unsure as to whether it is cast from life, or from a modelled representation). By visual association, it implies the intimate fitting together with the positive from which it was taken; it refers to the contact between the two surfaces. Casts and moulds, with their reversing convexities and concavities, explore infrathin differences between internal and external surfaces. Female Fig Leaf was also presented in photographic form on the cover of Le Surréalisme, meme in 1956, lit in such a way that the concavities appear as convexities: a reversal from negative to positive in 2-dimensions, creating the illusion of a representation of 3-dimensional female buttocks. Duchamp made two plaster moulds of Female Fig Leaf (further copies were made in painted plaster at a later date, under Man Ray’s supervision), and with these copies, we can consider the idea of a mould of a cast of a mould, yet another reversal of surface.
Georges Didi-Huberman curated a show in the Centre Georges Pompidou in 1997 called L’Empreinte, with the central theme of “resemblance by contact”. His catalogue essay investigated the idea of direct transference, and encompassed fossils and archaeological remains, the shroud of Turin and death masks, Rodin’s casts of body parts, and Duchamp’s Female Fig Leaf (1950-1) – this last used as a symbol to represent the show. Didi-Huberman wrote about the footprint in the sand as an example of the visible trace that remains of a referent that has disappeared, and is absent; and of the dialectical and heuristic nature of the footprint, in that the process of the action necessitates the form and its opposite created at the point of contact.
Richard Shiff reviewed the L’Empreinte show in Artforum (1997, pp.132-133) and described Duchamp’s Female Fig Leaf as “materialis[ing] ambiguity”. He went on to discuss the idea that the imprint reveals the form otherwise hidden by its own interiority: the ‘mask’ of the fig leaf, which would be in place to conceal, “by contact [...] thus resembles and reveals what it masks” (Shiff, 1997, p.132). Shiff introduces the idea, also, of the ‘lack-of-resemblance-by-contact’, in discussing Marie-Pierre Thiébaut’s grid of fingerprints Medius Digitus. Axinomie 1 et 2 (1994). Instead of ink or paint, she used wet clay to make the impressions and as Shiff observes, “such marks thoroughly blur or fail to register the finger’s pattern of papillary ridges, which identify the mark as a functioning fingerprint. Here, the imprint is entirely indexical, yet isn’t at all what our culture tells us a fingerprint should look like.” (Shiff, 1997, p133) This returns us to infra-thin concerns that address the state of being ‘in-between’: transitioning between what we know and what we don’t know, and the space where two things merge, such as “When the tobacco smoke smells of the mouth which exhales it, the 2 odors marry by infra thin (olfactory in thin).”
Along similar lines to Bergson’s duration, the infra thin also encompasses time and space, along with the indefinable relations that influence the way in which an artwork is received:
“In Time the same object is not the same after a 1 second interval – what Relations with the identity principle?” Duchamp note 7
“Reflection from a mirror – or glass [...] Infrathin separation [...] it indicates interval (taken in one sense) and screen (taken in another sense) – separation has the 2 senses” Duchamp note 9
“The exchange between what one / puts on view [...] / and the glacial regard of the / public (which sees and / forgets immediately) / Very often / this exchange has the value / of an infra thin separation / meaning that the more / a thing is admired / and looked at the less there is an inf.t. / sep.” Duchamp note 10
Associations with ‘becoming’ are also evident in Duchamp’s notes, in his reference to a potential state, with an element of chance: “the possible is an infra-thin – the possibility of several tubes of colour becoming a Seurat is the concrete “explanation” of the possible as an infra-thin.” Duchamp note 1
In another note, he writes: “Allegory (in general) is an application of the infra thin.” Duchamp note 6 Derived from the Greek term allegoria, allegory means ‘to speak so as to imply something other’. Therefore, we might infer that Duchamp is indicating the separation between what is presented and what is signified.
Duchamp’s investigations into the infra-thin came as he sought to move away from what he termed ‘retinal art’ – art that was purely visual, appealing to the eye, rather than the mind. George Heard Hamilton wrote in Inside the Green Box (1960): “What [Duchamp] wanted, we might say, was not a painting of something, but painting as something, painting which should not only represent an object but be in itself an idea, even as the object represented might not be actual in the phenomenal sense but rather a mental image... [His] works of art are [...] not only objects within the physical world but objects of and in consciousness, ‘brain facts’ (cervellités, in [Duchamp’s] own word).” (Heard Hamilton, Inside The Green Box, 1960). Indeed, Duchamp said of The Large Glass, “the final product was to be a wedding of mental and visual relations” (Duchamp, 1959, cited in Heard Hamilton, Inside the Green Box, 1960), and gave the piece the sub-title Delay in Glass, a title which is reminiscent of Bergson’s view of consciousness being a delay between two states.
Reflecting upon my own artistic practice over the past year, I can see that I have become interested in seeking to articulate a sense of the space ‘in- between’, and in this respect, I can understand why the notion of the ‘infrathin’ has resonated so strongly. The concept of a transitional state that exists between two things has been one that my artwork has sought to describe, and as a result, the process of engaging with this intangible ‘gap’ has often been my focus, rather than the ‘finished piece’.
When screenprinting a portrait, I became fascinated with the idea of the moment the face ‘fell’ through the screen, rather than the printed image on the paper. The transformative moment when the ink was pushed through the mesh seemed to speak more about the ‘becoming’ image (and therefore about the moment of perception) than the printed image. Later, I covered another portrait screenprint with a thin layer of cloudy wax in an attempt to embody the space between the viewer and the sitter - something palpable that had material resonance, and that went some way to create distance at the same time as proximity. I made a series of these screenprints, making sure that (through layering) each one was almost imperceptibly different from the last, each with a slight twist of the screen for the top layer: these slight differences from the same screen might be interpreted as ‘infra-thin’.
My film piece, entitled Shifts, moved forwards and backwards through the process of a portrait drawing, seeking to describe both the mutable self and the inconsistency and difficulty of articulating transient states of being. Through the projected film, I wanted to access a sense of temporal fluidity, and multiplicity of states. I projected the piece onto a roll of paper in order to retain the sense of surface interaction that had occurred as the charcoal dust was applied and removed, worked and erased. With its projection in the darkened room, I also incorporated light as a space ‘in between’: the movement of the drawing unfolded in the interplay between light and shadow, and clarity and obscurity.
Moving to sculpture, I made a piece entitled Peer – an artwork that incorporated a stack of wax face casts from one mould, displayed within a glass bell jar. I made this artwork as a response to investigations into the death mask, and how an indexical trace of the face made through casting and direct contact could transition into an auratic object. Walter Benjamin defined the trace and aura thus: “The trace is the appearance of a closeness, however distant whatever left it may be. Aura is appearance of a distance, however close what gives rise to it may be.”(Benjamin, 1903, p.560)2 Death casts would seem to sit firmly within the definition of the index3, yet because of their resemblance by contact, they call forth the aura of the person from which they were taken. As a documentation taken at the moment after death and before decay, they accentuate the corporeal boundaries that separate the living from the decomposing corpse. In this way, they embody a kind of physical and temporal infra-thin: the relationship between the representation and the represented moves back and forth across the infinitesimal gap between the body and its cast, between proximity and distance, between presence and absence, and between life and death. With each reproduction from the mould, decaying matter is regenerated as multiplied copy, but each cast is at a further remove from the matrix.
The varying differences in each face cast in my sculpture, clearly discernible in the layered edges, explored the idea of the limits of the indexical cast, and the idea of degeneration. In addition, the visual distortion created by the convex glass bell jar and its reflections created a multiplicity of views. These features also align themselves with Duchamp’s examples of infra thin. *see Duchamp notes 9 & 35
In keeping with ideas of the infra thin, traces and residues have become central to my work, along with an exploration of the incidental or unexpected. Drawing portraits from face casts with charcoal and charcoal dust onto perforated pianola rolls, has enabled me to experiment with process and chance outcomes as I place paper underneath to receive the charcoal that passes through the holes. In this way, I am orchestrating the creation of a drawing that is both connected to and removed from my own hand. I selected a pianola roll to draw upon, in order to create a visual reference to music, or sound.
Actual sound was not incorporated, in order to suggest the possibility of it in the mind of the viewer: visual cues or prompts to create an echo, or acoustic residue, an embodiment of something that is not there. Whilst drawing a figurative representation of an object (which is an indexical trace of a subject), the transference through the holes created an abstract image, which then became a dual portrait of both the subject and of the process itself. This instigation of procedures to work against habitual aesthetic habits and embracing of chance outcomes, is in keeping with the experimental approach of Duchamp, and relates also to Bergson’s idea of intuition as a method.
With the acquisition of some nineteenth century ambrotypes4, I have been looking at the infra-thin in more depth. Once again, these objects describe the gap ‘in-between’ – the thickness of the glass dictates the gap between the front and back, and when viewing them, it is possible (as a viewer) to choose to ‘read’ the front, middle or back of the image. The image floats on the front surface, and the back of the glass is either covered by a removable piece of black paper, or by a coating of black varnish – both of which make the image on the front surface a positive one. Upon removal of the black paper, the image disappears, or becomes a negative image. Where black varnish has been used, the 160 years passed since its application has meant that the varnish has cracked or flaked away, providing an embodiment of temporal effects upon the original image. Depending upon the light in which I view the glass image (daylight, backlit, scanned, photocopied, under a photographic enlarger) and whether or not I have the thin black paper as a backing, the image presented to me is different. Photographing each variation, I have been able to transition between those differences, creating multiples from one source. With consideration of Duchamp’s notes (particularly nos. 7, 15 & 22), interest in the interstices between things has been crucial to my ‘unpicking’ of the object and image. The photographed subject moves between existence and non-existence in the infra thin, and they exist in differing forms. In the case of one ambrotype with specific areas of black varnish on the rear, the subject can appear whole (with black paper backing) or partial – a pair of floating, disembodied eyes fixing us with a direct gaze from the nineteenth century. When placed under an enlarger, the light cannot pass through the swirls of black varnish, and she becomes a blindfolded spectral figure with angelic wings. In each variation, we are presented with a different portrayal of the same subject, an awareness of differing viewing environments, and the object directing how we see the image. We are also aware of both the time at which the photograph was taken - the ‘snapshot’ of a particular moment in time – and the fact that the sitter is long deceased. With this simultaneous understanding of the past and the present, time becomes a fluid concept and the viewer is able to comprehend a movement forwards and indeed backwards, to the time that preceded the image and led to the possibility of its actualisation.
In the studio, whilst experimenting pouring plaster onto some used tracing paper, I discovered that the pencil drawing on the tracing paper had transferred itself perfectly from the paper onto the plaster. I came to see the resulting plaster fragments as being both a print and a ‘cast’ of the drawing – the plaster had received the image whilst taking the curved shape and buckled form of the thin tracing paper. In effect, the liquid plaster had filled and captured the interstice between the paper and the plaster. The moment of surface-to-surface contact, and the moment that the minute thickness of a pencil line moved from one surface to another, had been recorded. All of this returns me to my original fascination with the ‘becoming’ image – the ink passing through the mesh of the screen when screenprinting. This time, however, there was no applied pressure to create the image transference, and no mesh barrier to pass through – the plaster had received the direct trace from contact.
Whilst Duchamp accessed the idea of the ‘becoming’ image through considered written notes and through a desire to avoid ‘retinal’ art, Eva Hesse exemplified the ‘thinking through materials’ approach, whereby her handling and use of materials embodied her cognitive processes. In 2009, Briony Fer curated an exhibition called Studiowork at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, of ‘test-pieces’ made by Hesse – the body of work undertaken as experiments with a range of materials. In her accompanying book, Fer defines these pieces as ‘sub-objects’, a term she decided spoke about their status as “something that does not quite rise to the status of an object but remains closer to a thing. They play somewhere in between these two terms.” (Fer, 2009, p.42). This description aligns with the idea of a ‘becoming’ object, something that exists between two states, and that encompasses both the creation and the possibility of actualisation.
Fer spoke5 about the prefix ‘sub’ as a way of demarcating a space beneath the threshold of sculpture, towards the layer of activity beneath the surface. (This is reminiscent of Duchamp’s choice of ‘infra’ as a prefix.) It is interesting to consider the palpability of this sedimentary activity transmitted through ‘optical tactility’ – a term which I use here to indicate the visceral visual sensing of surface. Clearly evident in these pieces, is the manipulation of the materials – the ‘working’ of the work. By looking at the pieces, we can understand the manner in which they have been made, and imagine the bodily gestures that Hesse would have undertaken whilst making them – folding, threading, winding, weaving, opening up, stitching. Most of these ‘sub-objects’ are hand scale, as well as hand made, and employ what might traditionally be considered craft techniques, challenging the way we think about the categories of making, and forcing us to query the terms by which they’ve been assimilated as art. We have a sense of Hesse experimenting with materials, or, where components are left unaltered, with experimenting with their placement and the resulting interplay of materials. Our interpretation of the pieces is as much to do with the methods as the medium. As Fer writes, these pieces suggest “the working of something that is still coming into being as an object. The impression [is] that the material is in a process of becoming”(Fer, 2009, p.21). Hesse wrote notes to herself, recording how different materials behaved under variable conditions. “Rather than revealing her concern with what is intrinsic to individual materials, she is equally, if not more, interested in their extrinsic connections and interactions.” (Fer, Studiowork, 2009, p.106).
Sol LeWitt called some of these pieces ‘studio leavings’ 6, which conjures up ideas of residues and remains of the activity in the workspace, traces of experimental thoughts, realised in form and space. I consider these working pieces her ‘sketches’ when thinking through materials; not sketches in the stereotyped view of being preparatory work for a ‘final piece’, but sketches as thinking, as direct thought made visible. The way in which the manner of their making is evident, means that we become aware of how these things come into being, as well as the possibility of their failing – failure being an intrinsic part of creativity and discovery, and as valuable as success. We are invited as viewers to try thoughts out, to think around and into the pieces, and when looking at a grouping, to consider both the connections and the disconnections between them – at the encounters between objects. As Fer writes, “It is the spaces between things as much as the things themselves that animate the space.” (Fer, Studiowork, 2009, p.101).
Sketches in space, and sketches on paper – “making a drawing for Hesse was just as material as making an object out of string” (Fer, 2004, p.122). Hesse wrote on one of her drawings in a notebook from 1967 “three dimensional drawing”, and as Fer suggests, “it is feasible [therefore] that she also thought of drawing as a way of ‘sculpting’ a flat surface.” (Fer, 2004, p.129). ). In ‘The Infinite Line’ (2004), Fer writes about Hesse’s catalogue statement for the Art in Process show at Finch College in 1969: “[Hesse] wrote that she wanted to make what was ‘not yet known’ and then strung together the words ‘thought seen touched’7, without punctuation, as if it were one word.” (Fer, 2004, p.117). This juxtaposition and union of words speaks volumes about the way in which these things were inextricably linked in Hesse’s practice and about her strategy for finding the ‘not yet known’. Hesse’s practice recalls the Renaissance idea of disegno, from the Italian word for drawing or design, in which it was understood as a cognitive process through which the artist gave form to their ideas, “in clay or wax, [effecting] the same thing as [...] on paper or other flat surface” (Vasari, 1907, p.206). It also recalls Bergson’s concept of intuition as a means to invention, and the interconnected role of mind and matter. Of the ‘sub-objects’ made by Hesse, Fer mused: “Maybe it is something, maybe it is nothing. This is the point: you cannot simply take these things for granted as art. They are often things that are still in the making – and arguably they continue being made as we think about them, remaining in a state of becoming in our minds.” (Fer, 2009, p.23) This observation connects the triangular relationship between the artist, object and viewer, and describes the way in which an artwork can become a point of connection between the artist and viewer, encompassing a multiplicity of outcomes.
As part of the MA Drawing course, we were required to run a drawing workshop for our peers. As a visual reference for the introduction to my workshop, I used an image of the ‘Rubin’s Vase’ optical illusion, which depicts a set of reversing 2-dimensional forms that can be seen as either two faces in profile, or a vase. Either two faces, or a vase - but actually, sometimes it’s possible to see both at the same time. I realised that it is precisely this moment of perception that encompasses dualities that I wanted to harness in my drawings: the understanding of a moment of transition between (back and forth) co-existing things, the acceptance and synthesizing of multiple layers of consciousness – or the tapping into the ‘cerebral interval’ of which Bergson wrote. I quoted David Musgrave in my first essay:
“If the dust of a drawing is alive, it is both because of its entanglement with language (it ‘describes’ something; there is a flash of energy from image to referent that doesn’t result in either their coinciding or estrangement) and its ability to elicit something less easy to articulate in words, something that happens in the blind spots of representation” (Musgrave, 2004, p.14).
This sentence of his still resonates strongly with me; the idea of a ‘blind spot’ of representation as a site of action that is activated by the artist, creating a living thing with which the viewer can interact, is one that has me enthralled, and has influenced my approach to drawing. Researching Bergson’s ideas on perception, duration and intuition, and Deleuze’s ‘becoming’ has helped me contextualise my understanding of this idea. The concept of becoming is extremely useful in providing a framework of understanding, and Duchamp’s infra thin provides the space in which the becoming image could exist, with the variety and flexibility to incorporate a multiplicity of approaches. In Hesse’s methodology, I recognise my own approach: realisation of concepts and the form that they might take through manipulation of materials and experimentation, and the juxtaposition and interplay between objects and spaces ‘in between’.
When I began the MA Drawing course, my focus was on representation on one plane. I was aware that whilst I was gathering knowledge about techniques of representation, I was limited in strategies to express multiple states, or layers of consciousness in my drawings. The cross-disciplinary nature of the course and the research I have undertaken has enabled me to comprehend a much richer, and infinitely more connected concept of drawing. Drawing exists as a flux for the communication of ideas. By not limiting it to just marks on paper, we allow it to exist as an embodiment of thought, encompassing many forms. As Bergson’s concept of intuition as a means to ‘turn experience’ suggests, it is the willingness to consider the co-existence of a variety of outcomes which can lead to invention, and I believe that it is sensitivity to the margins of difference between things, concepts and outcomes that is central to making art that is ‘not yet known’.
“I would like the work to be non-work. This means then that it would find its way beyond my preconceptions.” (Hesse, cited in Studiowork, 2009, p.71)
1. For further elaboration of Bergson’s duration as a qualitative heterogenous multiplicity, see The Creative Mind (1946):
It is a succession of states each one of which announces what follows and contains what precedes.” (2007, p.137)
It is enough for us to have shown that our duration can be presented to us directly in an intuition, that it can be suggested indirectly to us by images, but that it cannot – if we give to the word concept its proper meaning – be enclosed in a conceptual representation.” (2007, p.141)
“There is, on the one hand, a multiplicity of successive states of consciousness, and on the other hand, a unity which binds them
together. Duration will be the “synthesis” of this unity and multiplicity” (2007, p.155)
2. Walter Benjamin quote from Gesammelte Schriften, vol.5, Band 1, (1903) p.560, in Sigrid Wiegel, Body-and-Image-Space: Rereading Walter Benjamin (1996). p.120
3. Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) wrote about three types of sign: the index, the symbol, and the icon, indicating various relationships between the object and its representation – the signifier and the signified. Joan Gibbons writes about his definitions in her book ‘Contemporary Art and Memory’: “In Peirce’s scheme of things, the index is characterised by an existential relation to the object, as opposed to the symbol, which is a code that is entirely independent of the physical characteristics of the object (as in linguistic or geometric signs), and the icon, which refers to analogous and purely mimetic types of representation (as in figurative art or figurative language). The indexical sign may involve abstraction or, indeed, may be heavily mimetic, but it is distinguished by the fact that the signifier retains at least something of the existential ‘having been thereness’ of that which is signified.” (Gibbons, 2007, p.30)
4. An ambrotype is a positive photograph on glass made by a variant of the wet plate collodion process. Like a print on paper, it is viewed by reflected light. Each is a unique original that could only be duplicated by using a camera to copy it. Ambrotypes were introduced in the 1850s, and were superseded by the tintype soon after, which was printed onto iron.
5. Briony Fer gave a lecture at The Fruitmarket Gallery to coincide with the exhibition. This lecture is available to listen to online, at: http://www.fruitmarket.co.uk/archive/eva-hesse/
6. Taken from the transcript of a meeting between Sol LeWitt, Carol Androccio, Connie Lewallen and Elise Goldstein at Berkeley Art Museum, CA, 17 November 1981, cited in Studiowork (2009)
7. Eva Hesse quote cited in ‘Infinte Line’, (2004, p.117) from Statement for Art in Process, December 1969, in Eva Hesse: Sculpture 1936-1970, Whitechapel Gallery 1979, unpaginated. Notebooks selected and laid out by Naomi Spector.
Selected notes from Duchamp’s notes on the infra thin:
1. The possible is an infra-thin [....] The possible implying the becoming – the passage from one to the other takes place in the infra-thin.
3. Incidentally: different aspects of reciprocity – association [...] 4. The warmth of a seat (which has just been left) is infra-thin.
7. Sameness/similarity/The same (mass prod.) / practical approximation of similarity.
In Time the same object is not the same after a 1 second interval – what Relations with the identity principle? [...]
9. [...] Reflection from a mirror – or glass – flat/convex. Infrathin separation – better than screen, because it indicates interval (taken in one sense) and screen (taken in another sense) – separation has the 2 senses male and female. [...]
10. The exchange between what one / puts on view [the whole / setting up to put / on view (all areas)] / and the glacial regard of the / public (which see and / forgets immediately) / Very often / this exchange has the value / of an infra thin separation / meaning that the more / a thing is admired / and looked at the less there is an inf.t. / sep.
11. Transparency of the infra-thin
Depending on the material employed the infra thin produces computable transparencies by an increasingly bright beam of light [...]
Magnifying glass for “reaching” – infra thin [...]
Piece of iridescent cloth [...] (support for the visible infra thin) [...] Corduroy [...] when brushing against itself gives an auditory inf thin
When the tobacco smoke smells of the mouth which exhales it, the 2 odors marry by infra thin (olfactory in thin)
12. Infra thin separation between the detonation noise of a gun (very close) and the apparition of the bullet hole in the target [...]
15. Painting on glass seen from the unpainted side gives an infra thin 17. Hollow paper (infra thin space and yet without there being 2 sheets)
18. The difference (dimensional) between 2 mass produced objects [from the same mold] is an infra thin when the maximum precision is obtained.
21. cast shadow / oblique/ infrathin Typo impression/photo/etc./infrathin
22. Application of oblique daylight / to the production of infra thin 23. X Rays/?/infra thin/ Transparency or cuttings
24. [...] Between 2 sheets of glass a substance that solidifies without adhering to the sheets of glass – compression [...]
35. Infra thin separation
2 forms cast in the same mold (?) differ from each other by an infra thin separative amount.
44. Crease molds [...] – worn trousers and very creased./(giving a sculptural expression of the individual who wore them)/ the act of wearing the trousers, [...] is comparable to the hand making of an original sculpture.
With in addition, a technical inversion:/ while wearing the trousers/the leg works like the hand of the sculptor and produces a mold (instead of a molding) and a mold in cloth which expresses itself in creases [...]
45. just touching. While trying to place 1 plane surface precisely on another plane surface you pass through some infra thin moments
Reflections of light on diff. surfaces more or less polished –
[...] – mirror in depth could serve as an optical illustration to the idea of the infra thin as “conductor” from the 2nd to the 3rd dimension.
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