Working along the margins

No edge, no margins, no bounds or fencing. On the contrary: freed of all purpose are the fetters that represent what they, as a frame, otherwise protect and are supposed to intensify (ennoble). Now stripped: the nakedmaterial - skeletal, like a scaffolding - arms, legs, torsi. The frame elements can also form script (lettres) set in letters, messages, and news.

But how? What happens when an added value acts crazy because the frame (the excluding boundaries) marks the price (the apprised value)?
We know: even the Lego block world of small children - where the assembly of the elements reaches the limit of the statistically possible - can produce disasters, but also wonderfully fragile structures.

Taking things at their word

If religiously motivated imagelessness has actually prevented artworks or, as in wrathful Protestantism, destroyed valuable pictures and answers the question with a counter-question: What does this old story matter to us, when we live in the midst of a flood of images?

Doing the impossible and maintaining the limits - or breaking through limits?

Claim: The ban on images will remain unique. Once expressed, it was immediately circumvented or never radically realized. Calligraphy, for example, is one of the most impressive forms of art, whether in Japanese, Hebrew, Arabic, or Chinese script or in the script of some other country.
Small children scribble and mold signs and figures in every material they get their hands on (whether feces, urine, or garbage), much to the delight of the psychiatrists.

The ban on images will remain unique, because the idea will never disappear again.




The materials used in the project - frames and elements of frames - will not be able to exceed the boundaries radically. Or only conceptually. Each individual frame element is a virus that brings back the picture. Each individual element of a wall becomes an image.
The same in words. Beckett's No more words, radically imposed, would render the sentence No more pictures impossible, i.e. unwritten. Doubly amputated, we would be gone, or at best free-floating brains communicating virtually.

Frames signals boundaries As given frame elements, they have the character of signals or signs.



In his Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Gregory Bateson takes up his daughter's questions:

Daughter: Daddy, why do things have outlines?

Father: Do they? I don't know. What sort of things do you mean?

Daughter: I mean when I draw things, why do they have outlines?

Father: Well, what about other sorts of things - a flock of sheep? or a conversation? Do they have outlines?

Daughter: Don't be silly. I can't draw a conversation. I mean things.

Father: ...Do you mean "why do we give things outlines when we draw them" or do you mean that the things have outlines whether we draw them or not?

Daughter: I don't know, Daddy. You tell me. Which do I mean?

In our context, what is fascinating is Bateson's lack of response to his daughter's answer that she means things and not conversation, thus excluding signs (tones and script) without contradicting.
By contrast, our project is based precisely on the fact that script (and signs in general) are things. Not like a stone, a bird, or a tree; signs already signal a detour taken to arrive at a goal more swiftly and securely. Following the logic of the logic, signs are signs of something. Substitutes, they stand for something, says classical semiotics. The French philosopher Derrida, east of west, negates this view and claims that the sign stands at the beginning.




Working along the margins

That the signs represent something in their absence makes sense and, with adequate coding, functions quite well in proximity; but in the distance? Fire, for example, appears to be the first means by which messages were conveyed abstractly and rapidly across great distances, since by day the resulting smoke and by night the glow are visible from afar. It is thought that the Talmud is the oldest source describing a communication system based on such fire signs.



The ceremonious geographies of human limits

Since Paul Klee, the Russian Constructivists, Henri Michaux, and American Pop Art, not to mention the undisputably great calligraphers, who nevertheless worked within precise limits, art has taken up signs, without purpose, and plays with them.
"The images annihilate the world. They have no past. They do not come from any earlier experience. It is certain knowledge that they are metapsychological. They give us a lesson of solitude."
It can be assumed that art historians howl when they hear this sentence by Maurice Blanchot. Let them. In the literature, pictures are pictures, today precisely as precariously and fragilely as in art.



Much has changed since it was discovered that the visible appears in its most striking form as soon as it moves away, gaining distance and contour.
But what does this concrete distancing consist in? What gives rise to alienation and gives it a justification for existing? What goal does it set? Obviously, no pictures are painted, only the preparations are made: the most external contours.
But that alone doesn't hit the mark.
That art is no longer able to tolerate the absolute is nothing new. That it stands arbitrarily alongside other media (functionally and "led" by the market, i.e., that it is becoming the assistant of culture and economy is denied and slow to be realized. On the other hand, the refusal of all aid and every impulse from outside is possible only at the price of isolation. In this case, something is depicted that lacks all justification. Art, says Maurice Blanchot, does not deny the modern world, nor the world of technology, nor the urge toward liberation and transformation that is supported by technology; it expresses or fulfills relationships and the optimistic assumption is that it precedes objective and technical fulfillment. This is a large claim that can be redeemed at all only if it again and again makes fragmentary attempts to go to the limits and to admit the ephemeral.
"My entire work is only practice", says Paul Valéry. The painter, for example, knows painting, but he does not know the emerging picture, and so the painter knows that painting is impossible, not realizable, unreal. It eludes him, just as the texts elude the writer.

But inside, no more boundaries (Jean Tardieu)




The ceremonious geographies of human limits

Today, nothing holds the artist back. Everything is at his disposal, every material, every media technology, and (almost) every site. This surfeit stands against the fact that precisely the most creative direct their entire power toward a single point (even if they approach it from all sides). It is not a matter of experimenting or of questioning and transgressing the limits of acceptance. Beckett says it for the writer and in proxy for the other arts: "Since I do not know how to speak, since I do not want to speak, I must speak. No one forces me to...it is a chance situation, it is a fact." The picture or figure, too, remains without distinct painter or sculptor, for it is made out of the disappearance of statement (even if this disappearance can consist in surfeit). "Too much space crowds in on us much more than when there is not enough space."



I dreamed of a nest where the trees repulse death.

"Life is probably round", wrote van Gogh. It is assumed that images of perfect roundness help us gather ourselves around ourselves, in order to confirm ourselves from within. From the inside out, without outward form, existence could only be round. The bird, says Michelet, is completely spherical. A higher degree of unity cannot be found, an excess of concentration is great strength, but, as social weakness, contains ist isolation.
Shell, egg, embryo: roundness, on the one hand. And on the other: the corner,seed of the house and the room. They limit, fence in, form frames. Courtly and bourgeois society, which tried to make their dwellings and rooms more beautiful and interesting with pictures, hung on their walls stretched canvases that were put in artistic frames to round them out. The landscapes that emerged in the pictures of the Renaissance opened a dreamable Elsewhere in imagined spaces.
The seemingly precise reproduction of the seen and the imagined was accompanied by the line, the opposite of a frame. A frame can be curved and brought into the shape of an oval or circle, but it remains tied to symmetry and underscores.
The line seeks its path, with as much control as possible from the draftsman as possible or freely running. But as odd as it seems, the line and the frame move through similar spaces. Lines move effortlessly in emptiness; frames create emptiness. The reversal of the dimensions, the turning inside-out of perspectives, led Henri Michaux to write: “Space, but you can't grasp it, this terrible inside and outside that is true space.”

© Urs Jaeggi  /   Website: Universes in Universe