— Searching for Nazak is a collaborative project between myself and Jemma Desai of I am Dora, about the lesser-known works and life of the female photographer, and Iranian exile, Nazak Pahlavi.
Why such harsh machinery?
Why, to write down the stuff
and people of every day,
must poems be dressed up in gold,
in old and fearful stone?
I want verses of felt or feather
which scarcely weigh, mild verses
with the intimacy of beds
where people have loved and dreamed.
I want poems stained
by hands and everydayness.
Verses of pastry which melt
into milk and sugar in the mouth,
air and water to drink,
the bites and kisses of love.
I long for eatable sonnets,
poems of honey and flour.
Vanity keeps prodding us
to lift ourselves skyward
or to make deep and useless
So we forget the joyous
love-needs of our bodies.
We forget about pastries.
We are not feeding the world.
— Pablo Neruda, “Sweetness, always,” from The Paris Review, Issue 57, Spring 1974.
“Darkness and obscurity are banished by artificial lighting, and the seasons by air conditioning. Night and summer are losing their charm and dawn is disappearing. The urban population think they have escaped from cosmic reality, but there is no corresponding expansion of their dream life. The reason is clear: dreams spring from reality and are realised in it.”
— Chtcheglov, 1958, Formulary for a New Urbanism, via K.A.
— Jacques Lacan (a rewriting of René Descartes “I think, therefore I am”).
“Architecture and war are not incompatible. Architecture is war. War is architecture. I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms. I am one of millions who do not fit in, who have no home, no family, no doctrine, no firm place to call my own, no known beginning or end, no “sacred and primordial site.” I declare war on all icons and finalities, on all histories that would chain me with my own falseness, my own pitiful fears. I know only moments, and lifetimes that are as moments, and forms that appear with infinite strength, then “melt into air.” I am an architect, a constructor of worlds, a sensualist who worships the flesh, the melody, a silhouette against the darkening sky. I cannot know your name. Nor you can know mine. Tomorrow, we begin together the construction of a city.”
— Lebbeus Woods, whose erudite theoretical writings on architecture will be missed (May 31, 1940 â€“ October 30, 2012).
— Clarice Lispector, Passion according to G.H.
— You do not need to do anything, just please watch and share this video from the Child Foundation of Iran.
“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”
— Henry Miller
— n. 1. crazy life. 2. life in turmoil. 3. life out of balance. 4. life disintegrating. 5. a state of life that calls for another way of living.
“People don’t really talk to each other at all. They don’t think of something to say, choose the words to express it and then carefully pronounce those words. They use language to disguise meaning as much as to convey it. But other things tell us what they have in mind – and sometimes we have no idea of what they are.’”
— Joseph Kosuth, excerpt from a deliberately anonymous text.
“Nothing that lives is, or can be, rigidly perfect; part of it is decaying, part nascent. The foxglove blossomâ€”a third part bud, a third part past, a third part in full bloomâ€”is a type of the life of this world. And in all things that live there are certain irregularities and deficiencies which are not only signs of life, but sources of beauty.”
â€” John Ruskin, â€œThe Nature of Gothicâ€ in Stones of Venice, 1851-53.
Morning breeze, its fragrance will exhale
The old world will once again youthfully sail.
Tulip will bring a red cup to the meadows
Narcissus’ eyes from poppy will grow pale.
When would nightingale put up with such abuse
In the chamber of the rose cry and wail.
I traded the temple for the tavern, fault me not
Prayer is long and stale, time is frail.
Leave not joy of the now till the morrow
Who can vouch that the morrow, the now shall trail?
Month of Sha’aban put not down the jug of wine
Till the end of ramadan you’ll miss this Holy Grail.
Hold dear all the flowers and commune
Came to be and will whither with a breeze or a gale.
This feast is for friends, O minstrel, play and sing
Sing again, it came thus and went thus, to what avail?
Hafez, for your sake, entered this tale
Walk with him, say farewell, he’ll tear the veil.
â€• Ghazal 164, Hafez. Welcome, the beginning of Spring.
Mia: Don’t you hate that?
Vincent: Hate what?
Mia: Uncomfortable silences. Why do we feel it’s necessary to yak about bullshit? In order to be comfortable?
Vincent: I don’t know. That’s a good question.
Mia: That’s when you know you’ve found somebody really special: you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably share silence.
â€• Pulp Fiction, Mia and Vincent discuss speaking unnecessarily over awkward silences after a pause in their own conversation at Jackrabbit Slim’s. Quit yacking bullshit, embrace the silence.
“We learn that when one looks for too long at reality through critico-ideological glasses, one gets a strong headache: it is very painful to be deprived of the ideological surplus-jouissance.”
— Denial: The Liberal Utopia, by Slavoj Zizek.
I will plant my hands in the garden
I will grow, I know, I know, I know
and swallows will lay eggs
in the hollow of my ink-stained hands.
— Another Birth, by Forough Farokhzad.
Whoever, to your face, such cheerful colours gave
Patience and serenity for poor me can also save
Whoever trained your hair so arrogantly to behave
His grace, such injustice for poor me can also waive.
I gave up my desires on the first day when
Beloved took my heart’s rein and made me his slave.
If there’s no golden treasure, at least satisfied I remain
He who gave that to the king, made this the lot of the knave.
This world, just like a bride, in appearance is glorified
He who gave his life to this, has only dug his own grave.
From now on, I spend my time in nature with rivers & trees
While the breeze, of time of spring, would rant and rave.
Hafiz’s heart was brave, rode hardships wave after wave
Though separations deprave, the King as our healer gave.
— Ghazal 112, Hafez.
â€• In memory of playwright, essayist, poet, dissident, and politician, VÃ¡clav Havel (5th of October 1936 â€“ 18th of December 2011).
â€• an open plea for the widening of the algorithmic ‘gene-pool’ used by the usual suspects. i want the internet to broaden my view of the world, not limit it to an overly individualised experience.
*since updated because apparently profanities are offensive.
**since updated because, sometimes, profanities should be offensive.
The entwined polarity of a simultaneous dark fear of, and sublime desire for, nature and technological progress. Woman: a symbol of these entwined polarities.
— Ruth Hogben for Gareth Pugh SS12, by way of SHOWstudio. Interpretative text by Zaynab Dena Ziari.
— each item, made in the age of relentless mechanical reproduction, is made by hand in London for the note taker, for the appreciator of written accounts and the lover and wearer of objects with a conscious yet understated charm.
Aside from being brilliant at keeping family, friends, and colleagues together in one place, and even more brilliant at confusing all three, Facebook makes/made the internet boring. B-o-r-i-n-g. And I passionately hate feeling bored. This isn’t some kind of subversive act (or maybe it is?), it’s simply a reaction to bordom and perhaps I’ll return when it ceases to be so. Perhaps that bordom ensued as a result of it closing in on itself (Facebooks attempt to contain the internet in a bid to compete with Google. Sheesh. AOL and Compuserve failed for a reason, and yet – lo and behold – it just keeps growing), or it’s a result of unintelligent algorithms reinforcing this boring online world around me, perhaps not. Or perhaps it really just means that I’m boring and unintelligent, perhaps not. But you know what? I don’t particularly have a desire to sit in front of the ‘mirror’ and stare at my own reflection. And you know what else? Once you finally make it outside you can see “all kinds of things you can’t see from the centre”, and you can see all kinds of things when you’re not simply seeing a reflection of yourself.
“You think I’m insane?” said Finnerty. Apparently he wanted more of a reaction than Paul had given him.
“You’re still in touch. I guess that’s the test.”
“Barely â€” barely.”
“A psychiatrist could help. There’s a good man in Albany.”
Finnerty shook his head. “He’d pull me back into the center, and I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” He nodded, “Big, undreamed-of things â€” the people on the edge see them first.”
â€• Interpretative abstract by Zaynab Dena Ziari, all other text extracted from ‘Player Piano’, 1952, by Kurt Vonnegut.
â€• As is the ugly, my friend, as is the ugly. On naturally manufactured, genetically inherited, disguises. The ugly and the beautiful being two of them.
â€• Quoted text from ‘The Aesthetics of Disappearance’, by Paul Virilio.
â€• Excerpt from ‘Detroit, Wild City’, 2010 by Florent Tillon. Interpretative text by Zaynab Dena Ziari.
To talk is to create images that are not objects but evocations from a body of memories that form a transitory series of frames in ones mind.
Your memory is a film, in a constant state of fluidity.
You press play, and talk â€“ and in talking you recreate, a re-creation that forms for itself that subjective representation of an otherwise objective existence. Words, for that reason can never really say what one is trying to say.
â€• Zaynab Dena Ziari
Re-reading. Re-mixing. Re-wording. An investigation into the re-appropriation and manipulation of texts.
Reified and emptied, texts were treated like the lowliest of things. Texts were misunderstood, burned, erased, cut to pieces and destroyed. They were spat, pissed and shat on, tossed into toilets, sewers, fountains, canals, rivers, rubble heaps, garbage dumps, pigsties and charnel houses, and lewdly handled in brothels and inns. Texts were used as door stops, shelf brackets and support, or their contents were modified to represent something new. Books were burnt to destroy their ideas against the Gods, were found in heaps when they had ceased to be relevant to the thinking world, or waited in recycling dumps to be turned into new objects altogether with no memory of their previous lives. In 2010, pieces of texts by Borges, Sontag, Nietzsche, Foucault, Descartes, Vitruvius, and others, were turned into an essay on re-reading by extracting relevant paragraphs and re-piecing them together. And then, in 2011, there was this.
“Degradation followed display. Reified and emptied, the image was treated like the lowliest of things. Images were broken, burned, toppled, beheaded and hanged. They were spat, pissed and shat on, tossed into toilets, sewers, fountains, canals, rivers, rubble heaps, garbage dumps, pigsties and charnel houses, and lewdly handled in brothels and inns. Stone statues were used as cobblestones, keystones and infill, or were modified to represent something new. In 1608, a statue of the Virgin on the clock of the Basel town hall was turned into a personification of Justice simply by removing the Christ child and replacing him with scales. Wooden statues became table ornaments and toys, or were sold on the markets as firewood or distributed free to the poor. In Bern in 1528, images were taken from the church, broken and buried in a hole before the cathedral where they would lie until Judgement Day.
It takes two to make a thing go right. With famous books, the first time is already the second since we approach them already knowing them. The cautious common saying of rereading the classics turns out to be an innocent veracity [Jorge Luis Borges, Some Versions of Homer]. We are always somehow rereading a classic because we have encountered some previous incarnation of it, a refraction, in other stories, texts or versions. What are the many versions if not diverse perspectives of a movable event, if not a long experimental assortment of omissions and emphasis? [Sergio Gabriel Waisman, Borges and Translation, the Irreverence of the Periphery, p.52]
Just about everything has been photoshoped [remix of Susan Sontag, On Photography]. Precisely, it is about what five people think this reality consists of. How an incident happens may reflect nothing about the incident itself, but it must reflect something about the person involved in the happening and supplying the how. Five people interpret an action and each interpretation is different because in the telling and the retelling, the people will reveal not the action but themselves [Donald Richie, The Films of Akira Kurosawa, p.75].
For the first time several months ago, I spent hours looking at the faÃ§ade of the cathedral, but only when I bought a book on the cathedral a week later did I really see it. The photographs enabled me to see in a way that my naked eye could not possibly see the cathedral [Susan Sontag, An Interview with Susan Sontag in Boston Review].
Same, same but different. If no one drawing should singly answer the personal taste, there will yet be found a variety of hints sufficient to construct a new one. I am confident I can convince all that will honor me with their commands that every design can be improved, both as to beauty and enrichment in the execution of it [remix of Master Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director]. Every writer creates his precursors [Jorge Luis Borges, Kafka and his Precursors]. I express unlimited thanks to all the authors that have in the past by compiling from remarkable instances of skill provided us with abundant materials of different kinds. Drawing from them as it were water from springs and converting them to our own purposes we find our own powers of writing rendered more fluent and easy and relying upon such authorities, we venture to produce new systems of instruction [Vitruvius, Ten Books on Architecture, preface 7.10].
The function proper to knowledge is interpreting. Scriptural commentary, commentaries on ancient authors, commentaries on the accounts of travelers, commentaries on legends and fables: none of these forms of discourse is required to justify its claim to be expressing a truth before it is interpreted; all that is required of it is the possibility of talking about it. (…) There is more work in interpreting interpretations than in interpreting things; and more books about books than any other subject [Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, An Archeology of the Human Sciences, p.45].
Multiplication of an icon, far from diluting its cultic power, rather increases its fame and each image – however imperfect – conventionally partakes of some portion of the properties of the precursor [Anthony Hughes, Sculpture and its Reproductions, p.38]. Much roman sculpture is greek in style and subject and most of theses greek-seeming works have been assumed for at least a century to be reproductions of lost works by greek artists. Some now appear to be roman creations and even those that are reproductions are not considered mechanical ones. The theory that they were made with a pointing machine similar to the one invented in the 18th century for making mechanically exact copies has been discredited [Anthony Hughes, Sculpture and its Reproductions, p.8]. This shift entails moving to the more recent revisionist theory that draws attention to the Roman’s programmatic use of repeated, recognizable, often famous but not necessarily greek images. These images announce the use of a particular type of building and were valued for their subject matter rather than their formal or iconographic origins, creators or style [Elaine K. Gazda, The Ancient Art of Emulation: Studies in Artistic Originality and Tradition from the Present to Classical Antiquity, p.10].
A corpse, a dog, a stork, a gold coin, the color red and two dervishes from the mountain village resemble one another completely without it being possible for anyone to say which of them brought its similitude to the other [remix of Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red]. Flesh is a glebe, bones are rocks, veins great rivers, the bladder is the sea and the seven principle organs are the metals hidden in the shafts of minds [Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, An Archeology of the Human Sciences, p.25]. The more images, mediations, intermediaries, icons are multiplied and overtly fabricated explicitly and publicly constructed, the more respect I have for their capacities to welcome, to gather, to recollect meaning and sanctity [Bruno Latour, What is Many Worlds?].
Double the treat, double your pleasure, double your fun. Every lie recreates a parallel world, the world in which its true [remix of Mathew Evans, Solution 11-167 The Book of Scotlands].
It is a frequent habit, when I discover several resemblances between two things, to attribute to both equally, even on points in which they are in reality different, that which I have recognized to be true of only one of them [RenÃ© Descartes quoted by Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, An Archeology of the Human Sciences, p.56]. Combined with this is another perversity, an innate preference for the represented subject over the real one. The defect of the real one is so apt to be a lack of representation. I like things who appear. Then one is sure. Whether they are or not is a subordinate and almost always a profitless question [remix of Henry James, The Real Thing].
A sculpture cannot merely be copied but always only staged or performed. It begins to function like a piece of music whose score is not identical to the piece, the score being not audible but silent. For the music to resound, it has to be performed [Boris Groys, Religion in the Age of Digital Reproduction]. Touched with a hammer as with a tuning fork [Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of Idols, p.4], I cook every chance in my pot [Friedrich Nietzsche, [Thus Spake] Zarathustra, p.118]. Its the real thing.”
“Ambition intoxicates more than fame; desire makes all things blossom, and possession makes them wither away; it is better to dream your life than to live it, even though living it is still dreaming it, albeit less mysteriously and less clearly, in a dark, heavy dream, like the dream diffused through the dim awareness of ruminating beasts.Â Shakespeareâ€™s plays are more beautiful when viewed in a study than when put on in the theatre.Â The poets who have created imperishable women in love have often only ever known humdrum servant girls from taverns, while the most envied voluptuaries are unable to grasp fully the life they lead, or rather the life which leads them.
I knew a young boy of ten, of sickly disposition and precocious imagination, who had developed a purely cerebral love for an older girl.Â He would stay at his window for hours on end to see her walk by, wept if he didnâ€™t see her, wept even more if he did.Â He spent moments with her that were very few and far between.Â He stopped sleeping and eating.Â One day, he threw himself out of his window.Â People thought at first that despair at never getting close to his lady friend had filled him with the resolve to die.Â They learnt that, on the contrary, he had just had a long conversation with her: she had been extremely nice to him.Â Then people supposed that he had renounced the insipid days he still had to live, after this intoxication that he might never be able to experience again.Â Frequent remarks he had previously made to one of his friends finally led people to deduce that he was filled with disappointment every time he saw the sovereign lady of his dreams; but as soon as she had left, his fertile imagination restored all her power to the absent girl, and he would start to long for her again.Â Each time, he would try to find an accidental reason for his disappointment in the imperfect nature of the circumstances.Â After that final interview in which he had, in his already active and inventive fantasy, raised his lady friend to the high perfection of which her nature was capable, and been filled with despair when he compared that imperfect perfection to the absolute perfection on which he lived and from which he was dying, he threw himself out of the window.Â Subsequently, having been reduced to idiocy, he lived for a long time, since his fall had left him with no memory of his soul, his mind, or of the words of his lady friend, whom he now met without seeing her.Â In spite of supplications and threats, she married him, and died several years later, without having managed to make him recognise her.
Life is like this girl.Â We dream of it, and we love what we have dreamt up.Â We must not try to live it: we throw ourselves, like that boy, into a state of stupidity â€“ but not all at once: everything in life deteriorates by imperceptible degrees.Â Within ten years, we do not recognise our dreams, we deny them, we live, like an ox, for the grass we graze on moment by moment.Â And from our marriage with death, who knows of when we will arise as conscious, immortal beings?”
â€” Marcel Proust, ‘Pleasures and Days’.
â€” Paul Ã‰luard
The evolution of the appearance of the progresses of Capitalist thinking is visually translated as an entire city in a perpetual state of unfinished construction.
A detailed radicalisation of the grandiose that equals, not the awful but, the awfully sublime fantasy of our own demise.
— Megalomania, by Factory Fifteen.
“In the same manner as rain falls to the earth, as clouds form in the sky, 54 columns of rain have been erected, beams placed across them, and the resulting structure strung with 2,808 threads of cloud. The result: a highly transparent building that seems to dissolve into the air. I find myself irresistibly drawn to this transparent quality, because architectural space is essentially transparent. by doing so, we might be able to create through architecture the kind of transparency found in nature that until now, architecture has been unable to provide. Such transparency, we surmised, could extinguish the boundary between space as void in which there appears to be nothing, and â€˜structure as frame, in which a clear presence is perceivable. We have endeavoured to think of architecture as something akin to the air that surrounds us, filling space into infinity.”
Architecture as a non-object, architecture as an incident of its own carefully curated existence.
— Quoted text by Junya Ishigami
“What we need to question is bricks, concrete, glass, our table manners, our utensils, our tools, the way we spend our time, our rhythms. To question that which seems to have ceased forever to astonish us. We live, true, we breathe, true; we walk, we go downstairs, we sit at a table in order to eat, we lie down on a bed in order to sleep.
How? Where? When? Why?
Describe your street. Describe another. Compare.”
— Georges Perec, L’Infra-ordinaire.
Though there is a clear, distinguishable, dichotomy between “image” vs. “artefact” and the “temporal” vs. “material”, each is hung in the balance against each other. â€œImageâ€ is close in meaning to a representation, and the â€œartefactâ€ an object that is its tangible opposite; the â€œtemporalâ€ is without substance and the â€œmaterialâ€ is substance.
Endeavouring to discover a value in the “temporal image” in the digital world leads us to discover valuation in further relationships: is the sender close to you/are they famous or popular, are they someone you know, are you the only recipient, is it personal, was a substantial amount of time spent creating it, and so on. Answering yes to all of these questions would lead to the assumption that the “temporal image” is of its highest possible personal valuation. These are much the same kinds of values one might put on the receipt of a hand-written post-card measured against, say, a piece of junk mail addressed to you – clearly, in this case, the material artefact is of less than equal value than the temporal digital image sent by someone you know and with you in mind when they sent it.
Walter Benjamin wrote of the loss of aura through the mechanical reproduction of art, and â€˜auraâ€™ for Benjamin represents the originality and authenticity of a work of art that has not been reproduced. Containing an aura, in other words, bestows upon a piece of work the highest valuation. What happens to ‘aura’ when originality and authenticity become redundant, and reproduction immeasurable? In the digital world with its infinite reproductions, duplication, and copies without loss of quality, we sit as impotent witnesses to this loss, inadequately questioning the (re)discovery of the hidden, or lost, value in the temporal digital image, the representation without substance, and its online methods of propagation that subtract the need for originality, authenticity, and reproduction from the description of its contents – a digitally reproducible representation with substance. An aura for the digitally reproducible.
â€”Â ’The Value of Things: Material Artefacts in a Digital World’, image by Lola Halifa leGrand. ‘The Loss of Aura’, edited from the original text by Zaynab Dena Ziari, May 2011. Published in ‘The Final Word’, by the RCA CA&AD, July 2011.
a hand repeatedly attempting to catch a falling piece of lead is sometimes nothing more than a hand repeatedly attempting to catch a falling piece of lead
â€”Â Richard Serra, ‘Hand Catching Lead’, 1968.
â€”Â The spirit of the moment, describing the intellectual, cultural, ethical, and political climate of an era. There is no such word in the English language for this.
â€”Â That feeling you get when you leave a conversation and think of all the things you could have, and should have, said. There is no such word in the English language for this.
“Degradation followed display. Reified and emptied, the image was treated like the lowliest of things. Images were broken, burned, toppled, beheaded and hanged. They were spat, pissed and shat on, tossed into toilets, sewers, fountains, canals, rivers, rubble heaps, garbage dumps, pigsties and charnel houses, and lewdly handled in brothels and inns. Stone statues were used as cobblestones, keystones and infill, or were modified to represent something new.
It takes two to make a thing go right. With famous books the first time is already the second, since we approach them already knowing them. The cautious, common, saying of ‘re-reading the classics’ turns out to be an innocent voracity. We are always, somehow, re-reading a classic because we have encountered some previous incarnation of it. A refraction in other stories, texts, or versions.”
â€”Â Everything Has Been Photoshopped, Oliver Laric
â€”Â Versions, by Oliver Laric, 2010.
â€”Â Ballet MÃ©chanique, by Fernand Leger, 1924.
â€”Â Yevgeny Zamyatin
â€”Â Elizabeth Diller, â€˜Scanning: The Aberrant Architectures of Diller + Scofidioâ€™.
â€”Â Gareth Pugh, by Ruth Hogben, 2011.
“Historical does not mean retaining or repeating what is old, for this would destroy history. To act in a historical manner means to introduce something new that at the same time continues history.”
â€” Karl Friedrich Schinkel
Architecture? It’s like a language, of sorts, a language of matter used to fill the empty, and add meaning, and symbolic meaning, to the space between the self and the other.
â€• Zaynab Dena Ziari.
“There is only one dream worth having: to live while you are alive and die only when you are dead … To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.”
â€” Arundhati Roy, Come September.
“Radio Host: What’s your latest obsession?
Hank Moody: Just the fact that people seem to be getting dumber and dumber. You know, I mean, we have all this amazing technology, and yet, computers have turned into basically four-figure wank-machines. The internet was supposed to set us free, democratize us, but-but all it’s really given us is Howard Dean’s aborted candidacy and 24-hour day access to kiddie porn. People – they don’t write anymore; they blog. Instead of talking, they text – no punctuation, no grammer – “LOL” this and “LMAO” that. You know, it just seems to me that it’s just a bunch of stupid people pseudo-communicating with a bunch of other stupid people in a proto-language that resembles more what cavemen used to speak than the King’s English.”
â€” Hank Moody, Californication.
â€” Frank Lloyd Wright
In this city, which is loosely mine, loosely his, and loosely yours, life moves at 16 miles per hour.
â€” London, I sometimes think of you.
“The buildings were packaged objects, just as much as album covers or cologne bottles, and the name was the label that signaled how to read the rest of the accoutrements.”
â€” Author Unknown
“We discovered painfully how to see with a million eyes at once, how to feel the texture of the atmosphere with a million wings.”
â€” Olaf Stapledon
Time is a measuring system where we perceive changes and events within its construct. We may call this event in time a moment in time, or of time, and within it we perceive an event in its entirety. It is a changing and amalgamated body that is composed of colours, smells, sounds, movements, textures, communication, all at once it is attached to memory and detached from memory. This moment has neither beginning nor end but rather crescendoes as a sensory and psychological experience of note to the person who is experiencing it. But we take note of it, or we do not, and it still happens. I will even go so far as to term an object an event, a stationary moment. If we can imagine that time is a by-product of the awareness of this moment and its simultaneous attachment to that which has passed, it will be where we see the colours, hear the sounds, and feel the textures, a culmination of all of the senses together, changing, morphing, joining, rupturing, disappearing, appearing. There is a moment where it is present, and a moment when it passes on to the next. Here it becomes a fragment of the past, relegated to the psyche where it is just another part of an amorphous body of memories. â€¨
â€• Zaynab Dena Ziari.
â€œThe construction of situations begins beyond the ruins of the modern spectacle. It is easy to see how much the very principle of the spectacle â€” nonintervention â€” is linked to the alienation of the old world. Conversely, the most pertinent revolutionary experiments in culture have sought to break the spectatorsâ€™ psychological identification with the hero so as to draw them into activity. …The situation is thus designed to be lived by its constructors. The role played by a passive or merely bit-part playing â€˜publicâ€™ must constantly diminish, while that played by those who cannot be called actors, but rather, in a new sense of the term, â€˜livers,â€™ must steadily increase.â€
â€” Guy Debord
Your face is the sound of her dry palm brushing over your skin, moving in waves crashing in and fading away
Her hair is the crackling of fire blazing, trailing, between your fingers
That dims until silent as the bright morning approaches
Her body ablaze in morning light, she burns
Sensing, helplessly, acutely
â€• Zaynab Dena Ziari.
“Tu as tout Ã apprendre, tout ce qui ne s’apprend pas: la solitude, l’indiffÃ©rence, la patience, le silence. Tu dois te dÃ©shabituer de tout: d’aller Ã la rencontre de ceux que si longtemps tu as cÃ´toyÃ©s, de prendre tes repas, tes cafÃ©s Ã la place que chaque jour d’autres ont retenue pour toi, ont parfois dÃ©fendue pour toi, de traÃ®ner dans la complicitÃ© fade des amitiÃ©s qui n’en finissent pas de se survivre, dans la rancoeur opportuniste et lÃ¢che des liaisons qui s’effilochent.”
â€” Georges Perec, Un homme qui dort.
However long or short, however socially constrained or erotically desiring, a kiss is the coming together of two similar but not identical surfaces, the geometry of which softens and flexes when in contact perhaps to deform, a performance of temporary singularities, a union of bedazzling convergence and identification during which time separation is inconceivable yet inevitable. Kissing confounds the division between two bodies, pouring them together temporarily to create new definitions of boundary, loosening the fixity of form and structure, and updating the metric of time. Further, one cannot speak when kissing and hence, while often charged with significance, kissing interrupts how faces and facades communicate, substituting affect and force for representation and meaning. Kissing is the end of faciality.
â€” Sylvia Lavin (via MC)
â€• Zaynab Dena Ziari.
â€• video by Diller, Scofidio and Renfro.
Your face, half tangible, illuminated.
Dully awakening my senses in a vision of skin like fatigued satin reflecting the sun, with eyes that allow the affected to almost perceive itself.
The light casts a shadow and there my senses become new born thoughts and unaware meaning.
So dark, I cannot see.
So light, I cannot see.
My dull senses, an untiring awakening.
â€• Zaynab Dena Ziari.
â€” Oscar Wilde
â€œBehind the smooth surface lake there are no illusory poplars but the intense life of water. Behind the mirror lies the metal with its particular properties. If it is possible to compare our mind with this mirror, this is because its silver coating is represented by the red flow of our desire. In any case, in this unfamiliar apparatus the variation of the images is a far from gratuitous indication of the first phase in the transformationâ€
â€” Pierre Mabille, Mirror of the Marvellous
“The mirror acts as a metaphor for a love affair of such intensity that oneâ€™s own Self vanishes in the mirror of oneâ€™s lover: â€˜I am lost, truly lost, to the reality of a mirror which does not reflect my appearance. Lost to its desires. I view myself as prey. Without a yesterday, without a tomorrow. This pure face starts anew. The most important day of my life, forever’.”
â€” Paul Ã‰luard
â€œThe skin disappoints …
… Clearly the only thing he possesses weighs upon him. It is superfluous since possession and being do not coincide. Possessing it is the cause of misunderstanding in human relations. I have an angelâ€™s skin, but I am a jackal; a crocodile skin, but I am a puppy; I have black skin, but I am white; a womanâ€™s skin, but I am a man. I never have the skin of what I really am. There is no exception to the rule, because I am never what I have.â€
â€” (EugÃ©nie Lemoine-Luccioni, â€˜La Robeâ€™)
“Without memory there would be no recognition – no value systems – no sense of time – and finally, no expectations”
Iran, our thoughts and hearts are with you.
Through every layer, side, and dimension;
Between light and dark, sound and silence, all that is left to do is connect the dots.
The real is that which is outside language, that which resists absolute symbolisation. It is itself. The real is an object of anxiety in that it lacks a form of symbolic mediation. It is (im)possibly (un)attainable.
â€” Jacques Lacan, ‘The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis’, 1954â€“1955.
The rorschach test is a method of psychological evaluation in which the subjects perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analysed using intuitive insight, and complex scientifically derived algorithms. (What do you see?)
“Obscenity begins when there is no more spectacle, no more stage, no more theatre, no more illusions, when everything becomes immediately transparent, visible, exposed in the raw and inexorable light of information and communication. We no longer partake of the drama of alienation, but are in the ecstasy of communication.”
â€” Jean Baudrillard
“When you will have made him a body without organs, then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions and restored him to his true freedom.”
â€” Antonin Artaud, “To Have Done with the Judgment of God” in ‘Antonin Artaud: Selected Writings’, Susan Sontag (ed). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1976, p. 571.
The line is the defining of a dichotomy. There is no dichotomy. If there is no dichotomy, there can be no delineation. There is no line. Without a line, there can be no outside. With no outside there is only the void. The void is the void.
Step into the mirror.
Make the walls speak, remove the walls.
Expose the processes of your r/evolutions on your skin, remove the skin.
You are the projector of your closed little universe.
A million veils fall.
There you are not.
“Hyperreality, which characterises the inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from fantasy, especially in technologically advanced postmodern cultures. Hyperreality characterises the wayÂ consciousness defines what is actually â€œrealâ€ in a world where a multitude of media can radically shape and filter the original event or experience being depicted.”
â€• Jean Baudrillard.
â€œInterpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art. Even more, it is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world — in order to set up a shadow world of ‘meanings’.â€
â€” Susan Sontag
“I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing â€” a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process â€” an integral function of the universe.”
â€” R. Buckminster Fuller
â€œThere is no perception which is not full of memories. With the immediate and present data of our senses, we mingle a thousand details out of our past experience. In most cases these memories supplant our actual perceptions, of which we then retain only a few hints, thus using them merely as â€œsignsâ€ that recall to us former images.â€
â€¨ â€œThere are three processes [in memory formation]: pure memory, memory-image and perception, of which none of them in fact, occurs apart from the others. Perception is never a mere contact of the mind with the object present; i is impregnated with memory-images which complete it as they interpret it. The memory-image, in its turn, partakes of the â€œpure memoryâ€, which it begins to materialise, and of the perception in which it tends to embody itself: regarded from the latter point of view, it might be defined as a nascent perception.
Whenever we are trying to recover a recollection, to call up some period of our history, we become conscious of the unique act by which we detach ourselves from the present in order to replace ourselves, first, in the past in general, then, in a certain region of the past â€“ a work of adjustment, something like the focusing of a camera. But our recollection still remains virtual; we simply prepare ourselves to receive it by adopting the appropriate attitude. Little by little it comes into view like a condensing cloud; from the virtual state it passes into the actual; and as its outlines become more distinct and its surface takes on colour, it tends to imitate perception. But it remains attached to the past by its deepest roots, and if, when once realised, it did not retain something of its original virtuality, if, being a present state, it were not also something which stands out distinct from the present, we should never know it for memory.â€
â€” Bergson, â€˜The Definition of Imagesâ€™ and â€˜Matter and Memoryâ€™
In the multiplicity of writing, everything is to be disentangled, nothing deciphered; the structure can be followed, ‘run’ (like the thread of a stocking) at every point and at every level, but there is nothing beneath: the pace of writing is to be ranged over, not pierced; writing ceaselessly posits meaning ceaselessly to evaporate it, carrying out a systematic exemption of meaning. In precisely this way literature (it would be better from now on to say writing), by refusing to assign ‘a secret’, and ultimate meaning, to the text (and to the world as text) liberates what may be called an anti-theological activity, an activity that is truly revolutionary since to refuse to fix meaning is, in the end, to refuse God and his hypostases – reason, science, law.
(The Death of the Author, Roland Barthes)
â€œHeidegger said that if you were to experience your own being to the full, you would be experiencing the decay of that being toward death as part of your experience.â€
â€¨(Wallace to Andre, in â€˜My Dinner With Andreâ€™)
Is it true? Or would you find yourself, in the pure clarity of each moment, always fixed in the fluidity of the present? There is memory. There is no past, there is no future; there is only now. According to Bergsonâ€™s explanations, our intelligence retains a series of positions as to a question of movement: first one point reached, then another, then still another. But should something happen between these points, immediately the understanding intercalates new positions, and so on indefinitely. It refuses to consider transition. He insists that it is not the â€œstatesâ€, simple snapshots we have taken once again along the course of change, that are real; on the contrary, it is flux, the continuity of transition, it is change itself that is real. This change is indivisible, it is even substantial. Everything is in a state of undeniable flux.
“But we might ask ourselves whether nature is beautiful otherwise than through meeting by chance certain processes of our art, and whether, in a certain sense, art is not prior to nature. … If musical sounds affect us more powerfully than the sounds of nature, the reason is that nature confines itself to expressing feelings, whereas music suggests them to us. … The poet is he with whom feelings develop into images, and the images themselves into words which translate them while obeying the laws of rhythm. … but we should never realise these images so strongly without the regular movements of the rhythm by which our soul is lulled into self-forgetfulness, and, as in a dream, thinks and sees with the poet.”
“We find in architecture, in the very midst of this startling immobility, certain effects analogous to those of rhythm. The symmetry of form, the indefinite repetition of the same architectural motive. … Thus art aims at impressing feelings on us rather than expressing them; it suggests them to us, and willingly dispenses with the imitation of nature when it finds some more efficacious means. … the feeling of the beautiful is no specific feelings, but that every feeling experienced by us will assume an aesthetic character, provided that it has been suggested, and not caused.”
“…in order to perceive a line as a line, it is necessary to take up a position outside it, to take account of the void which surrounds it, and consequently to think a space of three dimensions? … In a word, pure duration might well be nothing but a succession of qualitative changes, which melt into and permeate one another, without precise outlines, without any tendency to externalise themselves in relation to one another, without any affiliation with number: it would be pure heterogeneity. … when you attribute the least homogeneity to duration, you surreptitiously introduce space. … time at first seems to us to be a measurable magnitude, just like space. … If I picture these sixty oscillations to myself all at once by a single mental perception, I exclude by hypothesis the idea of a succession. I do not think of sixty strokes which succeed one another, but of sixty points on a fixed line, each one of which symbolises, so to speak, an oscillation of the pendulum. …without altering the way they are produced in space, I shall be compelled to think of each oscillation to the exclusion of the recollection of the preceding one, for space has preserved no trace of it; but by doing so I shall condemn myself to remain forever in the present; I shall give up the attempt to think a succession or a duration.”
â€œThe skin disappoints. Bursting the sack of skin does not necessarily ensure a good catch. You donâ€™t obtain anymore. However, it does reveal the soul. It is that which is torn, separated, cut, to engender, in a word, the â€˜naturaâ€™ or torn robe. It is all the more overwhelming that man treats this skin so cheaply. Though it means so much to him, he will shed it at the slightest bidding. And even if he is not bidden he wonders how to rid himself of it for he wants to shed his skin. Clearly the only thing he possesses weighs upon him. It is superfluous since possession and being do not coincide. Possessing it is the cause of misunderstanding in human relations. I have an angelâ€™s skin, but I am a jackal; a crocodile skin, but I am a puppy; I have black skin, but I am white; a womanâ€™s skin, but I am a man. I never have the skin of what I really am. There is no exception to the rule, because I am never what I have.â€
(EugÃ©nie Lemoine-Luccioni, ‘La Robeâ€™)
Perfection – in its broadest terms is a state of completeness, a state of flawlessness. The genealogy of the word reaches back to derive itself from the Latin word â€œperfectioâ€, which literally means â€˜to finishâ€™, â€˜to bring to an endâ€™. In Aristotle’s Book of Delta, from â€˜The Metaphysicsâ€™, we are provided with what is known to be the oldest definition of perfection that exists. It is here that Aristotle defines perfection in the following terms: â€œThat is perfect which is complete – which contains all requisite parts; which is so good that nothing could be better; which has attained its purposeâ€. To some extent we still define perfection in such terms, and the idea of completeness in perfection could lead us to the understanding that, therefore, that which is imperfect is exactly the opposite of anything complete – it is incomplete, and it is unfinished. For the ancient Greeks, however, perfection was seen as a single quality that was the requisite for beauty. So it is to say that should an object exist in a state of incompleteness, it does not, and cannot, possess the requisite quality for beauty and so must not be an object of beauty. To the thinking of the 19th Century, and the thinking of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, worldly human perfection might ultimately be attained by everyone, and if not perfection, then at least improvement. This would be the great concept of the modern age. To Kant beauty was something different from perfection. By perfection, he does not mean that it â€˜could not be betterâ€™ as Aristotle did, he means that it is finished. Which in turn implies that the object which is unfinished is therefore imperfect. I am not finished, I am an object, a material surface, of the embodiment of imperfection.
No mystery, no romanticism, and no obscurities about function, no frontiers, just â€˜meatâ€™. This abandonment of concrete as a precise, yet at the same time obscure, material and the embracing of its â€˜trueâ€™ material qualities caused by casting discarded the desire for the rendering over of the imperfections of its surface with plaster or paint, as a woman may use make-up, or have a make-over, in order to disguise her facial imperfections – uneven colour, blemishes, lines, all of which carry the weight of the stories of all kinds of processes. Laughter, sadness, and anger, the emotions that trace themselves back through every line that has become heavily imprinted on the weathered skin. Concrete would start its life as a â€˜messy soup of suspended dust, grits and aggregate…subject to the vagaries of weather and human fallibilityâ€™, and the rough wooden formwork was allowed to impress its grain, displaying knots and blemishes creating the face on the flesh, it was laid in deliberate and carefully-planned patterns which broke the surface into a kind of modern equivalent for rustication that was wearing all the marks of its flawed and imperfect skin.
â€˜Certain pictures, whether modern or ancient, transform the map of the human body and thereby get lost amongst the surreal platitudes of the beliefs the spectator holds concerning his own image. Thus, these works force him to reinvent understanding for just one moment, through the aesthetic momentum produced by their visual subversion of banal perception – in other words they force the spectator to reinvent his intimate discourse about himself and about his world of objectsâ€™.
This imperfect, flawed, skin of the concrete in building is exactly what the economy of cosmetic surgery is turned towards in humans. It is the economy of completeness, and it is exactly the idea of incompleteness that drives us towards the understanding that until we have surgery we are, in effect, unfinished and imperfect. The visual experience of being unfinished is that we are too much ourselves, and too little of the image that will make us complete. And in this completion, we will become perfect. But the image here is made empty by the act of the operation, as we see in the work of the performance artist Orlan. We have a narcissistic phantasy that the face, and the skin that covers it, represents something. â€˜The more I look at you, the more convinced I am that your face has a depth. Not a superficial mask,â€™ says Mark Cousins in one of his lectures on the subject of The Ugly. â€˜We have fantasies about a depth which has been opened up by the surface. It is not immediately localised. Dramatised by a wound, the appearance of meat. This is the moment where I realise that the thing that I thought you were, and thought existed in the form of a depth, less than a millimeter underneath that there is meat. Meat which is non-significant…The ugliness of the face cannot be seen, it can only be read.â€™ The face or surface of the skin signifies an interior to be discovered, a depth to be delved into. If what I perceive on the surface to be imperfect, incomplete, we must assume that when I delve into and beyond the cosmetic, the living leather film that covers you, when the knife pierces that â€˜disappointing sack of skinâ€™ that I am expecting to perceive you internally as I do externally. I wish for the interior of your being to be as incomplete as that which covers you, I am not satisfied to discover that there is nothing more contained inside that heaving sack, behind that blemish stained mask, but blood, bone, and meat. Not only have I willfully pierced the sack of skin, but I have simultaneously pierced the skin of an illusion to discover it slowly deflating before me until it leaves nothing behind but a dry leathery film; I am left to discover a hollow gap between the mask and that which it was covering. Nothing fits into our understanding any longer. The work of the artist Orlan and her operations effectively destroys the distinction between the inside and outside in much the same way. â€˜The inside no longer lies patiently within the outside, contained and stable and a guarantee that the world is just the world. She is not the nested Russian Dolls that lie within each other, nor is she like the anatomical models with their organs dutifully resting under their lids awaiting your prying eyes.â€™
So the concrete is an unfinished surface, and it is too much itself and too little that of the image that would complete it, or that which would perfect it. But it is nonetheless, as the Brutalists intended, true; it disguises nothing behind the mask of itself because it brings it all to the forefront and wears its insides on its outside; it has inverted the natural order of outside over inside. In effect now there is no inside, and there is no outside as it has removed the shroud that previously disguised its reality, that was acting as the mendacious shroud that lay over our perceptions. As Orlan said â€˜the body is both what hides the world from me and what delivers me to the world, it reveals my dependence on others and their hold over meâ€™, she sees the readjustment between the inside and the outside as a question of returning to an image which she felt is more in harmony with what she is inside, perhaps more truthful. The skin always speaks, and we read the vicissitudes on its surface believing that what we read has a depth, but it never really says what it shows. As the buildings, and ourselves, are enveloped in this matter we become prisoners of our own forms, captives of the image that we think we read. We inevitably appear as something other than what we are. But in piercing the skin, and in exposing all the processes and functions in the concrete, something happens to our understanding of the inside and the outside – the frontiers disappear, and the â€˜semiotic capacity of the reader to read begins to break down. The world and our previous understanding becomes illegible.â€™ Inside becomes outside, and outside becomes everything.
When we leave the concrete raw, and when we expose â€˜the scars on the building made by the way that it was castâ€™ we may be able to consider it â€˜to be synonymous with oneâ€™s own physical imperfectionsâ€™. We read it, we do not recognise it, and in our reading it comes closer to us than we wish it to. Rawness is about exposing the process of what a building is about, and as we perceive the process of the creation of a building through the imperfections of its surface it is possible that we could perceive ourselves in this way too, it is a removal of the mendacious skin that covers buildings, and essentially covers us. The process is part of the result, perfect or imperfect, finished or unfinished. If we were to read Semperâ€™s writings on cladding, we will see that his theory contains the idea that the wall retains the traces of its origins in woven textiles through centuries of replication in different materials, and that â€˜the ghost of a long tradition of handcraft may be seen in its ornament and manufactureâ€™. In much the same way we could perceive the skin of the body, that has not been altered by the hands of a surgeon, bearing all of its lines and blemishes retain all the ghosts of ones past. If this is true, then the same applies to untreated concrete, as it does to the human skin that bears the marks of its existence, or its inevitable degeneration. Antonin Artaud, in his â€˜Theatre of Cruelty, stated that â€œin our present state of degeneration it is through the skin that metaphysics must be made to re-enter our minds…violent, physical determination to shatter the false realityâ€ which, he said, lies â€œover our perceptions. The cruelty it takes…to completely strip away their masks and show an audience the truth that they do not want to see.â€ Artaud, who sought to remove aesthetic distance by bringing his audiences into direct contact with the dangers of life by turning the theatre into a place where the spectator is exposed rather than protected from, was a commitment, on his part, to assaulting the senses in order to awaken and free the mind from false realities. Perhaps it was exactly this removal of aesthetic distance in Brutalism that put us, as the spectators, face to face with a truth that we did not wish to see, we experience a kind of cognitive dissonance, as outlined in Freudâ€™s â€˜The Uncannyâ€™, where what we see is familiar yet at the same time foreign. Essentially it is a paradox that causes us to be attracted to and repulsed by what we see at the same time. It was unfamiliar and unreadable, and therefore presented us with a certain fear by directly removing us from the place where our senses and what we knew were protected; removing us from the place where we once accepted the â€˜finishedâ€™ object as a prerequisite for perfection. We are, instead of this, shoved into an unknown place, a place which we cannot read because we have not yet experienced it. It is a place where the incomplete reigns, where the inside and outside are no longer a dichotomy of one another. This incompletion puts us in a state where neither beginning nor end exist, striving for an improvement through the acceptance of all that we do not wish to see in what we are and what materially surrounds us.
Slowly happiness shifts on that hairless, heirless sea.
While happiness was away, the rampant spiders played
and her hair radiated around them like darting flames.
Born at Cleopatra’s feet, a girl, a child.
But most certainly dreaming,
Most certainly being.
The light flopped in violent circles –
Her anguish exposed.
She kneels, a young woman, a child,
Watching Cleopatra from the crystalline foot.
It crumbles over her face.
Happiness is on it’s way
(It’s on it’s way)
(adapted from a piece of text created by a random generator).
I am a girl
â€¨Made of dreams
â€¨Made of bones.
I am memory
â€¨Pure memory in form.
Forgotten my beginning.
â€¨Do not know the end.
Lightning flashes that â€œopen a void, a moment of silence, a question without an answer, provoke a breach without reconciliation where the world is forced to question itself.â€ 1 We work around a de-centering. This de-centering implies that what we are speaking of is something that has no clear definition. The center is the void, and what exists is around it. It is twofold.
So how does one go about delineating, and then make an actualisation with ourselves as the mediator, through text, 2D imagery, or 3D simulation, of the void?
What is the void?
Where does the void stop, and that which is its antithesis begin? Does it even have an antithesis?
“How do we touch a line?”
Is there a line?
The line is the defining of a dichotomy. There is no dichotomy. If there is no dichotomy, there can be no delineation. There is no line
â€• 1. The Archaeology of Knowledge, by Michel Foucault
an excerpt from my dinner with andre.
Imagine a broken glass. In your memory, it was once a complete form that embodied some kind of function, practical or aesthetic. But it hits a hard surface and shatters â€“ it is shattered by a destructive act. The broken glass is no longer an object in its previous state or form. It has assumed a transitory state of being with a potentiality to become a new object, or objects. Right now, right in this very moment, in its shattered and fragmented state, it is a new object. From one state of being to transposing itself into another. This potentiality was previously only an embodied potential before it was shattered and was, seemingly, destroyed. Fragmented pieces are gathered, reconfigured, and stuck back together again. Now a new form comes into being through a creative act rendered possible only by destruction. The opposite of destruction. So an apparently â€˜staticâ€™ object, in its current state, always embodies the potential to be or to become something else through a recomposition that rests on the pivot of destruction.
Creation can come about through the process of destruction. Destruction is a form of creation. They just want to see what will happen when they tear the world apartâ€¦
â€œChaos had advanced. The kitchen was a shambles of broken glass and china. The dining-room was stripped of parquet, the skirting was up, the door had been taken off its hinges, and the destroyers had moved up a floor. Streaks of light came in through the closed shutters where they worked with the seriousness of creators â€“ and destruction after all is a form of creation. A kind of imagination had seen this house as it had now become.â€ (Graham Greene, â€˜The Destructorsâ€™)
Where is my beginning?
Where is my beginning?
With words I continuously try to move backwards, while willing them to carry me forwards.
â€¨I am confronted with the limitations of speech.
â€¨The translations, the words and what they merely represent, become lost in a nowhere somewhere between my mind and my tongue.
I wish you could understand me silently,
â€¨My beginning, the pulse that begins in me just before the spring. Just before my birth.
I am nothing. Not even a memory.
Yet here I am. Neither beginning nor end.
â€¨Lost in a nowhere somewhere between my mind and my tongue.
Zero. It was invented so that we could count and measure unthinkably large, unwieldy numbers It was then that we began to measure space and so time.. Zero (0). Nothingness. It represents from itself, as the source, the vast and endless state of nothing, but the implication of a beginning.
‘When we express ourselves, we say more than we want to
We think we express the individual,
but we express the universal.
I am cold,
It is I who says “I am cold”
But it is not I who is heard
I disappeared between these two moments of speech.
All that remains of me is the man who is cold
and this man belongs to everywhere.
Where do you live?
In language, and I cannot keep quiet.
In speaking, I throw myself into an unknown place
a foreign land.
And suddenly I become in charge of it.
I have to become universal.
To realise, with humility, with caution
by means of my own flesh
the universality I carelessly threw myself into out of thoughtlessness
that is my sole possibility,
that is my sole commandment.
I said that I love.
That is the promise.
I said that I love.’
Memory. The Mind. Attached. Imaginary space.
Photographs. Films. Memory. Detached. Detachable. Imaginary space. Back to the mind again.
Memory. It’s cheap, and continuously getting cheaper. Detachable memory forms have brought a new dimension to an otherwise dimensionless space. But, I believe, thats a whole other story (so expect something on this soon)..
Within the context of cheap memory forms meaning gets reduced to nothing, memory is reduced to nothing when everything is recorded. Memory becomes valueless because every damn single thing has a place for documentation – something I am guilty of myself when you put me in an event and slap a camera in my hand. Perhaps this could even mean that events in our lives become valueless when everything is presented upon the same plane. A call for some serious editing in the future, I think. But when every last mediocre piece of our lives can be saved, frozen in time on an external medium – is it simply to remind us that we exist, and to remind them that we existed.
Stereotypes are essentially what keep us ‘safe’ from one another; they set up boundaries between the ‘us’ and ‘them’. They create imaginary borders based solely upon our ideas of other people. We have this inane desire to put people into boxes, and never cease to be surprised when people play up to our expectations, but are even more stupefied when they don’t. I don’t understand. The cultural set-up of a divided-united city exposes a real lack of social, cultural, and class based integration projected upon NYC. London is certainly starting to sparkle with the familiar dream that continues to inspire Manhattan. An American Dream, perhaps?
Leading to a ghetto-isation of the city through the inclusion of mental stereotypes.
In the first moment maybe nothing was said.
Or maybe it was everything.
It was love
â€¨It was a reconciliation with the old man
â€¨With his breath that you have not yet breathed.
You united your tongue with your voice and you found yourself in one that no longer exists.
Silent. Quiet. Disquiet.
â€¨Refusal of time.
â€¨Silent. Quiet. Serene.
â€¨Reconciliation with time.
In that moment there was only Yes. The source that gave way to another Yes.
It is everything
Visual poetry. Visual poetry that has flux. That’s what Fluxus is, in a nutshell. The visual distinctions, in the first example I saw, were set apart through the use of words that were scattered, and moved around, in a very simplified form, reminiscent of the old commercial used when BBC television would go to sleep for the night. The video is usually created during a performance. It wasn’t exactly using moving images as poetic representations, as the limitations of my understanding permitted, but was of a more graphic design nature. Dispersal of broken words with interesting fonts to an irregular beat, did not necessarily match the soundtrack, though were somehow symbiotic in nature. There was no expression of poetic structures and destructions to embody a sense of depth and form. Perhaps the architect in me needed it (or wanted it) to be more spatial, to derive more and more meaning from the poetry itself, its rhythms, structures, formations, the semantics of words used, and use strategic positioning and forms of the words themselves to illustrate, or emphasize, the meaning, a bit like the forms of Concrete Poetry. Here though it is essentially a montage, a rigid symbiosis of words and images, without depth or form, to pleasing effect. But I definitely need to understand more..
(from the fluxus heidelberg center)
Serenity isÂ confronted byÂ the moribund dominanceÂ ofÂ these corpses of solid skin.
â€¨Confronted by the constant noise from transient objects.
â€¨You do not see.
â€¨Confronted by dirt.
â€¨You very almost coalesce.
â€¨Silent. You have found your niche.
â€• (somewhere in Marseille; somewhere under the Waterloo Bridge)
Surrender reason to the heart.
Here, I fall away
And in my falling, in my rest, I reveal the secrets composed by my body
That existence that limits the world
That ends my sentences before they have begun, that is
The division in the indivisible, but
The rhythm in the stanza
The art in the word
The poetry in the image.
Surrender. The heart in my voice. The reason in my heart. Surrendered.
And as I fall away from my silent yielding that speaks in rhythms,
In sentences without end, I am lost in the passing breath of the eternal repose of our bodies.
And I compose for you images through the word.
After a short but thought provoking conversation with a new friend at an old friends birthday dinner it was brought to light, with the slightest hint of disbelief in his choice of words, that the Austrian church requests a mandatory tax from all working Christians. It got me thinking about religion, and why I said “no” to being of a religion.
Religion, in linguistic terms, could either be understood as faith, hopefulness, or optimism for a higher being; or it (they) could fall into being construed in real terms as ideology, which simply makes it a theorisation in the differing guises of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Taoist, Zoroastrian, etc. So, I was of course somewhat surprised to hear that it was mandatory for all Christian residents of the country to pay this tax. Being under the assumption, within the confines of the restrictions of my own way of thinking, that to give is to give of choice, and to give of your heart – not necessarily of your bank balance. Not to mention, should you be one who does not pay, you may then potentially be outcast in the heretic nature of not following the mass. The beauty of giving of oneself, or ones numbers, lies in the choice of giving as in the choice to receive. Of course, it followed that I was then asked if I had a religion, a natural progression of a nature that I have grown accustomed, and completely understand. My reply was a plain and simple “no”, and though I am not against religion per se, and do believe that if pure (whatever that means) it could be an intrinsic part of society as long as it goes hand in hand with mutual respect for one anothers life choices, based on a policy of ‘live, and let live’. But I digress. Maybe my answer was too finite. No. It is definitely too finite, the fabricated world is not black and white, therein existing a whole spectrum from all extremes. It puts an end where one may discover that there may not, or should not, be one – like ending a sentence before its completion. So my thoughts begin like this…
My religion is in here (pointing to my head), in here (pointing to my heart), in life wanting life – in ‘my’ trinity, not that of the Christian, Muslim, Zoroastrian, whatever, Godhead. My religion is in my movement, in my actions, in my thoughts, and interactions; in the sun that gives life to me, and the darkness that takes it away. I am the light and the dark, the good and the bad, I am the choice. My religion comes from my roots, from my soul, the root and only root, and it is with a liquidity that travels forward reforming forms and significance, and like the wind it cannot be caught. It has no physical embodiment save the moments that my speechless, silent, ‘soul’ full of emptiness speaks with another soul. And this has no name.
I do not pass through the doors of a Church to kneel before the image of Christ, or to worship a God of linguistic fabrication. To give God a name, is to create in the unphysical a physicality and to fail to see the simple fact of words: to follow the linguistic theory of Saussure, they are signifiers and not the signified. Words fail us again, and will continue to fail here. So, if I pass through any doors it will be the doors of my own ‘soul’, where I am to kneel before the nothing that exists within me with the highest of respect. The nothing of the all. Of which you, and I, him and her, are one.
…’What is an object?..
Perhaps it is a link enabling us to pass from one subject to another, therefore to live together. But since social relations are always ambiguous. Since thought divides as much as it unites. Since words unite or isolate by what they express or omit. Since an immense gulf separates my subjective awareness from the objective truth I represent for others. Since I constantly blame myself, though I feel innocent. Since every event transforms my daily life. Since I constantly fail to communicate. Since each failure makes me aware of solitude … since … Since I cannot escape crushing objectivity or isolating subjectivity. Since I cannot rise to the state of being, or fall into nothingness, I must listen, I must look around more than ever. The world … my kin … my twin.
The world alone today when revolutions are impossible and wars threaten me. When capitalism is unsure of its rights and the working class retreats when the lightning progress of science brings the future terribly near. When the future is closer than the present. When the distant galaxies are at my door … my kin, my twin …
Where is the beginning?
But what beginning?
‘God created heaven and earth’. But one should be able to put it better. To say the limits of language, of my language are those of the world, of my world, and that in speaking I limit the world, I end it. And when mysterious, logical death abolishes these limits there will be no question, no answer, just vagueness. But if things come into focus again this can only be through the rebirth of conscience. Everything follows from this’…
To talk is to create images that are not objects but evocations of memory to form a transitory series of frames in ones mind. Always in a state of fluidity. To talk is to recreate, a recreation that forms for itself a subjective representative of an otherwise objective existence. Words, for this reason, can never really say what one is really trying to say.
(in reference to two or three things i know about her)
these words pass through you before they reach your ears
history goes, breathing it’s life through me
through laughter and fading ink, finger tips, and the seasons that fade in and out of one another in a straight line and perpetual breath
it dances through the leaves of trees
and kisses the heads of the sleeping and awake
these are not my words
they have been inked onto my body
as each curve that wraps itself endlessly
thin threads weaving a web connecting me to other life,
yet another breath
you tell your story through me, and i through you
through each salty tear, smile, touch
each bend in the road that dances freely,
creating forms and patterns it will never know it makes
each bonding of the void between our bodies, and the weaving web
connecting you to all in thin threads
you continue your slow, determined, tale
and the leaves quiver in time with the gentleness of your enduring movements.
“perhaps it will be necessary to formulate the idea of a precision instrument, concretely visualizing it, in order to undertake a rigorous inner analysis. and it will surely be necessary to reduce the mind to some kind of real matter with a space for it to exist in. all of this depends on an extreme refinement of our inner sensations, which, when taken as far as they can go, will doubtless reveal or create in us a space just as real as the space that is occupied by material things and that, come to think of it, has no reality.
for all I know, this inner space may just be a new dimension of the other one. perhaps scientific research will eventually discover that everything is dimensions of the same space, which is neither physical nor spiritual, so that in one dimension we live as bodies and in another as souls.”
you, of rejection
you destroy me so that they can no longer remember
you break me down because you think they will forget
you resent this humble earth that covers my remains
and wish to submerge our untold secrets with your tainted intent
drowning of our secrets, drowning of our name
the life of me runs through them
a life always routing itself towards tomorrow
they will hold the sun within their mouths to shed light on everything unknown
on everything untold
will be told
will be told with each tomorrow
our sun will dry your drowning waters
to bring back the day
to bring back the land
the light within their mouths will kiss the flame onto tomorrow
so that they will always remember
so that they will never forget
so she goes to embrace her parents
and this is why she embraces her name
they tell the secret, the secret story of where she came
with each memory
each connection to our beginning
each bond of the light within our mouths
we become heirs to the light
we, of the light
Note: Pasargad, Iran, home to the ancient tomb of Cyrus the Great – the founding father of the first known Declaration of Human Rights – is under threat by the flooding of the Sivand Dam by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Hundreds of unexcavated archealogical sites in the Bolaghi Gorg (Tang-e Bolaghi) will be completely emersed by water from the dam, set to flood that whole area. It is also thought that the change in moisture levels in the air will damage the ruins of Persepolis, the palace of the ancient Iranian Empire, by speeding up the decomposition of the limestone that it is made from. These are important living pieces of history for the whole world and both Pasargad and Persepolis are world heritage sites. Please show your support against the filling of Sivand Dam and the flooding of these places of antiquity by signing the online petition. See below for more information on the dam, the effects, and the committee organised to put a stop to this. Remember the beautiful Buddhas of Bamyan…
[this poem was completed on the 8th of december, 2005. it was written for a documentary to be shown on an LA based iranian tv channel (channel 1) about the construction of the sivand dam. click here to sign the petition]
…farsi translation at save pasargad
…english at save pasargad
on june 22nd, 2007, i attended one of a series of debates, being held in the turbine hall at the tate modern, as part of the global cities exhibition, to discuss the future of london. that nights debate asked the question ‘is london a united city?’. it was the usual set up, a chairman (the very witty hardeep singh kohli), the panel, an audience, and the floor, who were sat – some lying – on cushions on the floor of the giant concrete slope of the turbine hall. it set a relaxed scene, and illustrated one of the many uses for the massive void that makes the hall. a place for assemblage, discussion, connections, over art. but, on to the debate itself..
the panel was highly opinionated when it came to the subjects of the economy and the state of housing, and these as driving forces for the economic and class polarization that they believed to be an imminent future for london. this type of polarization is definitely occuring in the borough of tower hamlets, where we have one of the poorest boroughs in the country, with some of the poorest people, living on the doorstep of canary wharf (one of the fastest growing economic centres) and a new portion of wealthy people. this certainly dealt with ’cause and effect’. cause being the disparity in class and economics, and the effect being that the two sides live on one anothers door-steps but understand very little about one another. the panelists did not tackle the current state of unity, or what could be done about the future state of unity if things continue down the road that they are on, which was slightly disappointing. but the general feeling from the floor was that london does not have enough platforms to encourage social integration. rich people were ‘arrogant’ and the poor their target, and there are ‘not enough green spaces’. (this was the generalised opinion; however true it may be would need properly researching).
but arrogant or modest, green spaces or not, would you say it is united? as a whole? can we permeate any portion of the cities many parts if we so wish? or is it simply disparate groups of people unified in their own peculiar similarities, permeable only if we embody a similar peculiarity? if there is unity, where and how does it occur? are we unified in difference? .. culture, origins, class, fashion, accent, locality, appearance, age, gender, sexuality, income .. does all this make a difference to your experience of london and how you fit into it as a unified organism… ?
thats if it is a unified organism.
after living here all my life, though my childhood idealism of an urban utopia would probably have a differing opinion, i would be inclined to say that the new reality of london (but not necessarily ‘londoners’ like myself) is one comprised of a set of ‘disparate groups unified under their own peculiar similarities’. these groups seem to live side-by-side in relative harmony, and if you smile at a person they will smile back. but we tend to join forces because we “have something in common”. though if there is nothing or nowhere to bring us together (i.e. places of social gathering, schools, community centres, green spaces, etc.), to encourage us to break invisible boundaries, too institutionalised in our nature to be broken by a smile, then we are left standing only amongst those with qualities that we recognise in ourselves. oh how boring. and what an alarming glimpse of future.
(favela morumbi, sao paulo, brazil)
The amazing roar of nothingness when you close your eyes
Where there, there, is some kind of greatness to being
To touching the raw surfaces shrouding silence in a fury of beauty and confusion
You, surrounded by thousands of mouths and movements expelling various expressions forming veils like stirring clouds, an expanse of rousing silk,
Layer upon layer until there is form,
The hint of a shape.
The amazing roar of nothingness when you close your eyes
You, an accessory to nothingness.
You, the ornamented mantle of quiet.
Spark the sun
The sun within my mouth
Steeped in burning colours
Drowning in you
Drowning in your colour
“by tattooing walls you free them from architecture and turn them once again into living social matter, into the moving body of the city before it has been branded with functions and institutions”
the solidity of a piece of architecture becomes fluid, it is concealed by a fabric which can be removed (by some kind of chemical agent) and then replaced, added to, or amended. like a piece of clothing covering the body, the significance of the exterior membrane of this architecture is determined by time, by its fluidity, by its ability to change and be changed.
have they passed themselves tonight?
illusive beauty and its enchanting face consumes the air with darkened fog
in your minds you are fragmented, split between your enchantment and what your eyes cannot see
beyond your facade
through the fog
through the night
you do not know if you have passed you
you do not even know if you exist beyond the illusive beauty of this bodies enchantment
if you are fragmented, split between you and you?
you consume pallid lovers
within the mouth of starvation
fainting to the image of your face
never knowing if what you hungered for was ever satisfying your poor and empty body.
the soft sigh of the rising sun echoes to and from you
as it goes to, we melt into one in the dream of the eternal day
if you can catch the light
we could melt into one in its reality
so we will fade into the shadow
and the soft sigh of the setting sun echoes, fades
the light you caught will keep us
the day goes on forever and the night never ends
remember me as the moment when the sun arises
forget me in the moment that it sets
i am left without covering
the sun sighing from my naked body
and i stand for a lifetime
without knowing that each sigh is tied to the heart of a bird
each thread breaking as its wings touch the night.
carried on the wings of winter winds
and her slowly yielding belly is heaving with life
the weight of her time bears down on the branch of the naked apple tree
you read the same story into the next lifetime
next, it reads you
The wind will carry you
To a place where small hands paint pictures of dreams
In the vivid colours of the wings of birds in flight, flying present
Coming ahead to a place to carry you to the unfamiliar
To a dream you have never seen
Where your feet draw the warmth of the soft papery sand, with eyes intent upon the ground
Wishing to become a sheet of paper,
Wishing to become the ground,
So you can write yourself upon your own sandy body
Then the wind comes to carry you away
Until there is nothing left but a blank sheet of paper
And no pen to write with
I saw a man sat in the hollow of a doorway about 30cm deep, near my home. It was daytime. I was going out. I thought no more of him.
9 months later, it was night time. I was coming home. The man was still sat there, in the hollow of the doorway. It was as if he had not moved, frozen in one position with his head resting on his knees, his hands hugging his legs that faced the door frame, and the subtle hunch of his back almost, but not quite, resting on the frame to the other side.