A philosophy of sorts

 

I’m interested in the symbol and figure as non-linguistic entity. I believe language and figuration are opposed to each other and that the symbol is closer to the abstract than it is to signification/representation. The premise for my work may consequently be understod as being in opposition to the assumption that the symbol/figuration is a form of language, language-like, and not rarely considered as a cruder form of language – in short, that it re-presents. This is of course not a mistake that happens in terms of art specifically, rather the terms of art is specifically apt to withstand a habit that  is more or less universal. We can recognize this same mistake when speaking about ‘body language’, for example, since the very term implies that we misconstrue bodily interaction to be a form of language. 

This means a habit of conceiving life as language when the opposite approach is the logically valid premise. Abstraction, figuration ‘inventing’ symbols and playing with existing symbols means to undermine this ‘gaze of language’. Because truly nothing in the realm of the senses is ever less than immediate. Nothing really re-presents: everything perceived is presented to us. Therefore I need not argue that a figuration in art should be understood as abstract rather than signifying something else: if you think otherwise, you need to explain how a figuration can re-present. The burden of proof is not mine. 

Usually we have it all backwards. We assume re-presentation and try to understand the seeming riddle, ‘why something re-presents’. How can it be that this drawing of a hippopotamus looks just like a hippopotamus?! It seems bafflingly realistic… In truth only a madman would compare a drawing to a full fledged living animal that could kill you merely by sitting down in your couch while not noticing that you’re already taking a nap in it. So no, the drawing does not look like anything other than a drawing. 

Photography is even worse in this sense. IKEA can use photographs to show how their furniture looks but for some reason cannot use furniture to show how their photographs look! Why not then, if they’re so similar? It would literally be the same assumption at work in both cases. Only the gaze of language makes us believe that the photograph isn’t a thing in its own right, while furniture are.

When you listen to people speaking a language you don’t understand, isn’t it more like a kind of music? Now, listen to a language you do understand: where did the music go? You don’t hear it anymore but it didn’t disappear – you just stopped listening to it. You heard a presentation and you instinctively and immediately covered it up with another presentation. We’re constantly in a state of choosing between life as it appears to our bodily senses and life as language, and they cannot be combined. There is the music of life and there is the signification of language. I’m trying to make that choice visible, heaven knows I can’t force you to see the music.