Michel Foucault

 

This is Not a Pipe

Foucault, Michel. “This is Not a Pipe.”, edited by James Harkness. Quantum Books, 2008.

Original Publication: Ceci n’est pas une pipe

Excerpt – Chapter 6: Non-affirmative Painting.

Separation between linguistic signs and plastic elements; equivalence of resemblance and affirmation. These two principles constituted the tension in classical painting, because the second reintroduced discourse (affirmation exists only where there is speech) into an art from which the linguistic element was rigorously excluded. Hence the fact that classical painting spoke – and spoke constantly – while constituting itself entirely outside language; hence the fact that it rested silently in a discursive space; hence the fact that it provided, beneath itself, a kind of common ground where it could restore the bonds of signs and the image. Magritte knits verbal signs and plastic elements together, but without referring them to a prior isotopism. He skirts the base of affirmative discourse on which resemblance calmly reposes, and he brings pure similitudes and nonaffirmative verbal statements into play within the instability of a disoriented volume and an unmapped space. A process whose formulation is in some sense given by Ceci n’est pas une pipe.

  1. To employ a calligram where are found, simultaneously present and visible, image, text, resemblance, affirmation and their common ground.
  2. Then suddenly to open up, so that the calligram immediately decomposes and disappears, leaving as a trace only its own absence.
  3. To allow discourse to collapse of its own weight and to acquire the visible shape of letters. Letters which, insofar as they are drawn, enter into an uncertain, indefinite relation, confused with the drawing itself – but minus any area to serve as a common ground.
  4. To allow similitudes, on the other to multiply of themselves, to be born from their own vapour and to rise endlessly into an ether where they refer to nothing more than themselves.
  5. To verify clearly, at the end of the operation, that the precipitate has changed colour, that it has gone from black to white, that the “This is a pipe” silently hidden in the mimetic representation has become the “This is not a pipe” of circulating similitudes.

A day will come when, by means of similitude relayed indefinitely along the length of a series, the image itself, along with the name it bears, will lose its identity. Campbell, Campbell, Campbell.

truth

Truth is a major theme in Foucault’s work, in particular in the context of its relations with power, knowledge and the subject. He argues that truth is an event which takes place in history. It is something that ‘happens’, and is produced by various techniques (the ‘technology’ of truth) rather than something that already exists and is simply waiting to be discovered. Foucault argues that ‘the effect of truth’ he wants to produce consists in ‘showing that the real is polemical’. Foucault further notes that he is not interested in ‘telling the truth’, in his writing; rather, he is interested in inviting people to have a particular experience for themselves.
– Clare O’Farrell 2007

 

The Archæology of Knowledge

… These problems may be summed up in a word: the questioning of the document. Of course, it is obvious enough that ever since a discipline such as history has existed, documents have been used, questioned, and have given rise to questions; scholars have asked not only what these documents meant, but also whether they were telling the truth, and by what right they could claim to be doing so, whether they were sincere or deliberately misleading, well informed or ignorant, authentic or tampered with. But each of these questions, and all this critical concern, pointed to one and the same end: the reconstitution, on the basis of what the documents say, and sometimes merely hint at, of the past from which they emanate and which has now disappeared far behind them; the document was always treated as the language of a voice since reduced to silence, its fragile, but possibly decipherable trace. Now, through a mutation that is not of very recent origin, but which has still not come to an end, history has altered its position in relation to the document: it has taken as its primary task, not the interpretation of the document, nor the attempt to decide whether it is telling the truth or what is its expressive value, but to work on it from within and to develop it: history now organises the document, divides it up, distributes it, orders it, arranges it in levels, establishes series, distinguishes between what is relevant and what is not, discovers elements, defines unities, describes relations. The document, then, is no longer for history an inert material through which it tries to reconstitute what men have done or said, the events of which only the trace remains; history is now trying to define within the documentary material itself unities, totalities, series, relations. History must be detached from the image that satisfied it for so long, and through which it found its anthropological justification: that of an age-old collective consciousness that made use of material documents to refresh its memory; history is the work expended on material documentation (books, texts, accounts, registers, acts, buildings, institutions, laws, techniques, objects, customs, etc.) that exists, in every time and place, in every society, either in a spontaneous or in a consciously organised form. The document is not the fortunate tool of a history that is primarily and fundamentally memory; history is one way in which a society recognises and develops a mass of documentation with which it is inextricably linked.

To be brief, then, let us say that history, in its traditional form, undertook to ‘memorise’ the monuments of the past, transform them into documents, and lend speech to those traces which, in themselves, are often not verbal, or which say in silence something other than what they actually say; in our time, history is that which transforms documents into monuments. In that area where, in the past, history deciphered the traces left by men, it now deploys a mass of elements that have to be grouped, made relevant, placed in relation to one another to form totalities. There was a time when archaeology, as a discipline devoted to silent monuments, inert traces, objects without context, and things left by the past, aspired to the condition of history, and attained meaning only through the restitution of a historical discourse; it might be said, to play on words a little, that in our time history aspires to the condition of archaeology, to the intrinsic description of the monument.

This has several consequences. First of all, there is the surface effect already mentioned: the proliferation of discontinuities in the history of ideas, and the emergence of long periods in history proper. in fact, in its traditional form, history proper was concerned to define relations (of simple causality, of circular determination, of antagonism, of expression) between facts or dated events: the series being known, it was simply a question of defining the position of each element in relation to the other elements in the series. The problem now is to constitute series: to define the elements proper to each series, to fix its boundaries, to reveal its own specific type of relations, to formulate its laws, and, beyond this, to describe the relations between different series, thus constituting series of series, or ‘tables’: hence the ever-increasing number of strata, and the need to distinguish them, the specificity of their time and chronologies; hence the need to distinguish not only important events (with a long chain of consequences) and less important ones, but types of events at quite different levels (some very brief, others of average duration, like the development of a particular technique, or a scarcity of money, and others of a long-term nature, like a demographic equilibrium or the gradual adjustment of an economy to climatic change); hence the possibility of revealing series with widely spaced intervals formed by rare or repetitive events. The appearance of long periods in the history of today is not a return to the philosophers of history, to the great ages of the world, or to the periodisation dictated by the rise and fall of civilisations; it is the effect of the methodologically concerted development of series. In the history of ideas, of thought and of the sciences, the same mutation has brought about the opposite effect; it has broken up the long series formed by the progress of consciousness, or the teleology of reason, or the evolution of human thought; it has questioned the themes of convergence and culmination; it has doubted the possibility of creating totalities. It has led to the individualisation of different series, which are juxtaposed to one another, follow one another, overlap and intersect, without one being able to reduce them to a linear schema. Thus, in place of the continuous chronology of reason, which was invariably traced back to some inaccessible origin, there have appeared scales that are sometimes very brief, distinct from one another, irreducible to a single law, scales that bear a type of history peculiar to each one, and which cannot be reduced to the general model of a consciousness that acquires, progresses, and remembers.

  • Source:The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969), publ. Routledge, 1972. Excerpt from the first 3 chapters of main body of work.

 

 

 

Studies of Scale, pt2

Experiment 3, Moving towards complexity…

Aim: to add more elements without compromising the overall aesthetic.

Awareness of; starting points when joining structures (as determines curvature & can cause kinks/deformation)

Size, length & density of tubes in relation to layers

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3mm, 2 of 4 layers

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3mm & 4mm layers, 5 of 8 sides

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3mm & 4mm layers, 7 of 8 sides, Left: the free-standing form, Right: underside of form
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3mm, 4mm & 6mm layers, 10 of 12 sides

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3mm, 4mm & 6mm layers, 11 of 12 sides, Free-standing height of approx 30cm

Notes: No colour shift within the dispersal section allows for the form of these sections to aesthetically merge into one another.

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3mm, 4mm & 6mm layers, 11 of 12 sides, Free-standing height of approx 30cm
Left: front-view, Right: side-view

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3mm, 4mm & 6mm layers, 11 of 12 sides, Flattened, Top-down view

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3mm, 4mm & 6mm layers, 12 of 12 sides, Top-down view

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3mm, 4mm & 6mm layers, 12 of 12 sides, Side-views, Approx. 30cm free-standing height

 

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Studio View, University of Newcastle, Mon, April 18th, 2016

Studies of Scale, pt 1

Notes on studio practice, exploring architectural ‘form-finding’ experiments & scaling.

Questions: What is the relationship between hook size and thread density? How does it impact upon the aesthetic of the form and it’s structural integrity?

Experiment 1;

Carapace

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Reflections;

Radius of 12, Hexagonal Division Prism

Construction begins from the centre and moves outwards as larger layers are woven and incorporated into the structure. The design is self similar as it moves from one scale to the next, however the centre piece is inverted to show what the ‘underside’ of the outer form might look like. During the construction of the centre piece, the form was initally self-standing and became morphed (and in some respects de-formed) from the addition of outer layers. Notably the 2nd, outer devision of the 2nd internal layer pulled the previously freestanding upward centre chords towards the back of the structure. Variables such as the length of the chord between the layers, along with the staring and ending points for the logarithmic spiral constructions (I sometimes refer to these as ‘pannels’) are factors which effect this morphing of the ‘final’ structure.

These elements pertaining to the relationships between aspects of self-similar crocheted froms has lead to a further detailed study which attempts to mitigate these factors. The observations are subtle progressions towards a better understanding of the material language of the practice. This knowledge will in turn inform material studies on larger scales as I continue to adapt structural designs for large-scale applications.

 

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Colour & Affect

What effect does the cerebral material with which my mind engages while i work have upon the practice? In the case of Carapace, the colours are inspired by a particularly visceral scene in “Words of Radiance” by Brandon Sanderson, describing a chasm creature’s thick shell scraping against rocks. The word “carapace” was interesting to me and after some googling I found myself looking at crab shells. I started to think about the tension, or maybe irony, in depicting a “shell” or “carapace” – which is a hard thing – in a soft material. I decided to apply the concept within the work, echoing the concept of a fleshy centre and hard outer shell in the colours & (to some extent) textures of the work.
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*Note. To ensure as much ‘sameness’ in these ‘self-similar’ forms as possible colour continuity is of primary importance. As a result factors of colour availability are taken into account when determining gradients. If there is not enough of a material to be used x times over throughout the different panels, then i will re-engineer the colour pallet.
Experiment 2:

Prism Abstractions

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Sample Study 1:

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2.5mm hook, 12 nodes, Tetrahedron/Equilateral Triangle division.

 

Sample Study 2:

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2.5mm hook, Open Cube Construction, 5 of 6 sides

 

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2.5mm hook, Closed Cube Construction, 6 of 6 sides

 

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2.5mm & 3.5mm layers, Closed/Open Cube Construction, 8/12 sides

 

 

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2.5mm & 3.5mm layers, Closed/Open Cube Construction, 9/12 sides

 

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Sample Study 3:

Tetrahedron/Cube Abstraction

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2mm & 3mm layers, Tetrahedron division embedded within Cube division

Texture aims to emulate ‘shininess’ coming out of the ‘fuzzyness’

Thicker tubes leads to immediate increase in structural stability

Interesting to observe how the size of the tube sits in relation to the dispersal point and dispersion radius.

Dispersion radius determines how internal section sits, for example whether the components are pulled inwards or outwards from the centre.

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Sample Study 4:

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2mm construction, tetrahedron division

 

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Sample Study 4 embedded in Sample Study 1

 

Sample Study 5:

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3mm, 4mm & 6mm layers, Cube Division

 

 

 

 

Studio Olafur Eliasson

?

I like to believe that the main part of my work lies in the experience of it.
And the thing that is exhibited or displayed?

It’s rather just a kind of machine.

An experience machine?

Yes!

And if nobody sees the machine?

Then there is no experience and therefore no work – and I would be a mechanic instead of an artist. Although I don’t distinguish too much these days. An artist can be many things – an entrepreneur, policy­maker, activist, researcher, a gardener of sorts.

 

The Experience Machine

The Artist Interviews Himself, 1995/2015

Originally sent as a fax to Christiane Schneider, 5 December 1995, by Olafur Eliasson, and expanded in January 2015

 

Do art and experience go hand in hand?

Even attempting to answer this question would instantly put me into a totally predefined way of thinking.
Ha! The young artist speaking. A lot has happened to the concept of experience during the last de­ cade. It’s been hijacked by the experience indus­ try, commercialized, packaged, and offered for sale and consumption. We artists need to reclaim it by showing trust in the viewers and in the users of art. Experience doesn’t simply arrive from outside; it’s a meeting up of interior and exterior.

 

 

 

 

 

…Giving people access to data most often leaves them feeling overwhelmed and disconnected, not empowered and poised for action. This is where art can make a difference. Art does not show people what to do, yet engaging with a good work of art can connect you to your senses, body, and mind. It can make the world felt. And this felt feeling may spur thinking, engagement, and even action.

…Engaging with art is not simply a solitary event. The arts and culture represent one of the few areas in our society where people can come together to share an experience even if they see the world in radically different ways. The important thing is not that we agree about the experience that we share, but that we consider it worthwhile sharing an experience at all. In art and other forms of cultural expression, disagreement is accepted and embraced as an essential ingredient. In this sense, the community created by arts and culture is potentially a great source of inspiration for politicians and activists who work to transcend the polarizing populism and stigmatization of other people, positions, and world views that is sadly so endemic in public discourse today.

Why Art Has the Power to Change the World 

Blog post from January 23rd, 2016 by Olafur Eliasson as part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and The World Economic Forum to mark the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2016 (in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Jan. 20-23)

Joana Vasconcelos

“The nature of Joana Vasconcelos’ creative process is based on the appropriation, decontextualisation and subversion of pre-existent objects and everyday realities. Sculptures and installations, which are revealing of an acute sense of scale and mastery of colour, as well as the recourse to performances and video or photographic records, all combine in the materialization of concepts which challenge the pre-arranged routines of the quotidian. Starting out from ingenious operations of displacement, a reminiscence of the ready-made and the grammars of Nouveau Réalisme and pop, the artist offers us a complicit vision, but one which is at the same time critical of contemporary society and the several features which serve the enunciations of collective identity, especially those that concern the status of women, class distinction or national identity. From this process there derives a speech which is attentive to contemporary idiosyncrasies, where the dichotomies of hand-crafted/industrial, private/public, tradition/modernity and popular culture/erudite culture are imbued with affinities that are apt to renovate the usual fluxes of signification which are characteristic of contemporaneity.”

Via the Artist’s website

 

 

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Piano Dentelle, 2008-2011

Steingraeber & Söhne baby grand piano, piano stool, handmade cotton crochet

100 x 150 x 206 cm

A grand piano and the stool which accompanies it are harmoniously covered with delicate crochet-work, with an almost kinetic and psychedelic effect, reflecting and reinterpreting, in the light of contemporaneity, concepts and practices which have fallen out of use. The use of a traditionally feminine work technique in the action of protecting, decorating and covering the whole of a musical instrument surpasses old-fashioned concepts and affirms the validity of the meeting between the traditional and the contemporary, the popular and the erudite.

 

via the artist’s website 

 

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MARILYN (PA), 2011

Stainless steel pans and lids, concrete
(2x) 290 x 157 x 410 cm

 

The Hall of Mirrors, where sumptuous ceremonies and important events in the history of France were staged, hosts Marilyn, an elegant pair of high-heeled sandals, whose enlarged scale results from the repeated use of stainless steel pans and lids.

Verging toward gigantism, this accumulation creates a Gulliver effect, making the work stand in this vast hall as an ode to womens’ achievements both on the public and private spheres. The stainless steel in Marilyn – resistant like the armours of the warriors who fought in the Dutch War (1672-1678) and in the War of Devolution (1667-1668), Charles Le Brun’s subject matters for his ceiling paintings and medallions – and the mirrors that decorate the arcade team up in a disconcerting game of reflections, multiplying the space ad infinitum.

Positioned at the south end of Hall of Mirrors, the monumental pair of sandals refers the visitor to the accomplishments of the absent female figure, as grandiose as the glories celebrated by Louis XIV through the paintings of Le Brun, now reflected on Marilyn’s cold metallic surface.

 

via Seomi 

 

 

 

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2014, Machester Art Gallery via Port Magazine

 

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2014, Machester Art Gallery via Port Magazine

“On the north wall of a large room, on the first floor of Manchester Art Gallery,hangs ‘The Sirens and Ulysses’ (1837) by William Etty. It’s a large-scale nude, classic in every sense of the word. Adjacent to it sits an enormous, multi-coloured crochet breast (‘Big Booby #2’, 2011), inspired by ‘Allo! ‘Allo!, the risqué British sitcom set in Nazi-occupied France. “I Love ‘Allo! ‘Allo! says the latter’s creator Joana Vasconcelos. “They’re always trying to find ‘the Madonna with the big boobies’. This is my big booby. Finally I’ve found the right place to show it.”Time Machine, the new exhibition by the Portuguese artist, her largest in the UK to date, is full of these juxtapositions. Through the use of traditional Portuguese techniques and materials – crochet, lace, ceramics – she seeks to debunk the rigid pomposity of fine art, creating informal public art spaces. Contaminate is a dirty word, it conjures images of beef burgers minus the beef, or jars of dubious-looking drinking water scooped from murky rivers in developing countries, but that’s what she does.”

 

 

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A Noiva (The Bride) by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos, Venice Biennale 2005

The Bride is one of her most famous works. Taking the form of an 18th-century candelabra, it is made entirely of white tampons. Five meters high and over two meters in diameter.

 

 

theory of forms

 

 

LM: I think I disagree with the extended notion that the “forms” exist seperate to ourselves and are an innate aspect of reality. To me, this idea of objective truth seems flawed because, when representated via semantics, it seems to be a subjective interpretive experience. The notion of studying the “building blocks” of language and how it functions as an iconographical code of signifiers, however, seems very useful. Indeed it is the foundation of how we communicate and translate meaning.
In terms of the poetry of understanding, although I may not fully accept Plato’s theory, the thought that “forms” are forgotten memories being relearned or remembered is interesting. I find it difficult to accept because there is no scientific foundation upon which to situate this logic, however there is something compelling in proposing a link between ideas and collective memory. To me, it brings to mind thoughts of dreams and how they might relate to the human experience.