Eksorsizm/Eksersize (Exhibition notes)
(art = noise)
"Just because you're paranoid, don't mean they're not after you" (Nirvana, Territorial Pissings, 1991)
Aside 1: Snotty outcasts
Within the field of contemporary arts, the practice of drawing seems generally connected to the subjective, the intimate, the personal, and the idiosyncratic; there is often a certain preoccupation with the sinister; melancholy, pain, fear, death, excess, perversion. Art historically speaking, there was never anything grandiose about drawing; According to Giorgio Vasari, disegno (drawing and design) was the foundation of the three arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture. Up until the Italian Renaissance, there was no debate regarding its role as a preliminary stage in creating a painting or sculpture, and though increasingly popular amongst collectors from the 17th century onwards, the real emancipation of autonomous drawing happened in the 20th century. Given this history as an underdog, drawings’ current obsession with what Georges Battaille (1897-1962) calls “the heterogeneous”, makes sense.
Step 1: Eradicate meaning: empty head noise
In the production of the works in the exhibition, a lot of time went into what I call exercising boredom. It’s something most people will be familiar with; drawing as a superficial exercise, a mindless ‘going through the motions’ of an activity. I am talking about the doodling, scribbling and hatching that serves no other purpose then to kill time. The idea of spending time on a mindless activity fascinates me; mindlessness can be understood as a mental state not unlike an aural buzz, a white noise. Exercising boredom evokes emptiness; a monotonous bliss, something Andy Warhol found in the machine-like repetition of a single image, or through observing a stationary object for hours on end. It is emptiness so complete it makes ones ears buzz and ones head spin. I would suggest that rather than a complete absence of thought, this drone be regarded as the presence of all thought.
Aside 2: Into the White - everything at once, in every possible direction, all the time
In acoustics, white noise is a signal containing all of the audible frequencies at the same time, like the noise produced by a detuned radio.
Aside 3: Jams run free
In communication theory, noise is that which distorts the signal on its way from transmitter to recipient. There will always be an element of distortion, either externally or internally, coming from the medium itself.
In music, distortion is the fraying of sound produced by amplifier overload.
It is interesting to think about a visual equivalent to white noise: No aesthetics, no politics, no idealisation, no discrimination, no dichotomy; no reductionism vs. expressionism, no author, no control.
White noise is bliss; distortion is glee.
Exercising boredom; tinkering through time.
Step 2: Expressway to your skull
- Feedback is the back coupling of sound when a sound producing source picks up and reacts to the vibrations coming from the amplifier it is connected to, i.e. the sound the source itself transmits.
“Going back to these origins
The city is a natural scape
Order in the details
Confusion uproar in the whole
In nature reality is selection
The tool of critical intervention
Fragmentation is the rule
Unity is not taught in school”
(Sonic Youth, Making the nature scene, 1983)
The daily overload of inaccessible, paradoxical information, -confusing in terms of content-, has become nigh impossible to sort out by relevance. I often make use of text in my work: Graffiti-like statements, literary citations, one-liners, poems, jokes, streams of consciousness, song lyrics, declarations of love and hate, etc.
It is not the literal meaning of these words so much as their appearance which matters: sentences may be reversed, syntaxes jumbled, mirrored, cut-up, words repeated or misspelled. Whether hastily jotted down, or laboured over and decorated: the aim is to subvert all anecdotal content; to sabotage expression and clarity of narrative. References to fear, love, and death are made either indirectly, obscured, overstated, or paired to oppositional counterstatements; it’s never one or the other, it’s always everything. It is eating one’s cake and having it, too.
Aside 4: Declaration of intent - Wet Knee Houston
‘Rockbusters’ was a game on London XFM radio’s ‘The Ricky Gervais Show’, it is played by producer Karl Pilkington giving hosts Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant three clues, which he considers "cryptic" but are in reality convoluted colloquialisms which often depend on the answer being mispronounced. Along with the "clue", Karl includes the initials of the answer. The aim is for the audience to find the name of a popular band or artist:
Ricky Gervais: Okay Karl, go on then.
Karl Pilkington: Right, and just a quick example, err, one of the first ones we did was like ‘AK’ and the clue was ‘exploding pet’-
Karl: - and it was ‘Atomic Kitten’ right, so you understand how it works now.
(…) and the final one, here’s the final [‘cryptic’ – S.S.] clue; ‘I was in Texas the other week, right, I tripped and landed on my knees in a puddle.’
*Ricky and Stephen Merchant crack up with laughter*
Steve Merchant: What’s the initials?
Karl: WH, for that one. So I was in Texas, I tripped up, Landed on my knees, in a puddle. So that’s WH.
Ricky (laughing hysterically): I’ve got it! It’s fantastic! It doesn’t work!
Punk is not a school of thought, punk has no instructions, punk is what you define when you do something.
- Sebastiaan Schlicher, Berlin, July 2007.