/    Aesthetics for a Philosophy of Scale    /    Abstract Bodies    /  

         01/ The Perpetual Horizon: Altered Temporal Perception
         02/ The Dwindling Horizon: Altered Spatial Perception

The two chapters of this section, The Perpetual Horizon and The Dwindling Horizon, bring together the cognitive psychology research and philosophical musing of the previous section, Relational Bodies, to present two new landscapes: first, a landscape of simultaneous time; second, a new landscape of spatial experience. The Perpetual Horizon studies the scaling of time and with it the scaling of the body. The newly scaled body is then used in The Dwindling Horizon to further study shifts in perception of the empirical based on the old body.

The scientific method begins with continued and regulated reflective inquiry. It aims to solve perplexities that crude material gives rise to, but which cannot resolve itself (John Dewey). Through this process of sustained reflection of immediate and informed experiences, the body of work in this chapter employ the technical image (photography, video, and in future research, virtual reality) as the 'crude material' which gives rise to the perplexity of bodily self-perception, specifically the perception of one's physical scale through the reading of various scales of the technical image. The method of inquiry deployed here is aesthetics. Aesthetics is used in Kantian terms as the perception of the sublime and the beautiful, and as one of the patterns of the cognitive process of knowing and as a foundation of knowledge. The research and methodology is carried out in the natural landscape devoid of human alteration. The landscape is the first place after the body where we formed our perceptions and understanding of the world.

In order to navigate these works we must detach ourselves from the here and now to allow our bodies to expand and encapsulate a greater space and greater time. Therefore, the way one must view their body in the context of studying these works is as a tool. Just as a ruler is used to measure a length or a protractor is used to measure an angle and so forth, here, the body’s subjectivity is used as a tool for extracting aesthetic knowledge from what we know and accept as sublime and beautiful: sunrise and sunset.

Introduction    /   Landscape Techne
(Re-edited from Little Berlin Gallery catalogue introduction for the exhibit Landscape Techne)

The crafting of a landscape begins with the irreducible landscape of nature. There is a rich history of landscape art, from Romantic paintings to Ansel Adams’ photography and Robert Smithson’s deformations in dirt, just to name a few that easily come into anyone’s mind when pressed on the topic. In all, landscape, among its many identities and roles, is a toolset, a carrier, and a medium. Technology has been crucial for many artists in the process of knowing and crafting the landscape. Its role in the landscape has been one of compression—rail and telegraph compressed days and months worth of landscape to minutes and hours; of extension—still photography or Muybridge’s motion experiments; and of abstraction—creating layers upon layers of narrative and reality upon the concrete reality.

Every landscape is thus a multiple of potentials waiting to be realized. Therefore, a landscape, a being-as-becoming, exists on what Deleuze calls ‘a plane of immanence’, latent with possibilities. The key to existing on this plane and unlocking its potentials is desire. What is the desired knowledge that is guiding these techni? By Aristotle’s account, technê is concerned with bringing into existence things that could either exist or not. It appears as a very casual position where being or not being of those things have no effect beyond their own existence. But as artists we appropriate everything at hand to bring ‘something’ into existence, repeatedly.

Craft-like and practically applied knowledge is called ‘technê’ (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Many early accounts of technê in Greek philosophy identify it with acts that are of necessity, such as farming, sowing, and other home and land management skills. Being that most of these skills are no longer a necessity for the general population, what is the necessity that pushes the artist to practical and philosophical technê?

In modern philosophy, ‘need’ is also a driving force for creating. In Production of Space, a level-minded expansion of Situationist thought, Henri Lefebvre defines the spatial practice of ‘appropriation’ where nature is modified to satisfy human needs. “An existing space may outlive its original purpose and the raison d’etre which determines its forms, functions, and structures; it may thus in a sense become vacant, and susceptible of being diverted, re-appropriated and put to a use quite different from its initial one.” Lefevbre’s space is a space that does not pre-exist us, but is simultaneously created and defined by social, economic and political forces. Re-appropriation shakes up these constructed spaces with the goal to create new spaces for action and interaction. In the works presented herewith, the space, however, is the pre-existing space of the natural landscape. But our natural landscape is diverted from its initial expanse of timeless space, to measured and coded space-time of ideologies. As Lefevbre asks, “What is an ideology without a space to which it refers, a space which it describes, whose vocabulary and kinks it makes use of, and whose code it embodies?” The spaces of the works may be the irreducible expanse of the natural landscape, reiterated over and over into a unique narrative, but the ideologies coded into each refer back to the constructed spaces of the everyday, which are mostly mediated by technology, from mass media to mobile media.

The natural landscape is where one goes to in order to hear oneself and to find a balance away from our everyday lives in the urban landscape. In the United States, we have the privilege of massive amounts of space, weighted down with thousands of different time speeds in a phase space, or liberated from time altogether, however you wish to feel it. Isolation—absence of others, lack of sound pollution and no burden from pre-segmented existence in time—gives us a sense of freedom and it is only when we are free, and voluntarily in isolation can we have “the liberty to know oneself.” (Robert Adams) The natural landscape is therefore an amalgamation of other landscapes—for an artist, the landscape of the body and the mind upon which the they construct yet other landscapes: mythical, emotional, psychological, physical—real and virtual.

Humans design, craft and make, and the references for making are outside and within our selves. The ultimate crafted landscape, however, is the landscape of the self. As artists we first craft ourselves and the qualitative measures of who we are. This knowledge in turn crafts our work by appropriating acquired and existing toolsets for creating new spaces of experience. Our shared desire for other spaces is as strong as our need in delivering it. The need and the desire are one, and inherent within all of us.