Sunday, February 11, 2018

Particles of deep topography - 26

Portraits from other dimensions

Text: Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality (Edward Frenkel)
Text: My Work Is Not Yet Done (Thomas Ligotti)
Text: Teatro Grottesco (Thomas Ligotti)
Pictures: Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Media museum Hilversum, Berlin, Zeeuws Museum Middelburg, 2012

It is impossible to see other dimensions (is it?). But it is possible to think, model and (maybe) sketch other dimensions. Many artist tried. And the results could be powerful and eerie. Especially when applied to portraits of people from these other dimensions. During walks we could keep this in mind: are there membranes to penetrate, portals to enter?
Duchamp was fascinated with the idea of the fourth dimension as well as non-Euclidean geometry. Reading E.P. Jouffret’s book Elementary Treatise on Four-Dimensional Geometry and Introduction to the Geometry of N Dimensions, which in particular presented the groundbreaking ideas of Poincaré, Duchamp left the following note: The shadow cast by a 4-dimensional figure on our space is a 3-dimensional shadow ...  
(See the Sierpinsky cube in the picture above and the 3-D skeleton in the picture  below.)
... by analogy with the method by which architects depict a plan of each story of a house, a 4-dimensional figure can be represented (in each one of its stories) by three-dimensional sections. These different stories will be bound to one another by the 4th dimension. Duchamp found something deliciously subversive about the new geometries with their challenge to so many long-standing ‘truths.’
("Stories" is used in the architectural sense in this quote, but imagine that "stories" in the narratological sense could be connected in higher dimesions, isn't that a cool speculation?)
At the beginning of the twentieth century, artists got interested in this idea and used it as a way to include the fourth dimension into their paintings, to render them dynamic. A milestone in this direction was Marcel Duchamp’s 1912 painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2. It is interesting to note that Einstein’s relativity theory, which demonstrated that space and time cannot be separated from each other, appeared around the same time.
Can we enter these dimensions and bring back artefacts? Artworks from these realms should be  weird and unsettling. They're also impossible to describe:
In the reception area where I waited to be called for my interview there hung a portrait of U G Blaine. It was a flattering-enough likeness of a middle-aged man in a business suit, but the effect of contemplating this portrait was such that I wanted to turn away and purge it from my mind before I started thinking thoughts that I did not want in my head.

It appeared to be a sculpture of some kind. However, I found it initially impossible to give this object any generic designation, either artistic or non-artistic. It might have been anything. The surface of the piece was uniformly of a shining darkness, having a glossy sheen beneath which was spread a swirling murk of shades that almost seemed to be in motion, an effect which seemed quite credibly the result of some swaying of the lightbulb dangling above.

About this series - Over the years I've collected many place descriptions. It's a waste to keep them on my harddisk. So I'll publish them from time to time. I will add some pictures when suitable.
Enhanced and amplified topographies can be found in a broad range of literature. The best ones link to metaphysics or mysticism and (pre-) load the landscape with unexpected layers, sheets, slabs and strata of meaning. We can appropriate all this work to enrich our everyday surroundings.
Previous posts are 1:The paranoid method, 2:Rooftops and sacrifices, 3:Oil and electricity, 4:Sewing machines, 5:Rooftops and apparitions, 6:Woods, 7:Mushrooms, 8:Formlessness (2d), 9:Formlessness (3d), 10:Autumn, 11:Monsters and mad scientists, 12:Empty spaces, 13:Stars and planets, 14:Addiction against emptiness, 15:Suggestive vagueness, 16: Ominous places and books, 17: Military technology, 18: Ominous telephones, 19: Observation, 20: History distortion, 21: Spy stories, 22: Dead places, 23: Mannequins, 24: Secret walks, 25: Stories, 26: Other dimensional portraits,  27: Mysterious fragments, 28a: Dino Buzzati, 28b: Mushrooms.

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