4th Lecture 2015/2016 »How to get the fragments?«
Something attracts our attention because in our perception, fragments taken from the complexity around us are involuntarily connected to a former experience of ours. We can say attention happens because present fragments point at former fragments. The distance between the recognized fragments in the present and the fragments (or particles) of the former experience is filled with a volume that immediately suffuses our receptivity. This volume may be a colour, being touched by the smallest particles like sand or strong wind, or something we touch, like clothes or the surface of wood or stone or something else. The recognized fragments are particles of volumes which once – mostly in our early childhood – had produced a sensitive knowledge in our mind.
From the perspective of art or design, the pointing from fragment to fragment (i.e. from one point to another) can be described as text. As we have seen, a text is basically a combination of fixed movements. This kind of fixing we call lines and the rules to combine the lines we call grammar. The filling between the fragments which are pointing at each other, we call texture or, as we define the material of the texture, we call it a specific volume.
Text and texture are the material we are working with in any kind of creative process. The relation between text and texture is identical to the relation between fragment and volume. Therefore the question of how to get the volume can only be answered by the use of the fragment. As stated in the last lecture: in theoretical description, every fragment is a formative.
It took me a lot of time to understand how the fragment can be separated from the surrounding reality. It took me even longer to realize that, with a single fragment, the whole corpus is given, not in the way that you follow the trail from fragment to fragment like an archaeologist, reconstructing a vase by putting together the fragments.
What I had to learn was, how to grip a fragment from the reality by dividing this reality and how to use this cutout fragment to create my own reality. I give you a simple comparison to explain: You divide the fragment from any object like you pull out a thread from your pullover. Then you use this thread to combine with other threads (or fragments) until you get a new pullover. In this understanding, a drawing is a new reality as the new pullover is. Everything around us which is made by us like this table, the chairs, the plate, the cups, the streets, the buildings and so on, are “real” like a picture, a drawing, a piece of writing or a musical composition; made by us, made of fragments taken from human made things or made of fragments taken from nature (but today most of the nature is also human made).
As a student I started drawing the figure by staring at the model. I was staring for such a long time that I had no time to draw. Instead of drawing, I wasted my time with the hopeless attempt to fix the volume. Exactly at the moment when I had understood how to fix the outline (which has to hold the whole volume) and I had set the tip of my pencil on the paper, the time was over and the teacher directed the model to take another position. I was really frustrated about that. I had to learn that to get the volume of a thing, you have to get a fragment which has the power to expand to a text, a texture and with it to a sensitive volume.
Although I finally understood that we have to dissect the interactions and objects of the surrounding reality to get the material we need for our work, until today I have to deal always anew with the problem of fixing the fragments and combining them in an appropriate way to get a sensitive volume, from which the story on which I am constantly working, could be woven onwards. It is a daily-renewed experience that finally leads to the impossibility of being the owner of a fixed knowledge about my work. To believe I have a definite knowledge about drawing (and for sure that is it what I am talking about: drawing, painting, sculpting, designing etc.) would mean to have no experiences anymore with this fundamental matter of concern.
“Our question becomes clearly the question of the impossible experience or the experience of the impossible: an experience removed from the conditions of possibility of a finite knowledge, and which is nevertheless an experience.” Jean-Luc Nancy, The Creation of the World or Globalization
Without our own experiences, there is no possibility to get any volume. Remember: Volume is the tangible dimension of any natural given object or any artefact. Without experiences, it may be hard to understand how the grammatical structure works but it is possible. The general method used in schools is to teach without any involvement of personal experience of the pupil or the teacher. It seems to be a hindrance to provide a relation between teaching material and personal experiences.
The reason why I am here, giving these lectures, being someone who is teaching to become someone who will be able to expand his artistic talent into an existential basis for his daily existence, is this: with every task to find an individual way to get a specific volume, I am challenged by the approach to find an individual volume which fits the respective individuality of the student with which every single student is renewed.
I am pretty good at explaining how the grammatical structure of the visual language works (although it may be not be easy to understand...), but to go forward with my work on volumes, I am reliant on getting deeper into the chance of connecting the volume which I have taken from my personal experiences with those volumes which relate to the experiences of others, to say it concretely: with your experiences and your individual ability to transform them into another expression.
By the way, this is the reason why we have done the publication of “Lectures”.
Handmade woolen carpet by Philippe Baudelocque