3rd Lecture 2015/2016 »How to choose the fragments?«
What is a fragment? In the common understanding a fragment is a smaller or bigger piece of something that has been a complete corpus before.
From a philosophical and also from a scientific viewpoint, there is no difference between an absolutely undivided corpus and nothing. To say, there is something, means to point at a part of the undivided corpus, we can also say: a part of nothing that has turned into something. The part itself is made of particles or fragments, for example: a building, in our case the building of the Academy of Visual Arts here in Frankfurt, is part of the city and this building can be divided into smaller and smaller fragments; rooms, walls, stones and so on.
To build something means to divide something (that points in the end to nothing) like we do, if we draw a line on a white sheet of paper; we are dividing the white nothing to get a line, a shape, a volume and so on.
Although that something in the end points to nothing, in our daily life the nothing does not exist in pure form. In fact we are dealing with the fragments of nothing to create the part of something. We identify these fragments as particles of parts of something. As long as we imagine this correlation between fragments, particles and parts as given in the material world, it seems easy to understand how the correlation works. It is a little bit harder to understand how to use fragments if the fragments are particles of an experience which we recognize as a fluent process. An experience is a process which includes material particles as well as emotional particles or particles of movements. We put these particles involuntarily together and if we remember the respective experience as important, we say, it was a important part of our life.
The characteristic of particles is to hold a connection to the part which they are taken from. If you look at this particle taken from a brick wall, you may recognize that this little piece of brick with cement on its surface has been a part of a wall, this wall has been part of a building, the building part of a city and so on.
In art and literature, fragments may comprise works which a) have inadvertently been left unfinished or have never been completed by their authors, b) surviving extracts of larger works which subsequently have lost as a whole, c) works deliberately constructed as fragmentary pieces.
In grammar, a fragment describes an incomplete sentence, or sentence fragment a set of words which does not form a complete sentence, either because it does not express a complete thought or because it lacks some grammatical element, such as a subject or a verb.
The difference between a particle and a fragment is that with the fragment there is no connection given to any correlational part. We can say that the fragment is a particle without fixable references and therefore without meaning. To fix the reference and with it to get an understanding how the fragment, in its relation to other fixed fragments, becomes a meaning, we need an individual definition of what a fragment is. A fragment has no principle meaning. We have to define the meaning by connecting a fragment with other fragments which are all taken from our divided experiences.
A divided experience falls apart in incoherent fragments. The falling apart takes place because of our impossibility to fix our experience just in memory. Without any aid, our remembrance is a chaotic flow of indistinct imaginations. The most important tool to sort and restore the experience in our mind is the spoken and written word. Each written word is constructed by vertical, horizontal, diagonal or circular lines. These lines are nothing else but a reconstruction of those moves we perform by coming closer to something or someone, or by prevention ourselves from getting too close with something or someone, and with it the moves of our breathing and the modulation of our breath if we touch the object of desire or are touched by the object of our fear.
If we are going to the origin of the words, we recognize that each word is build of fragments of our movements. Linguistic scientists say that the meaning of a word is arbitrary but from the viewpoint of drawing (surely not a scientific viewpoint but much more a viewpoint of direct experience) this does not apply. To give a fragment a meaning is not an arbitrary act but much more an act of defining a subjective relation between the individual experience and the collective desire to share what we have experienced.
Every fragment is a formative. In linguistics, a formative is the smallest meaningful element of a word or sentence. The meaning is not given by itself but in relation to a repetitive understanding: if a modulated breathing (that is a vowel) is again and again recognized within a special action, it will produce a word. For example: lifting something heavy from the bottom and by this modulating the breathing that it sounds like “uh...” or “uhp...”, after a while we use the word “up” to describe what to do. As an artist or designer our task is to explore a formative (or a range of formatives) given by the movements we are working with, which has the power to expand to a text, a texture and a sensitive volume.
Sound of The Kiss by transforming the coordinates of the Word-Fields into notes.
How to choose the fragments we need for our work?
“We who speak English were so
certain of our language and that
we could use it to communicate
that we have nearly destroyed the potential for poetry. The
thing in it that's going to save
the situation is the high percentage
of consonants and the natural way
in which they produce discontinuity.”
John Cage, Silence
The fragments we need are fragments of discontinuity that means they are particles without fixable references to any action or activity. Therefore our main task is to produce discontinuity to get the needed fragments.
We take these fragments from our daily environment, from things (for example „hexagon bolts“), from time (for example „after midnight“), from figures (with specific quantities or qualities, for example „faithful“), from interaction (with specific quantities or qualities, for example „consensus“).
Fragments transformed into Word-Fields:
consensus / einvernehmlich
after midnight / nach Mitternacht
hexagon bolts / Sechskantschrauben
Word-Fields transformed into fragments from our daily environment:
Things, figures, time, interaction.
In writing “Where Are We Going? And What Are We Doing?” for delivery by four readers at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, in January 1961, John Cage used the materials for his “Cartridge Music” to compose four texts that are to be heard simultaneously. They are divided into lines, twenty-five of which may be read in one, one and a quarter, or one and a half minutes, so that the printed relationship between the four texts is only one of many possibilities. Empty lines indicate silence. Despite these pauses, which come at different places in each of the parts, much of the lecture was unintelligible because of the simultaneity.