Aarti Sunder (DAI, 2015): "Can these overlaps be seen as multiple interpretations of, as a reservoir of potential, so that each local territory of each speaker extends to include multiple local territories of multiple speakers?"

27.12.15 | tag: Arnhem

Excerpt from Aarti's 20 minute presentation for Do The Right Thing ! ~ DAI's 3 day graduation lectures marathon, July 2015.

Drawing on a 1:1 scale


Aarti Sunder’s presentation featured two complementary actions – the screening of a compilation of 360 degree videos with accompanying compiled texts, and a live drawing on top of the screened image. In addition to her own video and text contributions, the artist collected videos and texts from three others: a scientist & philosopher, a religious thinker, and “a thinker who only relies on acute introspection and his own subjectivity”. In the voiceover, the artist read all of the texts, creating the sense of a seamless flow of (questionably) connected thoughts that seemed to flow from one voice. The video, also a collection of people and landscapes (shot in different locations within Europe and India) was edited together to create a picture of a fast-flowing and whirling globalized world. In her performance, Sunder stood with her back to audience to face the projected image and drew on top of the projection, using a thick black paint marker to follow the outlines and curves of the projected landscapes and figures as they quickly changed. By superimposing a ‘live-drawing’ on the video work, layered onto the stream of collected voices, thoughts and images, Sunder elegantly asks whether is possible to traces these trajectories and, more pointedly, if it is possible to differentiate between the generic and subjective?

Maria Hlavajova was interested in trying to grasp the recorded reality and abstract drawing, and the moments in the performance when she began to anticipate where the image would move. She recalled Steven Wright’s definition of a 1:1 scale in the “Toward a Lexicon of Usership”, which offered a proposition to move away from the modernist edifice of scaling (which conventionally uses a larger or smaller scale), and asks how Sunder’s 1:1 scale could connect to Wright’s proposition, if indeed, “the best map of the world is the world itself.”

Marina Vishmidt commented that Sunder’s work was “extremely effective and well-conceptualized” in how it deals with the way that observation changes the object being observed and how drawing works on that (problematizing the subject-object relationship). By creating an abstract drawing as a recording, the “conflation of image plane and gesture was effective.” For Vishmidt, Sunder’s performance recalls Simondon’s work on individuation and entanglement where being and thought are no longer sharply divided. The artist is “materializing the movement of thought as part of the same gesture as trying to outline the image, and trying to follow the conceptual itinerary of the voiceover… and at the same time trying to map the image.” Both audience and artist seem to be “trying to read moments of the voiceover between what was happening in the image” to grasp the relationship of image to voiceover. She remarks that this gesture posits “the very existence of the world as a kind of inscription.”

Bassam el Baroni brought up a few references including Louis Althusser’s text on Leonardo Cremonini, which was an attack on the people who called Cremonini an expressionist painter. The argument was that he is not an abstract painter but instead a painter of abstraction. This too “is a drawing of abstraction of the forces that determine who we are as individuals and put us into play with the spaces and time around us.” Adding to Vishmidt’s comment about the observer and the observed, el Baroni remarked that this work demonstrates “a kind of longing for a being that doesn’t have this specific way of separation.” He asks us to look at digitality itself – the binary process is also similar to the way we function through the binary of separation (referring to Metzinger). Today there is research to get to the quantum computer that does away with the binary structure which will make machines that process data in a way that we can’t (functioning on a binary system). He considers the “relationship between images that are zero-one renderings and images that we are taught to understand as more ‘natural’”, and suggests that “you will see a difference in character but not in essence.”

About Do The Right Thing !

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