You are here. Looking at the text in front of you. Perhaps, wondering if you will read it, just as I'm wondering whether or not to write it. If you don't read it, the individual words could exist as pure material, spread over the pages generating a rhythm, constructed by abstract forms. Only in that moment can the text be perceived as material, not yet inflicted by your background and exist within the constrains of its contours. If I hadn't written this text then there would only be an idea, a thought shaped as an image in my mind. It would exist in an abstract form not yet imposed upon the materiality of the words or the act of writing it down. As I precede writing, this form gains distance from the image becoming material waiting for excavation.
'There is a moment in the life of a man — consequently, in the life of men — when everything is completed, the books written, the universe silent, beings at rest. There is left only the task of announcing it: this is easy. but as this supplementary word threatens to upset the equilibrium — and where to find the force to say it? Where to find another place for it? — it is not pronounced and the task remains unfinished. One writes only what I have just written, finally that is not written either.'
— The Infinite Conversation, Maurice Blanchot, 1996
The line you are reading at this very moment is awakening from its abstract character as a series of signs on the page towards being an image situated somewhere outside this publication. It becomes a thought that now can be negotiated. However, this sentence already has a history, it has been thought and it has been written. Material has been added, one word follows the next, creating a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter. Is it possible to maintain this text in the potential of its material, un-evoked, only containing the rhythm in which it has been written?
The text is set on the bottom right of the left page. On the opposite side we see an image of a sculpture set against a colorful background. In this constellation the text can fulfill its most standard and commonly expected role: It recognizes that the image represented on the right hand side is a sculpture and that its contours vaguely suggest a bird. It states that its material is alabaster and mentions that it is a sculpture by the hand of artist Marie Lund.
The position on the page of image and text might give you a certain confidence: the text contains the data for the image, its visual counterpart, a common relation applied in scientific and academic literature. We trust that the provided data is correct and that the image reveals a reality existing outside the publication. In its conception it anticipates a conventional response: you accept the information as a given.
The correlation between text and image implies duplication. Does the repetition function as a rehearsal, as a mnemonic device? Reading the caption might help you to remember the image, seeing the image might help you to recall corresponding facts.
Subjective sphere or the potential disguise of the author in the production of the work. The final image comprises the perceivable and the projected. So who does this cognitive process belong to? Who is the author?
You have looked at the image and you have read the corresponding description and this is where it leaves you in this relationship.
So, let's write about sculpture, a sculpture that isn't asking for appreciation due to its complex awareness of space, or that reflects on one or the other Brancusian problem. No, let's look at sculpture, let's look at these sculptures, at what might happen when I erase the layer of contextualization that this text might advocate. This text, once finished, you start to re-read, while I start to re-write. The text you are reading now is created in the past and in the future. It's re-written on top of what follows. It is not restored nor newly created. When sculpting, the matter is carved away while the sculpture takes shape. By re-sculpting, by returning to its material substance, the sculpture finalizes what was once finished, completing the completed. The patina is now constituted by fresh carves and the sculpture composed out of the potential of the sculpted material.
'Do not let us talk then of restoration. The thing is a Lie from beginning to end. You may make a model of a building as you may of a corpse, and your model may have the shell of the old walls within it as your cast might have the skeleton, with what advantage I neither see nor care; but the old building is destroyed, and that more totally and mercilessly than if it had sunk into a heap of dust, or melted into a mass of clash; more has been gleaned out of desolated Ninevah than ever will be out of re-built Milan.'
— The Seven Lamps of Architecture, J. Ruskin, 1849
What happens when we consider sculptures through they representation, when we can't walk around them, when we can only look at them from one possible position? Are they still able to enforce their spatial qualities? Are they still evoking a setting that we can negotiate as a viewer? And what happens if I write about those sculptures, can I still speak about spatiality and time? Or is it through you, the reader, and this text, that a spatial awareness might appear? By your reading, by you turning the pages, by your eyes moving over the surface of the paper, floating over the images, sometimes standing still on a detail in order to move on again?
The text reflects on the nature of the material presented. How the context, the history of the sculptures is erased to reveal its material; the carved alabaster, the sculpted soapstone. How this material acts as an image, stripped from its spatial understanding, printed on and conceived for the pages of this publication.
The bird is set in an idealized landscape — the text reflects on its own merit.
text — image
and page space
'A calculated use of the idiom of presentational forms'