THE GREEN RAY 

VISUAL GLOSSARY

 

This webpage content is an attachment related to a PhD research, entitled Le Rayon Vert: Beyond the Western Horizon, which has been conducted as a practice-as-research based project, resulting in the submission of four artefacts, alongside by its questionings and insights.  

These artefacts attempt to provide a combination of images and terminologies helpful for the actual needs of transdisciplinary research. The topics are displayed taking a study on the qualities of the green ray effect, which is itself a phenomenon that can't be placed within a specific field, depending on both physics and illusion to become perceivable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I. DISPLACEMENTS AND TRANSLATIONS: THE FLÂNEUR

 

To be aware of the geographical and cultural influences in the achievement of a new knowledge is an awareness that allows the observer to reach the most efficient positioning in relation to the observed. To challenge a specific context, in which such situations occur, may result in new types of knowledge and aesthetics.  

     

By moving out from centric spheres leads one towards cultural and economical boundaries - i.e. the underground sub-cultural tendencies are mostly found in peripheral areas or non-institutional venues. Such places might be of use for the rising of new experiments and questionings to move towards irregular regions, and avoid familiar, stablished or centralized references.  However, this potential is emphasized for the one who departs from one position to another, meaning it is productive to become a stranger in such territories. In this case, the notion of stranger should not imply its nativity, but to be played as a character without pre-given knowledge within the new context. The stranger, by definition, doesn't know something - he is an external element towards whatever placement at stake. The notion of a stranger also implies a mutual awareness or an omnipresent narrator (the consciousness of what is internal and external) and two different territories - a centric positionsomehow familiar, not strange  and a peripheralthe unknown. The stranger with such awareness becomes a flâneur.

 

The ideal as something external, far, or standing out of territorial limits is an historical practice recurrent within western cultures, funded in colonization, more than in others. The western desire for what stands beyond the horizon, determined as a fixed goal, as well as assuming distance as an obstacle to overpass, that has to be diminished, throughout strategical moves, might as well contribute to the way of regarding at the green ray, in the sphere of what would come next...The not known. Perhaps similar metaphysical knowledge is absorbed in other cultures, instead of projecting it as it happened by mystifying such phenomenon in Europe. Such doubts become a challenge in my perspective, to better understand other cultural practices of cosmological matters.

 

Pursuing this aim, along my artistic research I explore different geographical displacements, in order to get an insight about how such transpositions may enrich transcultural envisions. 

   

 

 

II. NEGATIVE DIP, DISTORTION AND THE OBSOLETISM OF THE REAL

 

 

 This topic aims to reflect on the possibility to introduce the doubled or mirrored image as an operative tool. The green ray is only perceivable due to mirages, often mistaken or claimed as miracles. It is a projection of the real, like the allegoric shadows projected in the cave. However, such indiscernibility leads to open up scientific knowledge towards opportunity/chance, the apparent and new cosmological rites. 

 

The negative dip or Kimmfläche (named by Lutz Hasse and Biot)[1] - and one of the factors of green rays - is the capacity to observe a mirrored object which lies under the line of objective view. The incredible potential of either refraction and mirage promotes, let’s say, result in fictionized observations. Therefore, the quest in play is the one of appearance, rather than a restricted apprehension of objective forms. The horizon is even scientifically named in such cases the apparent horizon[1], once it is composed by a trembling appearance. The green ray operates in-between the instant image and the afterimage. an afterimage is the persistence of a retinal impression after the removal of a visual stimulus, caused by the continuity of the photochemical activity in the retina. It is named positive, when the color or brightness corresponds to the original image or negative, also known as counter-image, when the brightness intensity changes or the colors become complementary to the original (Swan, 1883)[2]. Reasons why Flammarion recalls the habit of the horizon as a criterium to observe the green ray. These fluctuations in objectivity differentiates traditional scientific methodologies, as it demands an abstract or imaginary thinking of the source.  

 

  To induce afterimages, counter-images or negative dips as a method, one should magnify or invert perception. Such experiences result in the assumption of the obsoletism of the real, even though it is associated to psychologic lucidity and responsive materializations.

 The fact that anaesthetic drugs are healthwise prejudicable and that mental illnesses provoke unreal visions, might inflect such prejorative associations against indiscernible matters.  However, it is of my understanding, that it is the role of art, to provide a beneficial alternative for such non-classificable knowledge, and to validate it, through its own means. 

 

 Such wider perceptions of the real are, in western societies, marginally employed to deviate from fixed social structures.

To rethink what is marginal or peripheral is of great importance for this research.



[1] Swan, W. (1883) Green sunlight. Nature, 29, p. 75

[1] Swan, W. (1883) Green sunlight. Nature, 29, p. 76 

[2] Biot, J. B. (1839) “Sur les réfractions astronomiques,” Additions a la Connaissance des Temps, pp. 3–114 

 

 

 

III. THE GREEN RAY BEYOND THE WESTERN SCOPE

 

 

 The green ray is an example of a Sci-fiction event, which promotes the mythification of the real by triggering a narrative shared by either sciences and cultural studies. Neither the field of sciences or the field of the arts totally report their observations without embedding some sort of oracular narrative or cosmology. This is due to the projection of past in future, and the intrinsic relation between effects and affects. 

 

Cosmologies associated with the green ray seem to have been reported exclusively by westerns. Such fact, led to associate the green ray to the questions of enlighten love, which is by the way, a remarkable westernized quest and desire, not evident in other cultures. It is well known that any ritualizations are strong indicators of a culture. However, we tend to analyse such social phenomenons within the scope of anthropology, focusing on primitive or animistic cultures. This third topic engages in these remarks, to put into question how to find out new ritualizations, that might reveal similar insights and indicators of our own contemporaneity and future desires. That is, I propose through this research to observe the green ray qualities - which has the particularity to gather science and speculation/fiction – to operate similar qualities in different formats and site-specific cultureswhich might also propel new cognitive gains. 

 

The discourses gained from such rites of passage are usually speculative and based in-between technoscience and fictional narratives. Nevertheless, it is interesting to understand how such ambiguous events are so closely connected to the real paradigms of the times.

 

To deal with such complex forms, one should avoid centric perspectives -commonly based on the world historicity, thereof, a western tradition - and entangle as much as possible, opposite or distant views, such as the Eastern traditions, that I pursued during the production of Double Double. Thereof, this topic is co-related with the above ones.

RESEARCH TOPICS

FILM- ARTEFACTS

I. DOUBLE DOUBLE /  TOKYO 2019 

2 Channel 4k colour video. stereo audio

II. ULTRAPERIPHERAL / AZORES 2018

III. HELENE ET OLIVIER / LIWA DESERT 2018

IV. QUIET SUN /  PHAROE ISLANDS 2015

16mm double film / soundtrack by Tam 

DISCOURSIVE

OUTCOMES

 

ULTRAPERIPHERAL

 

 

Description of the artefact 

Ultrapheripheral was produced during a residency program, entitled Sonic Geometry, curated by Nuno Faria and Nicolau Tudela, and commissioned by the Azorean Regional Government and the Public National Radio and Television Broadcast – RTP.

It consists of an installation, composed by two 4:3 videos displayed on two separated DNR monitors, as well as a set of two wood grid structures, robes and other diverse materials, recovered from the Art Centre depositary and displayed at some points suspended, others leaning or landing.  These artefacts are assembled in order to disturb the viewer perception, by appearing at first sight, to be alighted or canted by evident supports, the robes, when in fact what sustains them is some more discrete and barely noticeable wedges. 

 

The exhibition took place at the Arquipélago Contemporary Art Centre, in the island of São Miguel, Azores, from July to September 2018. 

 

Questions

Becoming a repetitive approach in my practice-based research, this artefact also plays within the geographical location where it is being produced/exhibited. This site-specificity aims to be a questioning around its presence in such time and place. The questions that were at play during the process of production and therefore inhabiting the artworks, were moving in between these ones:

Where stands the boundaries between center, peripheral and ultraperipheral in Europe? What differs in these distant places from activity (economic/social/political/cultural) centers? How to activate by the means of art the encompassing of geographical specifications?

The chapter 2.3 of the dissertation focus on the theoretical reflections triggered from this project. 

 

Description of the process

When I initiated this residency program, I was getting along with the main conclusions of my PhD research. Therefore, this exhibition plays a summit role for this dissertation. The residency initiated in July 2018 had the duration of three weeks culminating with the exhibited results. The exhibition was open to public in August 2018 until October 2018.   

 Even though the time between the residency and the exhibition opening was very short (nearly 10 days), I decided to not plan the work in advance, in order to better reflect my major research interests which departed from the green ray - opportunity and contingency, along with cultural concerns. Nevertheless, I knew with precision which questions I had at stake and which strategies to employ, despite I only had in mind a superficial memory of the territory’s topology. I had been before in the islands, for the exhibition of La Longue Durée: structure, conjuncture, évènement, but never for the purpose of an art residency, that supplies other conditions, such as open access to studio, exhibiting gallery and accommodation. 

 

  My first approach, was to better know the islands, though my focus was mainly the affective qualities (i.e. the invisible hollows of volcanic masses and the oceanic surroundings) rather than historic. Still, I was also getting in touch with locals and researching archives to learn more about the social and political conditions of this region. What I could apprehend from this particular research, was an anxious feeling deriving from a lack of stability present in every aspect. These volcanic islands, are outlined by hollow hills and fences that opens straightly to the Earth’s center, like open wounds. The climate is mutable, as it is known there is permanent cyclone over this region, and the islands are isolated, right in the middle of Atlantic Ocean. The social and political conditions are equally instable. Locals are very religious, as faith seems to be a paradox need for some grounding. They gather several times in circles to celebrate spiritual events. It is therefore a territory of disquietude. The only ensuring geometry at sight seems to be the straight line of the horizon that tear out the disruptive surroundings and the perfectness of the solar round shape appearance. Even if these are illusionary notions of geometry, nothing else appeared more stable. The artefacts came out of the confrontation with these local specificities, along with my need to better understand how opportunity and contingency are exalted in relation to smooth fields and how could I reactivate the presence of such enquiries with the means of art. Therefrom, the three pieces that I present in unity, entitled Ultraperipheral, were executed as amplifiers of the contingent opportunities that I could recognize.

 

 In order to do so, I first went to the Astronomical Observatory of Santana to film the sun through the telescope. The resulted film is an augmentation of the solar image, even though I wanted to keep the entire circular outline on the screen, a recognizable geometric shape (I didn’t use the telescopic lens at its maximum range). Time and motion exist in that image but it is nearly imperceptible. 

While doing this film, I produced a basic pedagogical geometry exercise which consists on using one or two fixed points attached to a robe, which strengthen from its central point and moving around the fixations, produce within this movement a perfect elliptical form. I reproduced this process with the materials I found in the linerboard between land and sea (stones and naval robe). My intention was to do it over a territory boundary, an in-between situation. A camera was filming from a top view and this angle is the premise of this artefact. By changing the perspective of the viewer, in this case, by the camera, the ellipse could become larger or thinner, assuming the shape of a circle or an ovoid.  An opportunity for other possible shapes is into play.      

  

Having done these experiments, among other wanderings in the field, I also started to work with the museum leftover materials (kept from exhibition dispositive that have no more use). These leftovers consist mainly of wood pieces in variant shapes and sizes. I projected two grids that served as open plans once I was suspending them by robes or by using other objects to serve as wedges. 

  

By using these three mediums (telescopic image, digital video and diverse leftovers), I was manipulating the forces and weakness of the materials, but also of their contents, maximizing their capacities, showing their strengths and fragilities by exposing them in tension. There is a quest for a stable form that is never gained. Even though ultraperipheral regions are settled as being distant from main activity centers, and their distant presence appears quiet and silent, disquietude emanates from such territories. 

 

 

 

Insights

As seen along this research, all journeys enable brief rites - celebrations.

The arrival to an island, reminds us that it was once an imaginary place; that its access implied a navigation in sight, which, once broken by the island silhouette, would stained in black the blank horizon.

My arrival to the island of São Miguel, under the Sonic Geometry residency, also demanded a despoiling of ideals. An approach to such location, isolated on the Ocean, requires a process of forgetfulness of the those who are used to live on solid ground, it emanates a different physical sensation, a kind of sickness similar to the ones who, not used to sail, get emerged in a painful dizziness – I would take the risk!

 

Although I had visited the islands before, I did not expect that, due to the increased and attention that a residency project demands, that resulted in the intensive gathering of small encounters; would spill artefacts made out of geometry exercises. Azores is a land of peaks and of abysses, which at some moments rises, while other swallows and the need to geometrize it, is a need for stabilization, somehow, to contain the dizziness. 

 

The installation Ultraperipheral allude to this climacteric, landscaping twist, but also economic and social – by initiating conversation with what appeared to be lost boys (the unemployment in the island is one of the biggest in Europe, reason why so many young people, specially boys, wander around the streets), the flanked horses (animals are still used for labor purposes), the ladies' prayers (as said previously, the island community is very attached to religious rites – Christian catholic) and the landowners (a feudal system of land properties is still present in the islands, since the dictatorial times in Portugal)… All these factors of instability drew my research to an intensive need to open sight towards the sea, to contour the content of this territory and understand through my research how to relate with disturbance and disruptions in its many levels. 

 

Ultraperipheral is the name attributed to the location of the Azores, in relation to the European continent [1], insinuating this distance from an ideologic center, imposing the maintenance of an external identity. It is like such ultraperipheral place is detached from its country and therefore, as François Jullien, becomes an intensive territory:

   “Le paysage, en se détachant du “pays”, est un intensif. 

Sont négatif est l’atonie, l’absence de cette tension qui fait la vie.”[2]

 

I suppose that from this need to grab, to stay in tension, and not float on adrift, rise the circumscription I recognized in the islanders, who often gather in circular tapestries, resembling the contour of the island’s craters, or the solar circular shape – the most perfect outline, that when if one would bounce into a horizontal plane could suddenly manifest as an ovoid. 

 

The insights come therefore as result of the living experience on these islands, and an attempt to grab its tensions, to arrange them in straight shapes. From the artefact which is a film of the star, seen through the lens of a telescope, I suggest that one shouldn’t believe it is round perfectness appearance, my aim is to expose the illusionary insights in evidence.  

 

This artefact is also a practice about the opening of a form, the unveiling, the appearance and disappearance of static forms, which reveal by their undefined support condition, a lack of linearity.

 

The opening of a form, happens in two senses: as a beginning, starting, origin, or launching and as availability to our own capacity, as mentioned by Jean-Luc Nancy, in "Le Plaisir au Dessin"[3], referring to the gesture of drawing as the closest to desire, the first attempt to grab a sensation. Although, it is also an opening as a continuous transformative movement, an ongoing process – one should think of the opening not as a starting point, as an arrow to be launched, which leads us to reflect on the effectiveness of a methodology, which is, in itself, antagonistic, because it enables, on the one hand, this instantaneous movement, the will to break the surface, and on the other, the continuous inscription of a knowledge.

 

 It is a subtle reference of the doors of the temple of Janus[4], which used to open in times of war and close in times of peace. This temple, which sheltered in its interior the statue of Janus, the tutelary god of all beginnings, but also of his return, that is, of all that is passage and transition, is an indicator of the state of the work of his time.

  This rite helps to define the insights gained from this practice. It opens a sequence of several static objects, revealing their movement from their unbalanced equilibrium. That is, it allows the necessary voids, negative spaces, which favors the imminence of a new stage.  

 

 Ultraperipheral is, therefore, a materialization that is exposed from my artistic research, though it incites the amplexus with other subjects, in a kind of satire on the origin of the form, and of what stands in this disrupted notion of the ultraperipheral as a landscape distant of action, detached from its own country (land-), standing uniquely in its smoothness (-scape). 

 

 

 

[1] R Hudson (2006). The EU’s ultra-peripheral regions: developmental considerations and reflections. Durham University Queen’s Campus, Stockton-on –Tees, England (Paper prepared for the Conference on the macroeconomic situation of the European ultra- periphery, Brussels, 15/12/2006)Retrieved from: https://www.azores.gov.pt/NR/rdonlyres/5269CA5D-562B-4B43-B9DE-1839F2BEDF7F/118203/RayHudson.pdf

 

 

[2] Jullien, F. (2014). Vivre du paysage ou l’impensé de la Raison. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, p. 161

 

[3] Nancy, J.-L. (2009) Le plaisir au déssin. Éditions Galilée, pp. 14, 16, 73

 

[4] Müller, Valentine (1943). The Shrine of Janus Geminus in Rome. American Journal of Archaeology, 47, pp. 437-440

 

 

 

QUIET SUN

 

Description of the artefact

 Quiet sun (derived from the Latin sol, "Sun," and stitium, "stoppage," as the Sun resembles to stand still)[1] is a 16mm film, consisting of the recording of the passage from one day to another (a period of 24 hours), in the Faroe Island, during the solstice summer, in June, 2015.   The film covers the solstice length inward an hotel, from sunset to sunrise, even though several images reveal the constant presence of outwards light through doors and windows. 

 

To make this film, I used a 16mm Bolex camera and a 11mm kern paillard lens, to better exploit the direct light printing in film.  The 16mm film reel used was a 50D vision3 kodak, colour negative film, recorded at 24fps, f.4.0.  These were the balanced parameters, defined while the sun was still above the horizon. These parameters were not adapted for different light conditions, i.e. during the “sun dip” below the horizon, as they should be if attempting to preserve a correct light equalization setup. That is, the light absorbance in the film without manual or automatic compensations, result in deliberated under-exposed images for most of its length. Thus, the film was grabbing subtle changes in environment light, depending uniquely on its own chemical process, without any other interferences during the solstice.

 

This film, further telecined to digital, is 2’00’’ duration, is publicly presented in loop, in order to flatten the chronological linearity to an endless movement.   

 

Questions

  I attempted to activate a disruption of my perceptions and conceptions of the world, throughout  not only a displacement of myself to an unknown territory, but also by challenging my habits of time passage, which are based on my living experience in latitudes where the day-to-night cycles, even during solstices, always occur within the visual (and affective) association of light-to-dark. Therefore, I decided to travel for the first time to extreme latitudes, electing the Faroe Islands. This happened, as mentioned before, during the summer solstice, June 21st 2015. Imperious questions led me to this experience: How may I, as an observer, purposely disrupt my perception , which is based on previous knowledge and experience? Is it possible to obliterate a habit of perception? If yes, how will I be able to recognize the observable differently? What happens to the observer that attempts to observe the observable that may exist as a non-observable? What if the non-observable relies only in the ideals, habits and theories of the observer? In addition, because this is a time-based experience, how can the observer know that the time setting is correct, i.e. that it allows to respectively see the observable/non-observable?

 

 

Description of the research process

     I decided to undergo into the presented questioning by travelling specifically to the Faroe Islands for two main reasons: the first is directly connected to its position in an extreme northern hemisphere. To experience a solstice in such geographical latitude on Earth, close to the northern Earth pole, allowed me to perceive for the first time the absence of night and thereof getting closer to my questioning.  By doing so, the aim of this journey was to challenge my inherent habit of time cycles which are based on my living experience of day-to-night (in opposition to this specific situation of day-to-day).

 

  The second reason addresses to the peculiar geopolitical position of the islands in relation to Continental Europe as peripherical (the same way it occurs with Azores Islands and further observed. See artefact 3.4), that is to say, outwards the edge of the main living centres, thus, in the limit of geopolitical activity. I see these outwards or edgy territories as triggers of the immanent potential and therefore open to opportunity (see chapter 2.3), as they lack the habit and social use of main urban sites. It is in the smoothness of these kind of territories (term I appropriate from Deleuze and Guattari to reflect the islands low-metricized qualities, derived from a lack of massive urbanistic architecture, isolated and surrounded by the ocean, giving the feeling of absence of marks, patterns and order), that most of my research is being experimented. Similar affections can be generated in sites like deserts, high mountains, oceans and other low urbanized places. They have in common the absence or low visual geometries and social recognizable signs or references, from which modern human orientation relies. 

 

The only plan I defined in advance of undertaking this experiment, was to use analogue film. The main reason of such option is based in its more immediate response in receiving and printing light than it would happen if using digital devices.  Even though, I didn’t prepare any script or pre-production, neither had a certain idea if I would really use the camera or any other medium, during the process. The main question I had in mind was to test how me, as an observer (as a living entity) could change my perception from categorized knowledge or preconception of time. I could say that by choosing a possible medium, I was pre-arranging a set of strategies, but without attributing them instructions, the strategic tools instantly lose its motto and becomes purposely incomplete and dysfunctional. By not having a methodical plan, I could essay a new approach regarding my research – less objective than it is supposed to be - my lack of fixed goal, led me to research through the active-inertia, which I define by a torpid awareness similar to the feeling of searching for something that we have never seen before, just relying on some description made by others. This allowed me to continuously adapt and react without a preconceived structure.  

 

The act of waiting for a lagging and erratic event, may be another strategy for purview . In this state of tedious prostration, we fail to be precise, neglecting our tasks, and unintentionally evoking the anti-metaphor (disrupting the ideals) , through torpor and derivation. It is this state of active-inertia that, without any premeditation on its own, becomes evident.  

 

It was also during the research process, that a particular reference taken from the state-of-art, came to my mind, even though I knew this work since a long time, the urgency of mentioning it just arise in the moment I saw myself attempting a similar movement.  Bas Jan Ader ‘s 16mm film “Night Fall” is a 4’16’’ recorded performance consisting in the desire of the artist to synchronise his body with the day to night passage, thereof “falling” with the same speed, as the sun disappears below the horizon. He adds to his literal fall over, a cultural connotation with failure, a conceptual mark of most of his works.

 

 Quiet Sun has several similarities with Bas Jan Ader approach, once it is also an attempt of attaining an indiscernible event, which by failing, becomes nevertheless, an embodied knowledge.  This latency and derivation are revealed in this artefact by the intention of acquiring the best as possible a solstice, a day-to-day passage, demanding physical effort, like staying awake for a 24 hours periods and an adaptation to light, confronting the habit of night. Failure or fallacy is also evoked in the way it is difficult to ascribe the actual night fall – the film viewer would not recognize the night scene, the same way I didn’t. However Quiet Sun is not only the recording of a particular experience - by being settled publicly as an installation, screened and in loop - it preserves the disruptive time - one might inquire where is the observable, as well as its time-based limits - the beginning and the end of an apparent movement. 

 

  Therefore, Quiet Sun does not work as a hermetic documentation or image-based archive of theoretical reflections about the solstice, it activates other times by being an improvisation, filmed while engaging in the experiment and later rearranged as infinite loop, in order to preserve the feeling of disrupted times. Even though there was an anticipatory will of achieving this solstice phenomenon in this specific place, all aesthetic choices while using the film medium were drawn during the same temporality of the event itself. My conception of night as a dark period didn’t change suddenly. It is even impossible to determinate when the transformation in my habit occurred, or even if it occurred (my habit didn’t change, it just trembled by confusion). Reason why this film inscribes the utter process of doing this work, from the (un)preparation until its final transmission, the active-inertia that took me over to apprehend indiscernible and unknown occurrences.

 

 

 

Insights

Quiet Sun was produced during the second year of my PhD research and engages with the preliminary objections regarding, essentially, the setting up of a rite of passage, the non-event and how to define the strategies to recognize something new.

 

During the process of observation of what I would identify as a smooth event (displacing Deleuze and Guattari definition of smooth fields regarding unmeasurable and trembling territories[4], to the order of time) – by cause of being confronted with an unsettled situation, where the only possible action is to derive, moving in-between the precedent and the subsequent and amidst the idea and the manifest, inscribing, in the western conception of action, a new sense of torpor. This derivation, or torpor would be seen as a contradictory approach to the definition of awareness, however it is well applied when the awareness is related to a passage - as something that moves, constantly changing, requiring an embracement of the whole – the precise and the undefined - once there isn’t, by definition, a fixed or permanent stage.   

 

Taking this as an utterly approach, that goes from the perception of passage towards the sense of opportunity, I concluded that despite the fact I was challenging my knowledge and the processes of acquiring it throughout sleepiness and vague movements, I could produce a contingent artefact, in the way it results in accurate essence of a documentation. This artefact was not prepared, neither refined. It is in the absence of instructions, relying on the embodied affection and caring improvised decisions, verifying a particular awareness of a new experiment, as well as a sleepy and torpor sensation that, altogether, best reveal its efficacy.  

 

To apprehend through absences (e.g. absence of what becomes familiar by repetition – habit)  and other similar exercises allows for a placid abandonment of ideals. An ideal is formed in the basis of experience. Anything that disrupts experienced knowledge, will consequently bend the enclosure of an ideal.  Still, the means remain – materials we deem to recognize and stubbornly classify. This difficult process of approaching the unknowable by means of the unknown is referred in Abraham’s psychoanalysis as anasemic tools[5]. He introduces this concept to designate “the status of concepts which, tough deliberately disruptive of a unifying, conscious self, outline, the ultimate unconscious sense or source of disruption”[6].   I'd rather ascribe these means of perception the function of purview. During a visual approach, we metaphorically collide with an image, rebating its scale and distance and the successive variations thereof. That is, by observing effects through affection, the external view of the observer becomes somehow manifested in the body, haptic.   As the Indian philosopher Krishnamurti used to say, while discoursing about the state of enlightenment – in full awareness, the observer becomes the observed[7]. The opportunity also happens in that strain between the being position within-the-world. The mentioned torpor and active-inertia stand in this constant dispersion between the manifest and the image.  

 

Indeed, while wandering inside the hotel, I had the sensation of a dystopic scenario, where every furniture is composed in order to sustain an event that could initiate anytime – open rooms, dressed tables, lights on. 

The artificial light set majorly contributed for this sensation, resembling dysfunctional during this day-night cycle interruption. The aesthetics of this artificial illumination inwards this hotel, mostly fluorescent blue and green neon, is usually more common in night entertainment venues, such as bars, probably for its dreamy effects, as these colours are more associated with fiction than the real – white and yellow light colours resemble more with natural sunlight than bright fluorescent green, which first appeared during technological revolution, due to Hewitt’s discovery by passing an electric current through mercury vapor and incorporating a ballast, which resulted in the blue-green light[8]

  Strangely, this hotel used the same type of lights in every sector, including in the business meeting room and corridors, amplifying this ambience of techno imagery. One could easily feel a decalage or incoherence between the natural and artificial lighting.  

 

  Shooting such scenario with analogue film also contributed for a trembling effect of the image, that is coherent with my conceptual aims – it functions with the afterimage and the apparent movement. What appears to be or what is about to come is not revealed. Indeed, there is an obvious stillness in every footage, which might suggest to the spectator the night time context in which these images were grabbed - the period of low human activity, the resting time – Quiet Sununfolds through different static images and slowly enunciates an undefined time, empty areas, empty chairs, dressed tables and presence lights, exalting the sensation of expectation, like a theatrical scenario without its actors, the aesthetical set for the opportunity that I am seeking for... The passage of that non-night, revealed total absence of any event, no major changes could be noticed for a period of 24 hours. What remained was the constant opportunity for its occurrence.

 To film this absence of action, throughout empty spaces and obscured forms, was actually the only solution I found to grab some recognition of the passage of night. Thus, the film is a clear attempt to understand night by any other means than the habit of darkness. 

 

Although the decisions taken about the medium, the chosen camera device, have an important role either in its aesthetics and conceptual concerns – the most crucial remark of this artefact resides in the exploration of the embodied knowledge  and in its attempt to reactivate it, not only by documenting it, but by displaying it without editing, enabling to transmit the solipsism deriving from it. Even though I am aware of the partiality of such transmission, due to the fact that an embodied experience always depends of the individuality of its operator, its looping display, aesthetics in form and format (trembling appearance) preserve its disruptive effects.   The spectator has access to the rough footage and to every decision took during the film making. Nonetheless, it is a recording of my torpid awareness. The making of this film is also a struggle to avoid sleep, my inner habit of sleeping by night. I couldn’t avoid falling into a mood between rest and awareness, that is, I couldn’t accomplish any intention to gaze with precision, to become efficient from the western point of view. 

 

As seen, the preconception of night as the absence of sun, or at least the impossibility to observe it, caused by our position in relation to earth and its own rotation, is in tension along the film,[GS28]  while only slight changes in the intensity of daylight are perceived. It doesn’t attain the stage of the dark side – the obscure. Another way of experiencing the lack of obscurity, could be done by moving in the same speed at the earth rotation. Therefore, we could assert that it is in the displacement of the observer[GS29] , that other opportunities become possible.  

 

 Without the reposition of the observer, the disruption of preconceptions may not be achieved. That is to say, there is a movement too, a gesture or an action[9] [GS30] required, even if that utter process is done exclusively as a conceptual projection, [GS31] it is indeed an activity. 

 Even though, it is my individual expectancy, based on my cultural heritage and living experience, marked by a central-south European tradition (raised in France, living in Portugal) [GS32] that transforms the perception of this event into a non-event (as I dare to claim it, for contradicting my expectancies, my habit of events as self-revealing)[GS33] , an on-going phenomenon, in which I couldn’t define its beginning or ending, I am aware it is a sensorial fallacy – therefore a combination of what is real and what is illusion.    

 

The conclusions I take out of the practicing that occurred while producing this artefact, led me to better understand the different levels that may consist awareness.  The awareness of the presence through absences and vice-versa – I was able to observe, as I intended, what stands in the non- manifesting. I disrupted my habit and forced myself to adaptation. Through this artefact I intend to propel the importance of adaptation as a process that happens without time constrains. It was also revealing to me the importance in aesthetics of using adaptation in forms - to[GS34]  employ a shape that attains a different form, demands from this process a flexible matter – sort of stretching, loosening up conformism. The flexibility or adaptability of an image boundaries resonates with camouflage effects as a form that bends to fit another or assumes the lines of something external to it. This flexibility or malleability[10] is simultaneously revealed in concept and in the materialization of Quiet Sun [GS35]  through the non-rigid strategy applied, as exemplified above, as well as film was self-adapting to light conditions and scenes and objects showed up in that twinkling and unprecise ambient. This alsopropelled my research into deeper reflections regarding the several forms of knowledge (see chapter 2.2) and how it may be re-activated (see chapter 2.3). 

 

   I may settle by referring that this artefact underlies similar knowledge than the one acquired through the observation of a green ray [GS36] – it is from the knowledge that remained from the green ray phenomenon qualities, like the continuous adaptation to an unknown environment, the eminency of an event as an open field for every possibility, the active-inertia implied in such observations, that allowed me to better transmit it throughout this practical work and therefore it is included in this research as one of the selected artefacts, that contributes to the whole of this research.  

 



[1] solstice. (n.d.) Farlex Trivia Dictionary. (2011). 

Retrieved on November 6th, 2018 from: https://www.thefreedictionary.com/solstice

 

[2] Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (1987) A thousand plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia. University of Minnesota Press 

[3]  

Nightfall, Bas Jan Ader, 16mm, 4 min 16 sec.  

 

[4] Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (1987) A thousand plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia. University of Minnesota Press 

[5] Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, The Shell and the Kernel. Chicago: The University Press of Chicago, 1994, p. 23.

 

[6] Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, The Shell and the Kernel. Chicago: The University Press of Chicago, 1994, p. 77

 

[7] J Krishnamurti. (August 2012) The Observer Is the Observed:  1945-1948: The Collected Works of J. Krishnamurti: Volume 4 (v. 4). Krishnamurti Foundation America

 

 

[8] Matt Helland (2015). The evolution of the light bulb.

Retrieved from: https://www.energyprofessionals.com/renewable-energy/evolution-of-the-lightbulb/

[9] Notes: Vitalism has always had two possible interpretations: that of an Idea that acts

but is not-that acts therefore only from the point of view of an external

cerebral knowledge (from Kant to Claude Bernard); or that of a force that is

but does not act-that is therefore a pure intentional Awareness (from Leibniz

to Ruyer). If the second interpretation seems to us to be imperative, it is

because the contraction that preserves is always in a state of detachment in

relation to action or even to movement and appears as a pure contemplation

without knowledge.

 

Deleuze and Guattari, (2005) Qu' est-ce-que Ia philosophie?. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, p. 201.

[10] Notes: As Heidegger terms flexibility “coming-into-the-nearness-of-distance.”, he then exemplifies with the sight of the sky: “Everything that shimmers and blooms in the sky and thus under the sky and thus on earth, everything that sounds and is fragrant, rises and comes – but also everything that goes and stumbles, moans and falls silent, pales and darkens”.

 

Heidegger. “…Poetically Man Dwells…”, in Petry, Language, Thinking, p. 225. 

 

Notes: The sky as an open expanse with a flexible limit conforms to what Idhe describes as the Eastern as opposed to the early Western conception of the hravens: “In the early cosmologies of the West, the sky was the dome of the heavens and seen as solid, its color was the color of the dome. In the East, the sky is the open and color recedes infinitely within the openness” 

 

Ihde, Don. (2012) Experimental Phenomenology.  State University of New York: Suny Press, p.92 


 

 LA LONGUE DURÉE: STRUCTURE/ CONJONCTURE / ÉVÈNEMENT

 

 

Description of the Artefact 

La Longue Durée: structure, conjoncture, évènement consists in a series of works which are presented as a unity-in-plurality.  It has been exhibited in Arquipélago Contemporary Art Centre, from May to July 2018.  Four mediums are easily distinguishable being three of them correspondent to one of the sub-title’s terms, as I explain:   

Helena et Olivier – video installation (see image). Consists on a Digital video projection 6:9, 19’ duration. It documents the witnessing of a desert’ sunset enacted by two characters (male and female). Integrated in this installation there is a physical structure at the eastern side of the projection – a plinth with a glass bell, which only contains water vapour (a hidden device under the plinth hits a water container, in order to humidify the visible glass surface). Nearby the end of three months exhibiting period, the accumulated vapour was so elevated, that it became increasingly visible in the form of water drops, draining from glass surfaces.

Structure – tent structure with nearly 6 meters height though variable dimensions -  it bends to the exhibition architectural structure. The shape is drawn by the gallery in reflection to flexibility and adaptation.   

Conjoncture – series of 9 smaller objects, displayed on the floor, made with materials collected or used during the desert trip: compressed coal in Arabic gum; wood oud; lenses; desert stone; sand - elements that are rearranged on hold.  

Évènement – schematic drawing. Oil pastel over linen fabric. 60x60cm. It is an objective interpretation of scientific schemes used to explicit the sunset negative dip (see chapter 2.2).

 

Questions

  Despite the available publications pointing out to a western green ray “discovery”, that is being qualified as the only existential statements of its reports (despite the great improbability of that fact), it ascribes a nostalgic heroism to the European navigators which resonates to the colonization period, when the discovery of “new worlds”, was exclusively credited to the Europeans. During my trip to the Middle East, I wanted to film a sunset, from its opposite direction – facing East, and with my back to the West. My intention was to merely provoke a counter-directing vision of the West, by just turning my back over a green ray opportunity. My questioning may be systemized as so: Departing from a traditional scientific system in Europe, which recognizes in publications and reports the only valuable institutional knowledge, how to oppose to such formalities? How to avoid the documentation as the only format of knowledge production? By witnessing a sunset backwards to it, from an opposite perspective, what can be manifested?      

 Another set of questions aroused during the exhibition montage process in Azores, concerning on the means to re-set and re-activate the aesthetics and affections gained during a very specific situation and experimentation in another place and time, not by just representing it, but replaying within its tensions along its displacement in place and time.    

 

 

Description of the research process

In March 2018, I was invited to exhibit at the Arts Centre of the New York University of Art, Abu Dhabi, UAE a previous work. Because I had a free time during the montage, I took the opportunity to go for a trip to the country desert, in order to expand my research on smooth fields.  

NYUAD hired a guide to bring me to the Liwa desert, as I requested, which is located in the border between United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia - a dotted area, in all its oscillating flares of oil wells.

Seeking along my reflections, for miraging effects, so common in deserts, my main purpose was to reflect better about the eastern perspective of the horizon, in the smoothness of a desert. I wanted to redirect my habitual position which is so often facing the west, as living nearby the Atlantic Ocean it is inevitably the preferable sight (once again, confronting the habit of my living experience, see chapter 3.1 – Quiet Sun), to the East, inflated by the desert provocations in perception. 

 

 For doing so, I spent 9 days and nights in the desert with the Arabian guide, apprehending through shared thoughts and conversations, along with continuous sight of abstract landscapes, the differences between our habits and how to adapt to such a different environment. Our equipment consisted in a jeep, one tent, food supplies for a week, and water supplies for a month. We could access to GPS through mobile phones, though many areas were network constricted. 

 

  My intention to film the sunset facing East was achieved in the first day.  I prepared the camera to record the light gradation on the East landscape during the passage from day to night.  What was not deliberated and just happened to become included in the footage was the capture of me and the guide wandering in the field, while the camera was recording.  

I decided later to use this accidental process, once the appearance of two figures at distance is significantly increasing the space of divination from either landscape subtle changes and from the gestures, sometimes tiny, others large. 

The sound is granular, as it records the sand entering directly into the camera sound connectivity.

 

Later on, when invited to show my work on an exhibition, I attempt to reactivate my experience in the desert by re-setting the collected materials during that journey. The structure of the tent, glass, sand, coal, among others and display them as suspended in time, wishing to preserve the immanency of such experience. I entitled this set of works as structure and conjuncture, linking it to the objective dictionary definition: situation resulting from a combination of circumstances, events.[1]

 

Included in this project, is the making of a drawing which interprets the sunset negative dip schematization, using linen for the support and oil pastel for the inscription. The reason why I opted for fine arts traditional materials, was a form of activating my concerns about the art traditional means of materialization. More than a statement the use of such mediums inquires the image-phenomenon. This drawing is entitled Évènement – as it is the principal non-event, the double view of the sunset, that I was working on.    

 

In conjunction, these series of works act under the consideration of La Longue Durée – which is designated by the French historian Fernand Braudel, as a less segmented and framed History, a comprehensive time frame to avoid an objective regard of chronological history[2].  Braudel uses several exemplifications and formulations of La longue durée, for instance Ernst Robert Curtius’ account of the cultural system of Latin civilization from the fall of the Empire to the fourteenth century, as well as Pierre Francastel’s treatment of the ‘geometric space of Western painting.[3]. It is in this ambiguous gathering of times (see about Kairos, Chronos and Aion in the beginning of this chapter), in the strain between West and East, that I elaborated this practice.

 

Insights

As said previously, La Longue Durée – structure, conjoncture, évènement follows Fernand Braudel definition. It seeks the manifestation of a situation placed in time, repeated and preserved, through the means of art. 

 

To elaborate on this artefact insights, I will separate the two main processual moments of its realization. In the first stage, I assign the embodied experience I gained during my displacement to the middle east desert – Liwa Desert, UAE, March 2018. The second stage addresses to the process of re-activating it through the means of art, thus in a later moment and different location – Arquipélago Art Centre – Azores, May 2018. I elaborate my insights departing from each stage, as follows:  

 

Searching polarities from the Middle-East 

 The abstractive quality of immeasurable lands, to which Deleuze and Guattari called Smooth fields[4], is a set which opens to the immanency of events and therefore it implicates new strategies from its observer. However, to rethink the landscape throughout a less westernized focus, might reveal different aspects of such perception. 

As François Jullien wonders about what he considers his own suspicions:

“Je me demanderai donc, plus soupçonneux, si nous ne sommes pas partis d’une mauvaise definition du paysage, en Europe: d’une definition, en tout cas, qui a brimé, constraint, meurtir peut-être, ce possible qu’il est (…)”[5]  

 

 Despite the fact European landscapes, such as the oceanic or sea sights, contain the smoothness referred by Deleuze and Guattari[6],  the Heideggerian earlier definition of landscape as the Being towards-the-World, is better understood in the West (as seen in chapter 2.3), than it would be in the East, where the meaning of opportunity and contingency comes out of open space. The desert though, has the capacity to, independently of its location, rebut this one-way-towards-the-world backwards to the Being, as an immensely and unsurpassable field, where the amount of life is so oppressed, that the physical awareness for survival, immediately overpass the observable as something at sight, at distance or external from the being. The urgency of a reference in desert sighting happens at every moment, and, despite the seemingly static environment, it is trembling - the entire visual field is distorted, just as in a mirage – the wind barely unnoticeable reshapes dunes; light easily acquires different color grading, from bright white to sulfuric color, depth of field is hard to precise, no one can be assured of the real and illusionary segments of forms.         

 

 Being this specific desert located in the Middle-East, I was addressing to it, as a geographic metaphor in-between West and East. My reflexing strategies on how to move in such unmeasurable fields of contingency (possibility in balanced tension with impossibility) were influenced by both polarities, in the way I defined a goal to pursuit, as well as I allowed unpremeditated situations to happen (as mentioned before, the figures were accidentally integrated in the video frame that was pointing only to the horizon). The subtle figurative appearance (figures stand at distance, their scale in relation to the frame is minimal) provide a better effect-affect dimension.  Such landscape qualities are also brought by Julien, as the affective resources: 

    “Quand l’extérieur que j’ai sous les yeux sort de son indifférence et de as neutralitée: c’est d’um tel couplage que naît du “paysage”. Il y a paysage quand je ressens em même temps que je perçois; ou disons que je preçois alors du dedans comme du dehors de moi même – l’étanchéité qui me fait tenir en sujet independent s’estompe. Ou, pour le dire em termes plus catégoriels, et ce sera ma nouvelle définition du paysage: il y a paysage quando le perceptif se révèle em même temps affectif.”[7]

 

  The main insights brought from this experience are clearly shaped by these effect-affection dichotomies or “coplage” (coupling), as Jullien names it. As said, dealing with distant horizons through a smooth field, the awareness resulting from such visual effects, like mirage, latency and contingency, could only be apprehended from perception throughout affection – the embodied knowledge becomes even more amplified if, what in my opinion is lacking in Jullien’s definition, exploring a strange or uninhabited place.    

 

 Though, from the knowledge acquired during the PhD research and departing of my will to better reflect on the subject of Western and Eastern differentiations regarding the efficacy of actions, I could script the intention of experiencing the sunset desert facing East, which became incredibly nourishing, as a major set for effect-affect interplays. 

 

First of all, even though it is not directly related to my research questioning, I can’t avoid to mention the presence of a guide who was directing the way of displacing in the field. This differentiates from the other artefact’s processes, where usually are undertaken alone. In this case, the field was unknown to me, but familiar to the guide. It was the combination between my will to produce my film in a specific set (facing the Eastern horizon) and safety procedures that at last, draw the journey structure.  

 

The tensions between beauty and violence, familiar and stranger, East and West was easily dissipated during the first hours in the desert, even though I could feel what I might describe as a disturbing softness. The desert is astonishing beautiful, for its bright light, warm colors and sinuous lines, sand is soft and feels comfortable, but the rarity of life, water and motion and the conscient harshness of survival, vibrates in this place as a lethal poison. Though, at some point, which is indeterminate, such tensions become imperceptible, one might not realize body dehydration and I guess this often happens. I can say I could relate to such field beyond the western sight – the sunset observation by two figures towards East allowed me to better assemble the Being and the View, as it became a living landscape, where major events happen not at sight, but during its dip, in the other side (see chapter 2.2). 

 

It is a reactivation of the desert qualities, arid and dry, as of the affections I gain, while facing the East in such land, that I had to translate to another place – Azores islands, otherwise shrouded in water.   

 

The video is projected in the gallery space, not to illustrate the research or become a documental piece. It displays an accidental processual moment. It contradicts the West by facing to the East, during the sunset – the event I was looking for. For these reasons it becomes a non-event. 

As mentioned in the description, I entitled the video recording Helene et Olivier, in the memory of Verne’s Le Rayon Vert main characters, whom during the whole narrative attempt to observe the perfect green ray gazebo - a clear and unobstructed western horizon – letting themselves to be lost. I don’t pursue to observe the green ray, by sight, which has already been done, but I employ the same searching strategies towards other directions. I became more aware of the double-images and the intangible dimension coming from it. 

This video is in dialogue with the wet bell glass. The effect is similar to the one if some living body would be breathing inside it. Its absence provokes the inquiring of presence.

 

To reactivate the desert insights, I decided to use the materials that I collected in the desert, as a kind of archaeological artefacts, which were just found and unveiled, with a supplementary and emancipatory gesture on it. I can’t avoid to work within place and time, therefore this enacted situation had to be moulded by the new location.   I wanted to exhibited these pieces, not by disposing them, but as if they were just released, freely occupying this new place, without order, filling it the new challenging boundaries and clearly adapting to it, as it is evident they don’t originally belong there. 

I could elaborate further by enunciating each of the piece’s insights, but all of them extols in a similar way, as objects that gather some immanent situation, as they could be interacted at any moment. I.e. a chess board made of desert sand, a pair of lenses intersected (one convex other concave in order to reply view to the origin scale), pieces of oud fragile aligned, coal abstract figures (visions of burnt memories) laid on the gallery floor, apparently left in the middle of some situation, disarranged.   

   

Évènement, the drawing upright the installation scene, is schematic of the mirage effect to which we have access from the sunlight refraction caused by the earth curvature and the trembling horizon caused by temperature differentiations - the last segment of sun sighted is no longer there, it is its doubled image – a possibility for the green ray dispersion. 

 

The choosing of mediums are per se the insights, as they ascribe the overall thinking and decisions about their qualities in relation or tension with the content. They reflect themselves, as doubled-images. 

 

 

[1] Retrieved from: https://www.linternaute.fr/dictionnaire/fr/definition/conjoncture/

 

[2] Tomich, D. (2011) The Order of Historical Time: The Longue Durée and Micro-History. Almanack. Guarulhos, n.02, pp. 52-65

 

[3] BRAUDEL, F. (1978) History and the Social Sciences: The Longue Durée. Immanuel Wallerstein, trans. Review, vol. XXXII, n.2, pp. 179-180

 

 

[4] Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (1987) A thousand plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia. University of Minnesota Press 

 

[5] Jullien, F. (2014). Vivre du paysage ou l’impensé de la Raison. Éditions Gallimard 

 

[6] Deleuze, G. and Guattari., F. Ibid. 

 

[7] Jullien. Ibid. pp 89, 90.

DOUBLE DOUBLE  

 

 

 

Description of the artefact 

Double Double is an audiovisual essay which stands in-between document and fiction, produced during a three-month artistic residency held at the Art Center Ongoing, in Tokyo, with the purpose to practice-as-research my PhD focus, and gain deeper insights, regarding its four main topics. Therefore, the film is displayed as the main artefact for the research examination. During the residency, a series of talks have been fostered with mostly independent creative workers, such as artists, musicians, curators, filmmakers... The selection of participants was done almost casually, but taking into consideration their non-institutionalized activities. These scheduled meetings happened every week, during the sunset time, a time frame I imposed, as a transformative context between day and night, as well as the passage period between working activities towards after-work. Questionings raised point towards the most emergent processes of transformation in Japan and how such quests might be activated through non-events, that is, non-official events, artistic, clandestine or out of mainstream, and how it reflects the emergent feelings of change.  

My aim was to discusse about such transformative issues in japanese culture, while proposing an event-talk with site-specificities, as a rite of passage.   

 

This artefact uses the mediation of filming techniques to evolve throughout different scenes, departing from sound recordings of the super typhon Hagibis passage in Tokyo, one of the greatest typhons in recorded history. Like all-natural phenomenon, it is impossible to predict how much it will affect the environment and such unplanned experience was nevertheless in close connection to my previous artistic research projects (see Quiet Sun; La Longue Durée), that is, about the expectation for the unknown and the increased potential between effects and affects, science and faith. These sound recordings are displayed in the beginning of each chapter. In the introduction, it is combined with footage portrait of Hikaru Suzuki, a japanese independent filmmaker, who participates in this film as a silent actor, the one who quietly observes and appears punctually, in moments of waiting or resting. His silent participation reenacts my own difficulties in getting a clear understanding of either Japanese language and social codes and norms. 

       

The film develops further into reflections about the actual state-of-the art and how to overcome modernity as one of the orators propose, or, I would say, technopastism, once it represents the westernization initiated, as mentioned by Ujino and Nozomu Ogawa, by the American bombings in WWII.

 

Despite the absent auto-narration - which is only assumedly present in the brief introductory text, in which I expose my intentions - the material’s edition openly plays as a guiding line, transposing each of the 4 chapters, in a semi-linear sequence, that is, there is a sequential structure, even though one could read it in reverse, or in different order combinations, without losing its content-wise strain. The use of open film editing, like simultaneous and partial visualization, named miegakure technique (which consists on hiding and reveal), fake linearity and the opening of shadows and time perceptions.   

 

 This short film is, at once, a documentation and an artefact in the way the use of images and editing provokes decalages (sound and image are not always correspondent, neither is the original and the edited time, being disrupted and fictional). These techniques intend to provide to the film’s spectator a better engagement with the concepts.  One is guided throughout digital waterfalls, art spaces, talks and translations, rising sun flags, urban designs, teenagers in underground venues of Tokyo, as well as inebriated salaryman, IKEA stores and finally, invisible waves grabbed and remixed in the air.     

   

Questions

 The first 3 chapters are specifically related to my PhD research questions, which might be formulated as follows: how to move towards smooth fields? How to overcome from westernized ideals and mystifications?  How underground and sub-cultural agents play a role into such transitions? How a stranger or a flâneur may, through its presence and interaction with locals, produce a more efficient, or at least, more open thoughts regarding the site-specific situation? And finally, how deviation behaviours, the search for mirages or miracles, play a crucial role in the formal operative systems, that is, the working and hermetic models?  

Ideally, I intend with this research to gain more knowledge regarding such questioning and, using my own experience as a mediation, I propose an artistic outcome about Western and Eastern differentiations of its own perceptions of structures of knowledge and how the employment of such models might become an exercise of resistance against fixed methods - a combined West-East heritage imagery towards the openness of new models of operativity, in pace with the times, towards a transcultural contemporaneity.  

 

 

Relation to the research topics and questions

All different sequences in the film intertwin with the aesthetical aspects and qualities of the green ray, which are articulated throughout the following sections:   

 

The first research topic – Displacement and Translations: The Flâneur - is articulated within my first departure as a European citizen towards Far-East. I find relevant for the theme of my research and as its mediator, to get an embodied experience, by travelling into place. Therefore, such artistic residency programs suits my research needs. The given conditions allow an apprehension of the local culture within a cultural context that would barely be achieved in other way. By doing so, I can move as a flâneur (taking the connotation by Walter Benjamin[1]), without previous significant understanding of Japan.

 These flaneuries are displayed along the entire film, with more emphasis in Chapter I “Smooth Intro” and Chapter II “The state-of-the-art: the Oracle’s view”, as my first exploratory questionings, expressed through the collecting of sounds and images. 

 

This research project began by wandering, observing trivial situations and attempting to recognize social behaviors, which were drastically different than the ones I was familiar with. Namely, the apparent order of an over-populated city, that by following certain rules, i.e. forbidden phone calls, eating, dancing or smoking in public places, leads to an apparent collective quietude. Nevertheless, this sense of serenity is drastically disrupted by uninterrupted sounds coming out from loud speakers, disposed in most of public and semi-public spaces, such as stores, departments and stations. Such sounds are played in short loops, emitting information and jingle music commercials. Such devices add a paradox between natural and artificial atmosphere that, if moving through the city, one can’t avoid to experience. 

 

Similar reflections were emphasized by the hit of the super-typhoon Hagibis just few days after my arrival, as mentioned above. It forced the population to prepare and wait for the effects of such natural phenomena. Without any specific method, unless the covering of sharp surfaces with smooth clothing, the contradictory feeling between the violent phenomena, in comparison to the waiting and low-active attitude of people, while waiting for its passage, drove me into a new experience, from which I got to know how such frequent phenomena might influence the local cosmologic culture, their faith for invisible ghosts and spirits, as well as their philosophical strain focusing concepts such as the absolute and nothingness.  

Such remarks are pertinent for the purpose of their intelligibility. To be placed within an intelligible or unknown context is how I find, in relation to the green ray, that new in-between knowledge is triggered. From the lack of references, one will use cross-specific knowledge, combining scientific with speculative discourses to apprehend a non-understandable situation. The oracles, the metaphysics and cosmologies (animistic rituals, more than religion-based acts) are, by consequence, included in the culture. 

 

  If we trace this logic of placing, or displacing, we will get to the question that there is something which is lost on the way, that is, the unprecedent knowledge – the not-knowing. This not-knowing is as much interesting for my research as the processes of achieving new knowledge. 

 

The passage from not-knowing to the stage in which one who achieves understanding is usually done, in such contexts, by processes of translation. In this case, the english-speaking japanese inhabitants are few, resulting in a mostly empathetic communication and a kind of divinatory operation dealing with the received information.Nevertheless, it is in such lack of efficient translations, in its lapses and gaps, that I am able to produce an imagery narrative, a fictionized understanding of what I am attempting to perceive. More than a failing approach, I find in these cases, the potential of a creative outcome.

  

It is important to point out, that my research focuses not only about a common learning process, which can be found almost in every situation, I am specifically interested in the strangeness or flânerie processes of knowing, once it gathers very specific qualities: the fact that there is an awareness of not knowing from both the stranger and the inhabitant, meaning it is not an operation stricted in a self-learning task, but it is a mutual transmission between the outsider and the visited forms or inhabitants. Both elements activate these forces of empowerment. Actually, the stranger would have, at first analysis, a weaker advantage, driven from his ignorance regarding a new positioning. I find particularly interesting that these roles might be reversed, throughout the creation of new narratives generated by translations and the inevitable abstractization of cultural codifications. 

 

This habit or the rehearsal of abstraction is one of the requiries of the green ray, which I evoked by accepting the non-understanding of either language or gestures. The outcome from such experience drove me to work more on the basis of sound, talks and translations, than in previous works I’ve done until then and along my PhD research. 

That is, to move towards unprecedent territory, recognizing sound and languages as an abstract mass is one of the commitments that I pursue, the same way it is required for the green ray observations. I engage with abstraction, the unexpected and the ambivalent perception of either real and illusionary factors. Such combined situations are sought for the production of each of the selected artefacts.   

 

 

The second topic – Negative dip, distortion and the obsoletism of the real  points towards the aesthetics generated by the green ray optical and formal qualities.  

The negative dip is the scientific name given to a mirage effect caused by the curvature of the Earth, which enables a sunset observer to visualize the sun’s last portion, even though it is already out of sight. The visible is actually, like every mirage, an illusion. Therefore, the scientific methodologies must be always aware of such illusionary effects, which can easily disturb mathematical or physical data.    

 The negative dip implies that the “real form” is hidden in a negative space, that is, the non-perceivable space, in relation to a fixed view of the horizon (which stands by opposition in the “positive space”).  Such distortions of perception play a crucial role in the conceptualization of what is real and fictional. 

  In a search for similar boundaries and through the scope of contemporary art, I initiated several journeys exploring clandestine clubs in Tokyo and meeting with prominent underground noise musicians like Ito Atsuhiro, as well as theater companies, namely the Black Opera. I was interested in understanding how such productions are maintained, as independent and clandestine; which kind of public it attracts and why such tendencies are so extremely particular in Japan.  

 

These situations are included in chapter III of the film-artefact “Overcoming modernity or the affections of distortion”. The chapter begins with scenes recorded during an underground live performance by Ito Atsuhiro, one of the artists who is interviewed. However, instead of displaying images of his performance, I was more interested in observing the audience. I wanted to grab such instants throughout the vision of its consumers. I can describe them as mostly young man, who seek for extremely noisy and high-beat sounds and visual stimulation, to reach a kind of trance experience. 

 Similar stimulations are noticeable, as mentioned above, during the sunset time, when all workers, mostly salaryman, the normative representative figure of Japan – recognizable by wearing suit and suitcase – go through a short but intensive period of alcoholism and inebriation, that results in trembling gestures. As soon as the work-time is over, in-between day and night, it is a known habit, that most of these workers will drink large amounts of alcohol, to enter in a transformative stage between efficient productivity towards an ungovernable, perhaps, envisioning spirit. 

Through a negative dip - throughout incursions into obscure Tokyo venues (i.e. clandestine clubs) - and distortion - by observing moments of collective inebriation I recognize the most interesting disruptive situations, from which I can achieve insights about the quest to overcome modernity and its capitalistic notion of the real. 

 

Also, I got to know that japanese enterprises are specially known for presenting their honor principles of life and work, often enunciated by number and topic. This is applied in their terminologies, as the "honne" and "tatemae" - intertwined social play that integrate the apparent and the manifest, which results in such polarities of either straight and dismantled situations. It is a cyclic duality (different than ambiguity), which affects knowledge, power and operational structures.  

Likewise, attempts to describe japanese foreign policy included terms such as “semi-sovereign”, “reluctant” realism, “mercantile” realism, and “anti-militarism.”[1] The difficulty to categorize Japanese foreign policy reflects the underlying uncertainty—in East Asia and within Japan itself—about how Japan sees itself, its neighbors, and its role in the World History. For this reason, it is difficult to define their methods of resistance. As LaFleur explains, "the languages of China and Japan have a greater facility for expressing the mutuality and balance between what is and what is not: they are not as intrinsically tilted toward defining being as real and nonbeing as a privation. As languages, they do not give the benefit to the being side of thing" (1983, p.103)[2].

 

This broad search of the doubled methods in the west as in the east, reveals that the emphasis on the notions of normative work presents an opportunity to contemplate opposite behaviours considered ludic and non-productive for a quest of change, of overcoming technicity. Such provoked distortions and loss of control, operates in the negative sphere, non-formal and without any method, where chance might play a role again. In fact, one can say such rites, happen to move against the method.  

 

In every studied cases, that is, either the young man who search for extreme sounds in clandestine venues, as well as the after-work alcoholism by salaryman (one could easily find other rites, but for the reasons of the limited amount of time of my residency, I selected these) seek for extreme stimulation and ungovernable control, that is, an attempt to distort reality, and undergo through doubled images, even if just for short instances. Actually, it is of my opinion that such stimulation would be lost if these events would become continuous, once it seems more revolutionary to disrupt norms, through incisive moments, in-between the gaps of working times. 

 

 Such scenes are represented in the film-artefact, playing in contrast with the traditional discipline found, i.e. in martial arts and urbanized environments (images of a woman practicing Jo, as well as clean, urban designs, remembering the aesthetics of actual contemporary art). 

 

The third topic – The Green Ray beyond the Western Scope – focuses on the questioning about how to produce transformative sets, in pace with the times and taking into consideration the gained knowledge, beyond of a westernized-based model. 

 

 As reflected in the first topic, to displace oneself towards abstraction, the unknown and the strange stimulates envisions and implicates a change, but how can we reactivate such operations in order to use it as a strategical tool? I would like to engage with such site-specific knowledges, out of national boundaries, to provide a transcultural set, through the means of art. 

 

For doing so, it is crucial to get a deeper recognition of which boundaries surround us. This means one has to be aware of either geographical placements, as well as evidences of local strains of philosophy, and how it diverges from place to place. Specially for self-perceptions of concepts such as center, border and nothingness.

In Japan, the main philosophical studies were brought up by The Kyoto School, referred as the unique institution that provided relevant philosophical insights, in all modern Asia[2].   

 Nishida Kitaro, Tanabe Hajime and Tosaka Jun were the most prominent figures of this philosophical school, best known for its influence in a post-World War II Japanese feeling of ultranationalism and cosmopolitanism, but also regarding the concept of nothingness as an ideal of eastern cultures.   

 One of the reasons that seems to have influenced a negative memory of Kyoto School’s philosophical work came out not precisely from their theoretical insights,  which are mainly related to metaphysics - structured as the logic of Basho and the notion of absolute nothingness (with a strong cultural emphasis in Asian religions or philosophies, conjuring the sublime image of nature present in both nihilism by Chinese Confucianism, in the North and in the Hinduism in India towards Buddhism in southern Asia) – but how these insights were removed from context and placed into the act of elimination, as an achievement of absolute nothingness. Tanabe Hajime did a major impertinent step, by giving a public lecture, in which he promotes the need for students to offer their services in the World War II, as Kamikaze pilots (more than 1000 of the 3000 kamikaze pilots were university students of Philosophy or Art).   

Taking the Kyoto’s school case, an irrefutable factor is that Hajime, known for his ultranationalism in behalf of Japan and its spirit of the wealth, was probably influenced by his studies in the West, specifically, in the University of Berlin and the University of Freiburg, from 1922 to 1924 (I allow myself a personal comment at this point, regarding the fact that most of Japanese people I met in Tokyo, have done previous university studies in Germany – namely Hikaru Suzuki, who participates in the film - leading me to superficially ponder if these fundamental academic exchanges between these two nations, might still be a common practice nowadays, even though I didn’t go deeper into the analysis of such data, assuming this may fall into a speculative remark).  

 

 Nevertheless, it was a turning point for my own perception of Far-East and West cultural relations in pace with the times and consequently, towards my own research topics, to realize how these two poles are actually so much influenced by each other, having their periodic blossoms of reciprocity, i.e. during the late XIX century, known for the vogue in the west for an appreciation of Asian art and culture[3] and how the World War II, after the Pearl Harbor attack, led into an Americanization of Japan, with more durable effects than the Hiroshima Bomb, that is, in the notion of modernization, through the point of view of many Japanese, as the major heritage of the Americans bombing attack. Yuk Hui, Chinese philosopher, has mentioned in his book “The Question Concerning Technology in China. An Essay in Cosmotechnics[4]” that non-modern elements, such as primitive nature and Asian spiritual tradition were instrumentalized for the pan-Asian ambitions.

 

It also seems that from both West and East, there is a struggle in the way Eastern historicism is undermined by the standard World History, dominated by Europeans. That might be one of the reasons, why the green ray was “first” discovered, or at least, officially reported by Europeans. A fact that I got a better apprehension during this residency period, is that Japanese historicism lacks of published documentation and dissemination. The Kyoto’s school named such condition as the reason for a higher patriotism, which faded into militarism and ultimately the fall of the empire. This rather void in historicism, shows how cosmologies that suddenly happened in Europe regarding the green ray, happens in the East, but changing its form of ritualization. Instead of an individual outcome of transitory conditions or events, it leads Asians to collapse their desires towards a rather collective experience, which might be turn as much empowering as weakening forces.  

 

These historical considerations are important for my research, in which I trace new questions around differences between practice-based approaches in relation to its ideals from West to East. 

 Some of the forthcoming ideals are explicit in the artefact, specially throughout the audio comments in which desires to overcome modernization and westernization come abroad. It is also implied in the quest for oracle, opportunity and chance as a play towards a new outcome. 

  

Insights 

The gained knowledge achieved during the process of the residency and shared throughout this artefact crosses aesthetical and philosophical concerns regarding the western exaltation in Japan and the emergent need testified from alternative communities for a change, that would somehow from one side liberate East from West, from the other side rebuild its own identity in relation to a new World History, that should contemplate transcultural perspectives. 

 

The fourth and last chapter of this film-artefact operates as an artistic need to not only rise questions but to also contribute with an open form of displaying invisible information. It is therefore more related to cognitions gained by this artefact than the research questions. 

It consists in raw recording material of a live set that occurred at the rooftop of the Art Center Ongoing, during a sunset, in November 2019 (without any cut or post-production). 

For this production, I organized this event, as mentioned in the description, inviting Aida Mizuki to collaborate in the creation of a live sound piece, using radio emitters and receptors as medium devices. This piece was recorded and one of its excerpts is displayed in the last chapter of the film-artefact. 

 The aim was to deal through the means of art with the layering of non-visible information and to play with chance and non-controllable radio waves as the source of our manipulation. 

 

The installation consisted in 3 low-frequencies radio receptors and 1 radio emitter, which was in turn, emitting the master of the 3 different received radio frequencies. I decided to use the Art Center rooftop because it was the location where I was converging all the research materials that I was gathering during the residency period and that culminated in an exhibition format, in December 2019. The resulting sounds are a real-time assemblage of simultaneous receptions and emissions of radio frequencies available in that instant, in that area of Tokyo. This was a private event, not open to public, having been produced only for the aim of the recordings. By introducing this artefact, I expect to provide a possible materialization of invisible and intangible information, a reflection of the gained knowledge, regarding technopastism and a collaborative work between me and a Japanese musician. Such dispositive sending back to the air all received sounds and frequencies provoke a continuous feedback and an uncontrollable regeneration of sounds. That is, the outcome results in an infinite layering between what is received, that is put back into place, towards the open-air, functioning as an action that propose answers by sending back its own sources, only mediated through the time-space condition and, of course, chance/opportunity.     

 

 The resulting collection of sounds is an artefact by itself, that might be accessed as a sonic art piece, nevertheless, I decided to also include an excerpt of these recordings in the film, as a conclusion chapter. Even though I try to escape a linear progress of the film, this outcome has its own documenting and pertinent qualities. 

The opportunity to engage within an artistic residency at "Ongoing Art Center" in Tokyo, Japan, provided a great experimental context to apply an outsider vision of the doubled images in the far-East. Therefore, it unfolded in several dualities, which resulted in the exhibition entitled Double-double, which presented the overall of the research praxis.

 

 

 

[1] Hagström, Linus. (2014). The "abnormal" state: Identity, norm/excpetion and Japan. European Journal of International Relations.

 

[2] LaFleur, W. (1983) The Karma of Words: Buddhism and the Literary Arts in Medieval Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press.



 

[2] Goto-Jones, C. S. (2005). Political Philosophy in Japan. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203420294

 

[3] Okakura, K. (1883). Ideals of the East. The Spirit of Japanese Art.

 

[4] Yuk H. The Question Concerning Technology in China. An Essay in Cosmotechnics (2016). Urbanomic Press. 

EXHIBITIONS

OVERVIEWS 

ART CENTER ONGOING, KICHIJOJI TOKYO 2019 

3 VIDEO CHANNEL PROJECTION IN LOOP + ONE AUDIO TRACK WITH 3 AUDIO SAMPLES FROM VIDEOS UNSYNCHRONIZED

INSTALLATION - HOUSE OPEN WINDOW AND SAKE CANS AVAILABLE FOR FREE TO BE DRINKED BY THE AUDIENCE

4 MIRRORED DRAWINGS WITH DUAL GESTURES: O.K. and K.O

O.K. K.O 

AIR SALOON / PORTO GALLERY 2016

GLORIA MUNDI 2015

CAUDA 2014

A SALTO 2014

EXTATICA ESFINGE 2017

OTHER PROJECTS 

out-of-selection

UHURU 2019