Michael Schwab – Dynamic Drawings
Dynamic drawings are drawings that continuously re-constitute themselves; they are to be distinguished from animated drawings whose constitution is permanent since they simply move in time. It is the necessary re-drawing of the drawings that gives dynamic drawings their particular quality since during the re-drawing of a drawing the drawing process is exposed or, rather, re-exposed. The drawing process is made evident through repeated re-exposure. At least two aspects may be observed: Firstly, a sense of the conceptual regulation of the drawing appears, which promises in time to reveal all that is required to know in order to make such drawings. In this sense, dynamic drawings belong to the field of conceptual art. Secondly, however, dynamic drawings make a space visible within which they operate. Although dependant on the drawing process, this space is also determined by the material of the drawing, in our case the motion-tracked data of the dancer Valentina Moar during a performance of 'Bodyscapes', an interactive dance/sound work co-created together with Gerhard Eckel and David Pirro. This second factor transforms the dynamic drawings into detectors, indicators or screens for the movement of the material. The material's quality, however, can become known if the concept of the drawing is reflectively subtracted from it, which is only possible after the drawing process has entered the understanding. As a result, the material remainder is left a-conceptually exposed to our visual understanding. In this second sense, dynamic drawings belong to the field of post-conceptual art, which renders material accessible to thought despite its non-intelligible constitution.
Dynamic drawings expose both the drawing process and its material. They simultaneously operate within two cognitive domains, the conceptual and the a-conceptual. The conceptual aspect does not represent the abstract pole while the a-conceptual represents the concrete pole, which in the case of 'Rebody' may conveniently be seen as body; rather, it is the a-conceptual that is more abstract, because dynamic drawings, in demanding understanding of the material, push thinking into the abstract. In comparison to the concrete and regulated drawing process, it is the material that is most abstract, but only if it is thought. If the material remained simply the cause for an experience mediated through a drawing, such access to the abstract would not be given. 'Rebody' offers such access that allows the transformation of the material into thoughts, which by definition cannot be represented conceptually and thus not offered in a direct manner to the understanding. The dynamics of the drawings stems less from the movement of the dancer; rather, it is the continuous re-drawing of the drawings that is the un-doing of conceptual and the re-doing of abstract thought done by those who think. This is because the thinking of a movement is a rupture of a given movement, that is, a rupture of experience. As the dynamic drawings give space to movement they expose movement to thought.
Although the body of Valentina Moar as recorded by the motion-tracking software is not her body, its data is all we have to start with. Following this, the motion-tracking machine retrospectively re-creates an ideal body as which we expect any real body to appear. This is the reason why the rather crude sample rate of x frames per second and the machine's recording errors, for instance, but also the lack of details, such as hands and fingers, seem not to matter when it comes to the recognition of a body. In its image, real and ideal body conflate re-confirming the stability and consistency not only of this given body but also of us and everything else. This is to say that imaging technology re-creates and re-confirms the world in its image. The conflation of real and ideal body is a fact that is programmed and that, thus, happens automatically.
A transbody is the transformation of a body into the space between itself and another body or other bodies. It is the investment or the exhaustion of a body into a space not occupied by a body. A transbody is a fragile thing that constantly solidifies itself as body even if this body is a new and alternative body that fills the gap between a body and the next. When a transbody becomes a body a new set of gaps is created into which this and other bodies might again exhaust themselves. A body, however, will miss its exhaustion, while a transbody can delay the multiplication of separated bodies.
Bodies have identities while transbodies have not making it impossible to decide whether a transbody is in fact another transbody or not since lacking identity a transbody can neither have the same nor a different identity than another transbody. This makes a transbody difficult to think, at least in the register of conventional and propositional knowledge, and, despite its visibility, a transbody is usually not seen.
Images not always work to give space to transbodies; in fact, images are complicit in the bodification of transbodies. Images 'work' because of their ability to bodify. It is in such work of the image that the transbody disappears, and it is down to us whether we accept the transbody's disappearance or whether we delay the image's working process and focus on the ambivalent play of appearance/disappearance through which a transbody exhibits itself.
The transbody is not an optical illusion, but the mode in which gaps, that is to say, connections in-between bodies are thought. Without seeing a transbody, we will not be able to understand how a body relates to another body. Bodies are images of confined entities, while a transbody transgresses imaginatively programmed confinement.
Artistic research is the transformation of art into understanding. Because art is so developed, difficult and contradictory it cannot be known as we know a table or a chair. Rather, artistic research has to borrow from art its methods without stopping short, like art does, solely in the making of works. However, to follow through the meaning of a work requires some distance from art, but it also requires a lot of understanding of art. Knowledge gained through artistic research may or may not be put to use in the making of art, that is to say, artistic research need not have a purpose in art.
Artistic research is first of all an intellectual endeavour. It is an attempt to find out what could be known if artistic methodologies were accepted as knowledge generating. The fact that despite being desired artistic research has not yet been satisfyingly established shows that the registers of knowledge with which art is approached are still not right and still require transformation and re-invention. Not what we know is crucial, but how we know, for it is the how that determines the what. Aren't all artists practitioners and masters of the how? Should we not be better in re-inventing ourselves and knowledge in particular?
The trouble is that the kind of knowledge artistic research generates disappears with the artistic moment making a quick reference to an artistic research outcome impossible. This is first of all a question of capacity: artistic research teaches us that our capacity is limited and that we will be able to know well enough only a handful of things, and that 'art' is an ideal term and a simplification. The capacity in question is not a passive container for artistic knowledge that is just not big enough; rather, it is a lack of intellectual flexibility insofar as the thinker has to be transformed by the thought, since the re-marking of the thought in the thinker is a creative act, which cannot be passed on formally as information.
The figure of the artist re-appears during the passing on of artistic research. The understanding artist is not a maker, but a re-maker, when he or she listens to or is touched by things. It is not originality but artistic appropriateness and with it artistic precision that characterises the artistic researcher. He or she has to put forward a thought together with a mode and conditions, in which this thought can be thought, and has to hope that thought, mode and conditions are right for a re-making, that is, understanding to happen.