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Why manmade reality often feels disappointing? As proclaimed in the 19th century, Realism was about representing everyday reality as accurately as possible, yet this very definition already presents two major problems. First, representation is a mediation of mediations in which the artist, by means of his own perception, cognition and labour respectively perceives reality, interprets it and translates it into another reality, that of the work of art. And even when realism calls for revolution by intendedly suppressing interpretation, it still thrives on the artists’ perceptive capacities and labouring skills. Second, and here lies the main problem of Realism, enclosing reality is no easy task. When someone calls themselves a realist artist today, what do they have in mind for ‘everyday reality’? And, materialistically speaking, what does this ‘everyday reality’ consist of? Thanks to the marvels of modernity, our everyday life takes places chiefly in artificial environments, only partly in natural ones. To residents of modern cities, nature awakes inside ourselves an uncontrolled, raw feeling of close connection with the material. The wilder, the better. Exotic travel agencies, urban forests, adventure sports, they all respond to the same existential need: the quest for (going back to) authenticity, for the essential, the primal connection with materiality. It feels right because it feels essential. And nature has plenty of this essence to offer, a powerfully irresistible add-on to it: next to experiencing its mere materiality, we suspect a certain essence in natural entities. The bad news is that we carry out the major part of our modern lives inside (increasingly) artificial environments, composed of objects whose essence we suspect lost. The god of objects fled after modernity. Quoting Jan Verwoert quoting Jacques Rancière1, after modernity objects are presented to us both as talkative and silent; showing only their bare materiality and only their historical indexicality, both alone and at the same time. Next to the materialistic impulse of perceiving (owning) them, we can read objects as if they were pieces of social text. But very disappointingly, this text is not about essence. It speaks about use, about value, it represents, symbolizes, creates social relationships. However, it is a received text that the object possesses, not its immanent essence. Although it is modernism which is to blame for it, and not the material itself, here lies the first disappointment of the material. Let’s pretend we create our own modernism. In this modernism, I will overcome the dialectic between materiality
These objects exist not only when they are being perceived but also when they are not perceived. not by logical steps like an artificial computer chipset. By means of our senses. Or most precisely. In other words. that it is not the only possible perception. According to Wikipedia. despite the lowresolution. Statements about these objects can be known to be true through sense-experience. that it is not true? After all. 4. But despite being short-sighted or color blind. 5. 2. we have a set of machines incorporated in our own materiality that fails to reach the truth of the material. In this modernism that I am formulating. the expectations that materiality raises: at the very beginning we have perception. Nevertheless. our brain works by intuition. our claims to have knowledge of it are justified. our very conception of the truth may not be truer than this feeling in the tip of our fingers. despite the dangers of illusion. (It may be sad. And still we are disappointed. As Henri Poincaré suggested2. I assume that perception and cognition may be completely independent processes. uplift it to myth. reaching the truth of the material by means of our senses seems feasible. But of course. even when they are not being perceived. 3. but still we can sense it. these are its five principles: 1. we perceive the world directly. we already know that there is more than we can see. a rather problematic word. We know that our perception is flawed. We have a pair of limited eyes connected to a brain which is by no means a perfect engine. or touch. Let’s create expectations. that is why we are disappointed: we project expectations onto the material that materiality cannot suffice. a true cognizance of truth. I am afraid. our perception is everything we have to hold onto when relating to materiality. who would argue that what we perceive does not exist. Their properties are perceptionindependent. possess it with desire. We may not be able to apprehend it. The theory that claims that our perception provides us with a direct awareness of the external world. but it is a start). These objects are also able to retain properties of the types we perceive them as having. There exists a world of material objects. The objects of perception are largely perception-independent. that is. still assuming perception and cognition are independent." Thus. learn it. I know that I know nothing3. why does our perception feel hinged? I am . And to the extent that our senses permit. imbue it with meaning. In the main.and indexicality by programmatically opting for only one of them: the brutal materiality of the object. is called Naïve Realism. wide-angle compound eyes of flies.
Thus. an object meant to bear utter symbolization. am I stripping reality off several layers. I must admit I do not have an answer to that question. in a sort of synaesthesia. but also interpretation starts too suddenly. before the electrical impulse reaches my brain? We know that cognition is mediated by desire and meaning. And since pretending. However. myth and all those elements that crook cognition.com . or am I just veiling these layers with yet another (translucent) one? Transparent flag. but not totally diving into Naïve Realism.tumblr. I have to admit that I am only playing. which makes me see all material edges rather blurry. reduced to pure materiality. when looking at a sharp knife.short sighted and often do not wear my eyeglasses. Does my nervous system already remember that I once cut my finger. Therefore when I decide to stop my relation to the material at perception. Image from http://eeeedarun. but also indexicality. meaning. before cognition. I must admit that I cannot surrender not only desire. but is not perception mediated by experience? Since I am incapable of excruciating myself to those depths. I get an uneasy feeling. For I cannot stop my brain from working. not only cognition happens automatically.
in Shelving for Unlocked Matter and Open Problems. materiality has the capacity of raising big expectations by itself. Apart from the overwhelming answer it provides. Marie Lund´s work Doubles and Halves also shows how Naïve Realism veils reality. Likewise. But this gesture has also conferred them a new (materialistic) value. This argument (which just by itself should suffice to invalidate it) will be used instead to define Naïve Realist Art. We are not going to pretend we can delimitate the immaterial. when transforming matter. pretending we are exposing when once again we are veiling. does the transformation take place solely within matter? We know this kind of transformation is not art — otherwise I could now put some water in the freezer and claim that ice-cubes constitute a masterpiece! Therefore. The works of Nina Beier and Marie Lund are examples of this strategy. repurposing them. are we using only the material as a source? In other words.Materiality is always disappointing because our perception of it involves aspects that are not material. These objects have been stripped of their meaning and symbolical power to become again pure matter. Hidden sculptures in plaster blocks. I am afraid that to overcome the creation of these expectation we must lie: the strategy consists of pretending we are removing when in fact we are adding. Nina Beier has cut off to the same height several sculptures to support a set of shelves. Doubles and Halves also questions openly Naïve Realism from the side of the creator: When creating the material (producing reality). For instance. Because the effects . reversing the process of creating the material: a sculpture returns back to its original shape. I have to acknowledge that even Naïve Realist Art needs some immaterial layer in which to function.
I have had to invent a game called Naïve Realism. Everyone has similar existential worries about reality.IV-V: “*I KNOW THAT I KNOW NOTHING. In Jan Verwoert’s essay Crooked modernisms — Oh. NOTES: 1.” TO SUM UP: This text wants to reach immateriality by talking about materiality. Ibid. Naïve Realism is a conscious game. Obliterating the generation of (further) undesired expectations. But if my existential angst is a cultural byproduct. these are memes that spread across generations. my perception of reality seems to become more and more intense. Anthony Huberman’s For the blind man in the dark room looking for the black cat that isn’t there remarks (p. Because pretending that only the material is real is not only stupid but impossible. if it does not come from within. But the leap into the larger field of real Realism. avoiding undesirable immaterial side-effects of meaning or indexicality. But I cannot pretend any longer that this game is reality. After modernism we have. That is probably the vertigo of the real. confusion has always been at the heart of wisdom. will never fill my expectations. embracing its immaterial consequences. what you really. not logic” 3. . will not amuse me. in all its muteness.of an artwork onto immateriality are unforeseeable and openended. Yet the objects. scares me. To actualize realism we must consider what does 'everyday reality' consist of nowadays. which as of today I have not read. So intense that to stay safely inside it without looking further. my senses become less accurate and the lack of novelty makes my experiences less interesting. REALISM MAKES ME SAD AND LONELY. 218) he quotes repeatedly the first 32 pages of Jaques Rancière’s The Future of the Image. p. byproducts of affective transference. Since pretending our work stays within the material. I have the intuition that a reality as self-contained as materiality is far from being self-immanent. To go further. 2. really want. on one side. I will have to quit playing and accept Realism in its broader sense. why does it feel so real? Funny that while I feel time is accelerating. natural entities which we consider essential. of acknowledging the realness of immateriality. p. who laid the foundation for chaos theory: “The life of mathematics exists in intuition. Clearly. the Naïve Realist Artwork will have to concentrate on the sheer transformation of it. But likewise. crooked indeed! (included in Tell me what you want.15) this suggestion of Henri Poincaré. and as such.
Thus. because they arise too quickly. Some works of art are good examples at pretending to deny immateriality. but only confirming its presence instead. But we can pretend it is. --- . man-made objects whose essence we find lost. These objects show at the same their materiality and historical indexicality. which is not their essence. What problems do we find when we focus only on their materiality? First. our perception is not absolute. as in Naive Realism. the naive desire of not having to deal with immateriality only responds to cowardice.and on the other. Second and most important. we can only pretend to deny the immaterial aspects of reality.