[Author’s Acknowledgements & Statement of Context:
The contents of this essay are written via various forms of redaction, addition and omission within the article “Revealing the invisible: the paradox of picturing a phantom limb” (written by G.D. Schott)1, as well as the PR text (written by me) for the exhibition Homily: A Solo Exhibition by Patrick Gantert.2
Cohesion and comprehension within the following texts is the result of writing in time with the reading of the host text. I did not go back to revise, nor did I plot out the redacting in advance. The desire is for the text to be both emergent and resistant to being redirected.
Redaction : Redactions work as the primary method to shape the text and locate key search terms/tones that reveal what can be said by the author.
[additions] : Additions are clearly indicated by the use of brackets. Additions populate around the text without any clear rules. This type of writing can be misunderstood if one thinks it is working off a clear logic and sense of economy. It isn’t. Instead, needs of the author ebb and flow, with areas becoming dominated by addition (to a point of questioning the purpose for this entire process) or essentially being plagiarism (prolonged sections of unaltered text).
[ ] : Omissions were introduced after the initial phase of writing. Omissions are no longer in time with the original reading/writing process. Instead, omission begins to portray another layer intention, namely curation. Lastly, omissions can continue indefinitely, as this text, like a painting, is always open for alteration.]
FOGSTAND is happy to present their dear friend Patrick Gantert
and his first solo exhibition in Taiwan,
Patrick Gantert’s art making is difficult to explain because it isn’t what it seems, even though that hesitation cannot be encountered or even seen. It isn’t visible because much of what inspires me about Gantert’s image making (not to mention the way his objects throw this system out the window) is precisely in what I cannot be “made present to” when I see it, namely the capacity of vision to attempt to step outside itself by something made, thus, outside, albeit temporarily, the world (the newly born). So forgive me if I do not touch on anything particular, the unique grain of Patrick Gantert’s curiosities, affiliations and lived experiences that are essential. Still, I trust these qualities are
[Preface:] add[icted to]cceptably “not self-evident” and constitute the very res[urrection]ason viewers like to explore meaning through his meaning, the world through his movement in it, etc. Instead, I will be spending the entirety of this curatorial statementon dismantling what is supposed to be the only self-evident features of his artwork, namely that he renders representational imagery to a level we say is “photo-realistic” and that he embraces the lateral momentum afforded by a wide range of visual and cultural vernaculars. I will begin with the later and end with the former.
A strategy Patrick Gantert employs with great frequency is a kind of blind referentiality. His work consistently refers back to itself and other prerequisites that a viewer may or may not possess. Imagine the dust cloud created when two cartoon characters fight—hands, legs, words, objects, fluids, all circling around. In a word, non-locality.
Non-locality gives language to (not necessarily perception of) phenomena always and only entangled, whereby those particles that constitute phenomena interact so intimately with each other, they become permanently correlated, or dependent on each other’s states and properties, they effectively lose their individuality and in many ways behave as a single entity.3
All imagery behaves this way, be it through our own optics, continually being dis-enclosed (remediated) by perceptual organs that have not yet found their end to becoming further modified from within and without our own doing, or by those involuntary images Walter Benjamin spoke of: [an optical unconscious where] we never see an image but an image is just all prior images super-imposed over the one we now stand in front of.4 Therefore, every image is already outside its own instance by itself not being “in itself” to begin with. Fortunately, rather than collapsing into some absolute form of iconoclasm, the opposite is true, namely the possibility in removing all those additional and necessary “s’s” to imagery by virtue of their being-in-common without any “real” commonality.
Taking this somewhere else, I would like to fixate on what affords Gantert’s imagery to even take place (become legible, visible or, even, visual) to begin with. Much of his pictorial output represents a high level of fidelity to an observed arrangement. The crucial point when looking at Gantert’s imagery starts here: this high fidelity already places you, the viewer, into a state of recognizing appearance that is over-examined, thus unseen, by becoming instantly correlated into your optical background (gazing into clear pools of water, mirrors, photographs, video conferencing, etc) that we cannot intentionally unwork from the artwork impressed on our eyes. It just happens. These scratches and rubs of material cannot help but be what they are not, namely their very real and blind material trace. This gives all representational imagery a prostrational quality on a purely physiological level, despite centuries of discourse on imitation, illusion and likeness. All that, all that only takes place after the eye has already surrendered to its very visibility. Surrendered in a trust (without our consent) that the physiological plays out, optically, in the gaze. It is in this, namely the visibility we cannot rescue ourselves from seeing, that Gantert’s artwork becomes, to me, spiritual in character. Gantert plays out [T]hose few millimeters of artifactual representation against the factual dimensions it certainly was derived from. Maybe not derived, nor, even, revived, but, instead resurrected. In the words of Jean-Luc Nancy:
Resurrection is not a second life, but the self-righting movement [redressement] whereby the horizontal course of a life turns into a vertical signal. And this is also flesh, for this proper, irreplaceable life thus rights itself. This is also a manifestation of what is not manifest—of sense and of truth. Together incarnation and resurrection interpret a single thought: the body is the event of spirit. Its advent, its coming [venue] to the world, its unexpected arrival [survenue], its irruption, and its passage. This also means: spirit does not hold itself outside the world, it opens in its midst.5
It then stands to reason that [the] Gantert’s desire to pull these now-leveled languages (photo-realism, graphic design, cartoons, etc) into other states could be read as a reference to the Catholic phenomenon of transubstantiation; the literal changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Only through incorporation, in this case, near photo-realistic re-presentation, the substance—contradictorily—dedicates itself to a now available prefixal aspect. Prefixal meaning the “pre-” only becomes available to contemplation by proceeding as a prior to its own “pre”—now out of sequence. Even clearer, those who enjoy bending materiality to imitate physiological vision are fixed on that very “pre-“, namely that abandonment to a vision they cannot control. This continues onward to the contradiction: celebrating this bent materiality as physiological vision as a celebration of vision itself, again available only to the lack of seeing it, in itself, but, instead in its being made-visible. But it was always visible, always there. This is what is meant by out of sequence. This dechronization is at the heart of all that is represented and Gantert’s artwork is no different. It doesn’t reveal even though it does so entirely. This is because we cannot locate, let alone put to work those elements in imagery that remain so startled in their own issuing, their own sense they keep meeting again, elsewhere.
To close I would like to share a phrase by bio-semiotician, Jakob von Uexküll, the [writings that follow] are “trans-specific (though not panpsychic)”.6 They make an image despite of themselves, and, more importantly, ourselves.
The following video essay contains a high level of flashing and flickering colored light that may potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. Viewer discretion is advised.
Additionally, for those who find the reading experience too uncomfortable, please refer to the “low contrast” versio Please note that the low contrast version also features a flickering and flashing effect. To access the written content of the video essay, you can download the plain text transcript of the text below.