Katharina Grosse “Infinite Logic Conference”
Infinite Logic Conference introduction by Richard Julin, curator Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall.
Paint more (Sprawl 2) essay by Lars Mikael Raattamaa, poet and architect affiliated with the Royal College of Technology in Stockholm.
Exhibition catalogue no 30.ISBN 91-974236-5-3
51 pages, color, illustrated, hard cover. Texts in Swedish/English.
Published 2004 by Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall.
Price: 240 SEK (approx 25 EUR):
Paint more (Sprawl 2) by Lars Mikael Raattamaa
“What can really imbue life with brilliance and luster does not need to be anything more than a good story told by someone toward whom you feel love.” (Gabriella Håkansson)
“He who dies disconsolate, however, has made his entire life meaningless.” (Theodor Adorno)
– Hello! It’s starting now!
– Come here!
– Hello! I want to tell you something!
– I want to tell you about something bad!
– Do you want to hear how bad it is?
– Come here then! Check it out! Juggling without hands!
– This is an essay by Lars Mikael Raattamaa written during the first weeks of 2004. It’s called “Paint More” and is number 2 in the ten-year plan project “Sprawl.” “Paint More” is an essay about the bad. They say there is no truth and they say we can no longer – or at least ought not to – speak about good and bad taste, and not about high and low culture either. None of that is true.
– No, did you believe otherwise? Of course bad things exist. Just like there is bad food, or bad water, either because it is old and rotten – overripe – or it’s simply inferior in terms of nourishment, or even enjoyment for that matter.
– Do you want to know about what’s bad?
– It’s popular to talk about the ugly. Dirt is the wrong thing in the wrong place, they say. But it’s rare, unfortunately so rare, that such ideas extend beyond a narrowly defined group of freaks. Like old sailors’ yarns of docks brimming with one-eyed men, prostitutes, pickpockets, hunchbacks, and three-legged dogs. But we thrive in the rhizome. Of course we can imagine a pink piece of furniture, or sink into a Japanese comic book or a detective story from Scania. But the much-discussed deterritorialization does not extend beyond a handful of design details.
– But the bad.
– Imagine a top-secret, hyper-modern medical clinic that is doing research on traveling into people’s brains. No, more precisely, into people’s souls. If you worked there, as a psychonaut, you could travel into other people’s dreams and desires, their fantasies and memories. Maybe your task would be to try to establish contact with a severely autistic child of a millionaire, maybe you wander through rolling dunes and into oases of white-pink cherry trees, maybe you try to get the little kid to come along on a sailing trip, maybe the boat he points to is a wreck while the vessel you suggest turns out to be a broken toy boat. Would you doubt, would you want to get away, or would you thank your lucky spider and wish that the same events would occur again, including the little spider.
– Maybe one day the national police force will look up the institute because a mass murderer who has just been apprehended is holding a woman captive in a glass tank that will soon to be filled with water. The woman is being drowned. Maybe the police are helpless because the kidnapper is a severe schizophrenic and has fallen into a coma. The police cannot question him. Maybe you would, after a great deal of hesitation, take on the task of entering the murderer’s thoughts where you fall through cement-like chambers and hang floating eight meters over the bottom of the well. Maybe you then see a little boy run up a 35-meter staircase – the only detail in this gigantic space. He runs for a long, long time and maybe you follow him. Maybe he lures you into a whitewashed operating room where he hides behind a horse. Maybe you step forward and pat the horse. Maybe the boy then shoves you away, only an instant before a series of glass guillotines fall down from the ceiling and chop the horse into thirteen sections that, still attached to the glass knives, are separated automatically and remain 90 centimeters from each other-like a strictly geometrical slicing schematic. Maybe you were saved by the little boy’s shove. – Would that not be fantastic?
– Some of you have by now recognized the plot of the film The Cell. And you probably no longer think that it is especially fantastic. The Cell is a bad movie.
– That’s something we’d all agree on, here in this room, but why is it bad? Would we understand more if we tried to describe it?
– No, it is not true that it is no longer worthwhile to search for and assert truth. On the contrary, it seems that truth and certainty were confused for each other somewhere along the line. It is not true, or maybe it is true that there is no decisive boundary between good and bad taste. More than good taste, it is safe taste that brings society together today. The distinction is between the person who with calm certainty oscillates between good and bad, between Phil Spector’s bubblegum pop and Anton Weber’s “Six Pieces for Orchestra,” and the person who vainly asserts the differences between the two-and consistently finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time.
– Yeah, but maybe that is right, and the true and the good have changed places with the safe. Not that the true and the false have ceased to exist, or that it is no longer possible to distinguish between the good and the bad, but far more important now is to have certainty on your side with every assertion. Kant’s notion of sensus communis, a shared world of sensual perception and aesthetic experience, is still valid. Taste brings together society, large and small groups, and separates those who do not integrate themselves quickly enough. Insecurity is met with a weak smile-we can be friends, after all-and transforms the insecure, who is not capable of dancing the funny dance of spontaneity, into a social monster.
– Hello. You’re not falling asleep, are you? Go get some coffee if you are.
– Are you comfortable in your chair? Get a cushion. There’s one in the corner. Put it behind your back. Put your feet up on the table. Do you have anything to nibble on? Take your time. We have a long, long way to go. I’m going to paint a lot more.
– Friends, countrymen, Cartesians. We Cartesians. Have we ever been more Cartesian? We have developed our ability to doubt everything. Everything, everything, everything. It cannot become immediate enough for us. Even if we stick our fingers in the wound, we do not decrease our ability to doubt. We can be led astray, if there is not already some addiction that we can bracket off. An addiction that can entice us, some demon (race, class, gender) that fools us into believing that our well-developed confident EGOs are the fruit of something else other than a polished well-rehearsed decision-making process at the great department store of identity (Satisfaction Guaranteed). They say that reason has been exposed to criticism, but how? When did certainty, unmediated certainty, become the reigning criterion in the critique of reason?
– In the Bible, we learn that space has four different attributes: height, depth, breadth, and length. In architecture schools around the world, students learn to transform ideas into three-dimensional forms. But nothing is more Cartesian than the equivalence of the three dimensions. We can no longer imagine height and depth as being anchored in different levels of meaning; on the contrary, the three Cartesian dimensions stand in a direct, neutral, and independent relationship with each other. And can always be exchanged for one another. Cartesian doubt is of a specific kind; it is about freeing the world ‘s dimensions from dependence, be it from images, idols, or demons that have nothing to do with anything, and thereby making them into neutral entities, tools. But in the exact same way that time has directionality (even if Newton or Einstein never admitted it) and therefore enjoys the wealth that comes from knowing that no one has ever been in the future, so space enjoys the opposite riches: no matter where you go, someone has been there before. So we could cast off the trend’s other function (if the first was about certainty, the second is about novelty) and need not worry about discovering the new or the original. Time is constantly renewed, space is never new. Both are mediated, the former utterly meaningless, the latter overburdened with meaning.
– Someone’s ringing the bell.
– Mr. X is dead.
Excerpt from the catalogue text by Lars Mikael Raattamaa, poet and an architect affiliated with the Royal College of Technology in Stockholm, 2004