Sometimes it is recession to lie down on the earth, like the painter does also, in order to get to the ‘motif’, that is to say, the percept. Percepts can be telescopic or microscopic, giving characters and landscapes giant dimensions as if they were swollen by a life that no lived perception can attain.
(Deleuze og Guattari, 1991)
TOWARD A NEW AESTEHTICS OF THE SOIL
In contemporary landscape paintings I address and creatively negotiates environmental concerns and explore how to represent nature today, where climate changes can be seen as the ultimate product of human design. I search for a new aesthetics of the soil. By that I mean a new sustainable sublime understanding of our surroundings that can replace today’s romantic yearning for the untouched wilderness and vast horizon and bring those values closer to home, and thereby contribute to a new empathic aesthetics of the soil.
The picturesque western landscape tradition starting with the linear perspective in the Renaissance and reinforced by the sublime view on nature in Romanticism can be said to have turned the landscape into something to be appreciated at distance. But I believe that painting as an agent can provide a lesson in the transmutation of the landscape into a lived environment going beyond the linear perspective’s organizing of the gaze using a kinesthetic perspective, where space is understood successively through the movement of the body like Mitsou Inoue’s ‘movement space’ characterized by an organizing of space in rhythms thereby giving substance to the in-between of things as described by the Japanese concept ‘ma’. In the same sense as the 17th century’s French landscape paintings were used as compositorial sketches for the kinesthetic Anglo-Chinese gardening design in England in the early 18th century.
My practice is centered around the idea of ‘the natural’ and ‘the nature of things‘ as in the Old English sense meaning an assembly like Bruno Latour’s Parliament of Things of humans and nonhumans and the speculative realist Tristan Garcia is talking about how a table is not in the table, but outside itself in its environment. Overall I am influenced by Non-representational theory, where existence is created through social gatherings based on metamorphic performances and intra-action characterized by a being-of (instead of in)-the-world in line with Karen Barad’s Agential Realism.
I work in continuation of classical genres employing methods used in the École des Beaux-Arts in the 19th century characterized by the principle of sight-size, but I seek simultaneously to combine craftsmanship with imaginative projections based on generative processes of reflections, crystallizations, folds, metaphorically filters and associative appearances creating dwelling perspectives of images both figurative and abstract, definite and diffuse. To me a drawn line is important based on what it leads you to see, not what it shows. As such an image is not only a form of expression but also a form of agent not representing something existing but presenting a generative reality.
Methodologically I am inspired by Critical Design’s imaginative discourses and Graphic Anthropology’s imaginary documentation reaching beyond the voyeur-concept based on field observation and transcriptions of existing data using our imagination and intuition sensed at the limit of the body in its ‘brute being‘ and ‘body without organs‘, like Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Gilles Deleuze describe it, as tools of cognition like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe use it as a way to reach the ‘Ur-phenomena’ beyond anthropocentrism in order to understand things, in the same sense Kathryn Hayles talks about a ‘speculative aesthetics’. You get to know a thing differently by observing, sensing and putting it down on paper.
In being toward something and by putting yourself in its place, in ‘thinging’, you are called by the thing; ‘bedingt’ as Heidegger explains. Early research in the psychology of aesthetic responses in the beginning of the 19 century has shown that this kind of empathic mirror play characterized by a state of being in-patos and being susceptible; response-ability as Barad describes it, is a precondition for the aesthetic and sublime experience. Todays research in mirror neurons support this.
As such neuroscience is relevant to me as a way to describe how we relate to our surroundings (people, animals, plants, objects) through empathic simulations. As well as neuro anthropology is important to explain the relation between human vision and the visual environment. How a culture’s visual environment and socialization practices affects how we see, and how the image can play a role in this regard. Research shows that vision can be both analytic/linear as in Western cultures and holistic/relational as in Asian cultures. As such it is possible to influence how we plan, draw/paint and design. We can no longer continue to build extractive monument but have to build with the ruins; rebuild, reuse, adapt. As Bruno Latour and Isabelle Stengers points out, we will have to go on living in ruins, because there is no other possibility. We cannot ignore ‘Gaia’; the symbiotic muscle of earth of human and nonhumans. Like Latour I’m inspired by the biologist Louis Pasteur (1822 – 1895) and his discovery of microorganisms and their complex interaction with their surroundings, which they affect and in return are affected by in their development.
With the image as designagent I try to create new realities using human imagination to move beyond anthropocentrism in order to understand things based on intersubjective empathic relations.