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)
TOWARDS A NEW EMPATHIC AESTEHTICS OF THE SOIL
I negotiate environmental concerns and seek to find new ways of representing nature today, where climate changes can be seen as the ultimate product of human design. I question the picturesque western landscape tradition, which has turned the landscape into something to be appreciated at distance, and made us look at nature as if it was a postcard. I want us to look at nature in a more intimate way and take the romantic values, we associate with vast horizons and the untouched wilderness, and bring them closer to home. An image, to me, is not only a form of expression representing something existing but a visual agent presenting a generative, potential reality. Through my work I hope to motivate to a more sustainable, mutual existence with nature moving towards an understanding of nature as a sensed landscape; a wet zone full of microbes of things of all kinds of humans and nonhumans (animals, plants, objects).
My practice is centered around “the nature of things”. With things I don’t mean objects in themselves but things understood as social gatherings as in the Old English sense of the word meaning an assembly (like fx. the Danish ‘folke-ting’). In the same manner the French philosopher Tristan Garcia describes how a table is not in the table, but exist outside itself in it’s environment. I am interested in things possessing stories and to unfold these stories. Instead of portraying from a distance and from a one-point perspective, I perform close-up investigations of the landscape.
My work is inspired by the concept of suprematism and fundamental geometric forms. I portray elements such as rocks, ruins, plants, objects and geometric shapes in various states of flux challenging the hegemony of normative linear positions interrelating with the earth and sky, the vertical and horizontal, as I want to produce a more three-dimensional engagement with space as a way to enter into the soil. I often start with detailed small scale nature morte motives, which I blow up. As such my abstractions are always in dialogue with a realistic reference point emerging from figurative motives creating images both figurative and abstract, definite and diffuse. I let the motive grow and unfold through foldings and filters like crystallization, fractalization, decontextualization, reflections, condensations, and micro/macro scaling leading to entropic patterns of causality.
Methodologically I am inspired by ‘graphic anthropology’. It is an inscriptive imaginary documentation technique and sensual strategy pointing away from the real in order to capture the temporality of the lived landscape, which are not grasped through metric and analytical kinds of representation. It consists of on site field observations and post site transscriptions of existing site specific data like maps, photos, film scenes and diagrams using the imagination as a cognitive tool and gateway to transcendent the experience of things similar to Goethe’s use of ‘die exakte sinnliche Phantasie’ to explore the inner potential of things; the ‘Ur-phenomena’.
It is a way to heighten the awareness of the surroundings and to get closer to the inner life of things, as you get to know a thing differently by drawing it creating a feeling of nearness, of ‘togethering’ or ‘thinging’ as the German philosopher Heidegger defines it. In being toward something and by putting yourself in its place through empathic insight and imagination, you are called by the thing (‘be-dingt’ in German) through a mirror play. Likewise the German psychologist Robert Vischer in his early research of aesthetic response uses ‘the will of phantasy’ as a way to show what happens in us and what our imagination does in the object, when we are showing empathy towards something, which is fundamental for the aesthetic experience. This linking of empathy and our relations to things around us is supported by recent neuro scientific research in mirror neurons and empathic simulation, which equate human and nonhumans by showing that our simulation pattern is the same be it a three, a house or a person we interact with.
In short I search for an alternative empathic aesthetic of the soil. What matters to me, is the way in which the mark, that organises our thoughts, is made, rather than the completed artefact. As the English art critic, novelist and painter John Berger states: A line, an area of tone, is not really important because it records what you have seen, but because of what it will lead you on to see.