The human psyche, thought, the expression of a personality through works of art, expressionism, a sense of self, etc. – all of this is its own mythopoeic illusion, one’s very own ritual mirror, and the thing which seems to keep at safe enough distance or at bay at least for the time being that bleak existential vacuum: the void, which upon resides our brief existence as a living organism that dawns and then sets.
Baudelaire, Le Gouffre, first stanza –
Pascal had his abyss that moved along with him
Alas! All is abyss – action, desire, dream
Word! And over my hair which stands on end
I feel the wind of Fear pass again and again.
You could say that art is a way that the artist creates their own ‘sacred canopy,’ indexing a territory in the face of the engulfing terror of existence. The expression of the artist is like so much sediment dispensed upon the shoreline: it is a series of impermanent waves that thrust themselves upon that edge of a temporarily stable surface, only to be eventually swept out like a mark in the sand by the flux and flow of becoming. Mineralizing the void: that the artistic gesture – even of reflexive consciousness – draws out its own relevance upon the backdrop of the eternal abyss, and does so through immediate inscriptions of the material.
The fear of the eternal silence, of the silence of infinite spaces: this is what produces culture. Our mythic consciousness (the mind is a myth) is engulfed into a whirlwind of an asundering world draining into a primordial black hole, and revolving around this tornado is this consciousness that either destroys itself or else creates a new projection. Art is such a projection and it suffices for the artist to use this myth because it gives life a meaning. The question to why to give it a meaning is as moot as to why not to give it one. Through creating art the artist attempts to understand the nature of reality, or else they are wasting their time. The sincerity of attempt inevitably bumps up against, well, nothing. But the artist stares nothing in the face and it balks: this is what they do every time they glance at that empty canvas, that empty field of void of expression, and commit a mark.
Every commitment of a mark is an event. It ruptures the scene and forces the painter to reassess the situation. A mark is an action whose own ‘subjectivity’ is often excluded from the visibility of the ‘finished’ work, but adhering as the painter often does towards that fascination with the unrepresentable, the painter allows the mark to be itself and to be in revolt. It is the unknown that punctures through the artist’s projected ‘sacred canopy’ and forces them back into their own inadequate position. And in the presence of the marking, which is the event of the performance of a life-work, one simply exhausts ability to form any images and instead what appears is matter’s forming itself no longer chained to the constructive narrative of the painter’s imagination, which is to say, no longer regimented to a projection attempting to hold at bay the void: instead, the void is integrated into the work at every step, in each mark. In this way the mark displaces the determinations of the painter, of a creatio ex nihilo whose very undefinable foundation is traced out in every gesture. To ‘mineralize the imagination’: of an artist being in the object-of-formation as an eventual site, as an intensity of sediment emerging as a vibrant appearance upon the void.