What is Fieldwork?

The wilderness does not locate itself – it does not name itself. Marking, naming, writing is constantly up against the expressive slipping of material. The wilderness, or what Thoreau called earth made out of ‘chaos and old night,’ is an outside serene or severe, comforting or foreboding. What I reference as the “field” is the outside, that which is beyond the infelection, and what I reference as “work” is all of the rest – all of that which occurs on this side of the subject – on the side of a personally expressive possibility.

Fields, forests, shorelines stoke the embers of memory. Combinations of elements, mutability and motion from moment to moment is significant to the gradual growth of artwork before the eyes.

All artistic ‘texts’ attempt to manage the space in which they appear. Use of materials informs us of the vision of persons and their environment. In the case of painting, material is implicated directly in a space that also works inwardly.

Work teeters between associated marking/inscription/image and the tendencies of the wilderness, or the outside.

The outside seems at first to be a tumult of difference, and while it may seem catastrophic it always suggests a supplement, an analogy – additions that once the content is formulated stand in relationship to it. To put it simply, that is the task of art. Between mark-making and landscape there resonates associative affects, but the sequence in question is not a dialectic between signs and things, or between an effect of signification and a realm outside in which would be posited some kind of subjective energetics over against an ontological ‘void.’ My work is theological not metaphysical, and there is a stark distinction between the two.

Occidental metaphysics posits a subject as center, as a power, and buffers this edifice of the subject in dialectics. Either the City or Exile, order or chaos. It is an enterprise, even on the side of a “slippage” of difference – which the thought inflections posit as otherness – of a metaphysical totality. Whereas theology deals with infinity, not totality, meaning that it exceeds the buttressing of order or chaos. It overthrows the pagan gods. Moreover, the particular is always what is at stake. Theology extends into the plentitude of difference through representation of particular, unique, unrepeatable singularities of being. Matter matters. The relationship and relay between marks and inscription mediate some measure of a plenitude of the infinity. Infinity overcomes totality.

Art is not a determinist gesture or a matter-of-factness, or a positivistic scheme resulting in the denial of the spirit. It was the Enlightenment that produced the cold night, butthe Vitalist reactionaries did no better: it erupted as force for force’s sake, even a will to power.

The wilderness is not just chaos, not a uniovcity of difference irradiated without category and cartography which would make interpersonal communication impossible: difference is difference because of relation and because when “thingness” appears it is completed relatively through the configuration of a boundary (of art, for example).

Objects emanate differences. In order for otherness to really be otherness alterity must really be capable of a multitude of expressions. “Philosophy’s metaphysics” is incapable of this vision. Only theology extends into such expanse. Only infinity is capable of conveying this continuum. Will to power, on the other hand, only ever makes all difference different for the same reason.

The aesthetic requirement of Fieldwork is capturing inscriptions of the infinity which has a tendency to give over the transcendental positioning space and time into finite experiences and relics. 

Art is about relation. The only interesting relation is that of an event between the two enegetics of identity and difference, between thingness (marking/inscription/image) and the wilderness (otherness).

Beauty elevates while the sublime merely cannibalizes.

Identity is not a continuing conflict to be temporary resolved: where dialectics fails, having only a simple strife, the “metaxological” ambiances give a richer image.

I was never modern. Never, therefore: Antiquity – overcome the gods of the pagans. I do not accept the condition of existence (continuous becoming) strictly in terms of the conflictual.  The dialectical phenomena of sublimated struggle exists, but this is only regional and is not a ‘governing’ totality. Negation denies the beauty of contingency. Modernism has always been obsessed with a totality of nothingness: that nothingness can do work on the basis that each thing only has one difference, only one opposite. The problem with the wilderness, however, is the existence of exactly an explosive plethora  of opposites which may be related horizontally, vertically and diagonally, and every other possible way. It is in this sense of opposition in the plural that theological art does not apply a dialectical logic: there is always more series, more of overlapping, more of multiple compositions beyond the limitations of the story itself. Art is an intrusion of difference always renewing itself from the outside – from the wilderness.

Otherness arrives not by an eternal return at the origin but in a reduplication of the origin through a contingent newness that connects allegorically and as such arrives at difference in a moment of free interpretation. Alterity is not violence.

“Fieldwork,” a cartography of the author’s history up against the externality of the wilderness (of the tumult of the plural) advances from difference to a mediating unity (a work of art, a concept, an event), but this advancement is not a process of closure. Between the unoriginate and the incarnate there is always the additional relation of the processual: this is the Orthodoxy of Christian Trinity. Such is also the model of analogy that is always a poetry emerging and oscillating between openness and mediation, expressing the extra or the ‘third term’ – the plural that completes itself in unity – that is a paradoxically irreducible third.

Painting is an expression of materials augmenting the deposit of memories, myths, metaphors – a way of looking that discovers what is already given, but is also given over to expressions of what may not yet be found; that is to say, always the unfinished inflection.

Art cannot overcome nihilism without God. To barren midwifes there is a tendency to read the wilderness in nihilistic terms – a tendency to subscribe everything to a sort of violence ontology that presumes difference an indeterminate violent instrument of the agonistic. This limits appearances of “craft” to an original negativity. Conflict (strife and ‘being as war’) assumes the supremacy of an univocal identity, and it is the presupposition of all modernity in painting: all difference became different for the same reason – for the agon. 

Conversely, I am searching for marks or inscriptions that trace the plenitude of infinity – of that which expounds alterity in peace: rather than a totality of force, a painting that expresses the beauty of infinity.

If local distortion appears then it is because dialectic may have its part to play, of course, but neither the one nor the many transcendentally rules. This is the essence of metaxu – the between – which lends to the wilderness the relation between the varying shapes themselves: neither a dominance of foreground or background but of an interweaving of things in and out metaxologically 

If someone who paints, at least when pertaining to their craft, asks the question of how, instead of being enthralled by the aesthetic of the appearing as such, then they are not really a painter.

I want Fieldwork to express the giveness of a scene, experiencing both anomalies of marking/image/writing and the wilderness that neither circumscribes alterity to a universally stable terrain nor equalizes all difference through a negative, violent monology.

Beauty is not a closed typology – a wholly-governable terrain. Painting seeks Beauty. The openness of Beauty is achieved paradoxically through all the differences beheld. It does not equalize all otherness through a sieve of arbitrating negation. What of the wilderness? It emerges as the drama of the in-between: the plenitudinous liminality that knows no settling into a rigid formula of a dialectical mediation. There is, finally, within the Beautiful both identity and difference and a process between each and the other where Beauty is a true name.

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