Raul Gabriel: Virtual Apraxia

Raul Gabriel’s incidents are events: the event, crossroad of multiple ongoing relations (bodies, for instance, are a whole set of events, and not material beings occupying the same definite volumes for every observer), is simultaneously virtual and real. The event is the complex linkage of perceiver, perceived, and the relation between these two. It is gesture that is also thinking: aesthetic logos, chiastic structure or incarnation of logos. The events, in turn, give structure to other complex crossroads, by combining themselves with other events and integrating events as parts. They thus function as subjects, and equally as objects, if they are themselves incorporated as parts of other events. Subject and object, as well as active and passive, are therefore reversible process functions. In other words, the subject is not subjectum or substratum, but rather the provisional point-place of some space-time stages of the process. This scenario provides a suitable ontological standpoint in order to take into fresh account some entities showing an exquisitely relational status. As a matter of fact, Gabriel’s incidents create a short circuit between physis and techne, presenting us with a new form of poiesis still to be accounted for: who or what produces the ‛things’ we see and perceive as if they were the product of a creating will? What kind of power creates here the realm of the aesthetic experience, which is in general the most complex for human beings? What relation between necessity and freedom is here at play in this effort? The actual convergency of freedom and necessity, or imagination power and technology, – double incompatible production – cannot be rationally processed but it is just given, sometimes taking place as artistic event. The issue concerns the being, things, the world, and is exemplarily exhibited by the simultaneously human and superhuman/preternatural workings of art. Raul Gabriel’s incidents actively and wittingly seek such a convergency or productive power in the genesis of the image: the digital process allows the encounter between the extreme contingency of individual taste and the anonymous chilling gaze of the technological process. This latter transforms reality into numbers and breaks up complexity into generally computable complication. Hence, a peculiar relation between invisible and visible comes to the fore in Gabriel’s incidents: the sensible invisible. The invisible is what transforms a place into a dwelling, what makes it world-for-us; the invisible, of course, cannot be made visible, and yet it cannot be grasped as such, that is as invisible, without body, gesture, voice, gaze… this is the sense of the event, which really happens and is provided of peculiar concreteness without for this being fully grasped and translated into a determinate meaning. Now, the virtual at stake in Gabriel’s work, with the complex structure of its perceptible qualities (the set of colours, traces, tactile densities, energies, sounds…) is nothing but the actualization of the content of some digital memory, the staging of an algorithm implemented using the binary system. This raises some questions on the relation between aisthesis and noesis. The issue at stake is, in fact, the possibility to reduce the sensible perception in computational terms, which does not entails however the reduction of secondary qualities to primary qualities, nor the possible reduction of the world to a number. It rather assesses the original and reversible solidarity between perception and thinking, expressed within the range marked at the extremes by the digital description of computer memories at one end and by the doubly sensible body at the other end. The concreteness of things and one experience: a complex structure, a subject-object resulting from some inextricably technological and artistic project, a body translated into a distinctively active phantom entity, clearly artificial, the product of technique, but also ‛innate’ tendency towards change and (self-)developing experience, depending not on its ‛natural’ components but on its very ‛nature’, because of its structurally being ‛event’. The reference is therefore to a natural-artificial hybrid, in some respect almost a ‛living’ system, material and virtual body which exists only as encounter, digital writing, endowed with sensible experience and hence with constitutional interactivity. This leads us to understand the relation (the encounter) as in itself constitutive of entities, and to build an ontology of relations, still mostly unprecedented, which is a grateful enlargement of the world’s furnishings. A crossroad – luckily enough, a dangerous one – between art and philosophy. Very well…

CREDITS: Roberto Diodato