Magic in the Material Thing

mixed-media on wood
Philae 1 – mixed-media on wood

 

Objects are weird. We can stretch our thought around a general relationality of the object but the capacity is enormous, and relation ends up exerting itself. The thing we know is not the thing – we cannot grasp them as they are.

A line of stones. The constellation Taurus. There is magic in the material thing.

The artist witnesses something from nothing: a mystery of causality that is unspeakable. Magic seizes the artist when the object becomes impossible, disrupting assumed interiority and exteriority, assumed subject and object, assumed roles.

Things are bound with mystery: secrecy, enclosure, withdraw. Stretching from the miniscule to the immensity of forms the artist becomes aware that objects are not totally discernible through the observation of their properties or relational conditions. …He is allured by the object. The artist’s task is to understand the nature of the allure.

Teasing magic out of the material thing means for the artist dissolving of boundaries between the gaze and the objects ‘out there.’ The result is some kind of metamorphosis through the mesh: realization that everything is interconnected, yet nothing ever really ‘touches’ anything else as everything has its own withdraw – when the artist gazes upon an object, for example, that gaze does not exhaust the object by undermining or overmining its character.

In life and in rot as rising and falling of forms and in sensations and translations which appear and then disappear, things are malleable and are continually being formed and unformed. It is the Great Swarm. It is the whirlpool. All material is vital. Every thing is pulsating and coaxing into presence and solidifying into being the potential agency already existent in material form. There is charm in distilling the mesh of existence into an artifact. The artist occupies a position in which to contemplate that thing which moves itself.

 

-JM

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