The five stages of falling into art: some thoughts on the white cube and the homepage

In recent thoughts, thinking about structure, and life in the polymorph, I have posited that though humans live in waking life, it is not so waking anymore. Most of us, in one way or another, now sleepwalk. This we do by participating ritualistically in the seasons of our own particular specialized field or world. In a dream, there are five stages between laying your head on your pillow, and falling asleep. I have gone through these. There is the static, which represents your eyes closed, the entoptic field of floaters, on which surface, you may impress thoughts of the day, and worry about this and that. In this state, you are still awake.

Then at some point the static takes on a deeper character. It drops down some, and in it your mind is filled with odd half awake half asleep thoughts, characterized by a rational-like marking, with sigils, and symbols, and codes, and letters, but which are in fact irrational. I call this the glass onion, as in its lettering or symbolizing, it is slowly peeling away the last resistances of wakefulness, mimicking thinking, but undermining it, and this ushers you down to the next phase.

In the third face, things like this reach a bottom out, or a plateau point, in any case, they become dense, the flickering discursiveness of the glass onion is replaced by a stilled, single lattice, which overcasts your mind, and hangs there, sometimes for some time, ominously, it is as if you are being held down, and forced to calm yourself, to prepare for your journey. I have experienced many a strange hypnagogic state in which an image lattices over the inside of eye scope and just hangs there, ominously, for some time.

And then, fourth, is the pinch, this is when the space activates again, only now it pinches, it pulls you down, it draws you in, like water down a drain, and in this concentration, and movement, you are at least carried down the drain to sleep. This is the wormhole phase.

And so, five, is the breakthrough, when you are no longer conscious, there is no trace of consciousness, and the dreaming brain takes over and you are in dream. Deep REM sleep.

In terms of entering the art world, it is clear that the purpose of a field or world around art is linked to priming the viewer for reception. The art world exists in the world, and the world is static. Any entry into the art world however brings with it a regularity of seeing things, and visual style, and a ritual, annually enacted, repeatedly, and so you get in a rhythm, and it kind of prepares you for art, for ‘falling asleep’ in art. This is the static TV of the art world. There is also a static TV field stage for the fashion world, and any other world, all with their little rituals that lift you away from the everyday.

And then, below that, is the glass onion. This consists of the sigils and symbols, the abstracted ways of communicating, the half language and half image. It occurs to me now, and this is a major breakthrough for me, as I have protested the persistence of the white cube for 20 years, that is the job of the white cube to act as the static which then acts as the stage on which conceptual art related pieces can behave in the form of abbreviated consciousness, in the language of the glass onion.
And then when at last you zero in on one gallery, then that installation serves as the lattice, which stops everything without, and makes you being to almost dream the particular art. It just hangs there.

And then there is the wormhole pinch. Well, the pinch occurs in art when you ‘fall into it’ and experience it in a way that is self-reflecting and makes a point on you, to make you think differently about things. It is rare the art that can pinch you toward sleep
Finally, true art is the waking equivalent of falling asleep, of dreaming, it is when you are going with it, in its world, and letting it flow over you, effortlessly, with no reason of one’s own.

The last two stages of the imposition of this model over the art world are at present a bit tenuous. But the first elements, these are insights worth consideration. Any review, from this point of view, should ‘fall asleep’ with the art, and follow the process of falling asleep. In terms of agency, this progression results in the agency of the self being compromised by an artist and then submitting oneself entirely to the world of the artist, to let them for a time be the creative spirit that motivates the world (as dream itself is apparently self-generating, without effort). In this regard, too, truly successful art is a return to childhood in that by abdication to an artist to momentarily or for a time control and create the world you submit yourself to him/her and thus relieve yourself of the pressure of having to plan and act in the world, you can just play, so it is like that.

According to this model, rounds, the routines and rituals of the art world, are as important to the process of seeing and knowing contemporary art as the artwork themselves. If you do not belong to the art world, it is unlikely you will participate in its rythms of ritual, if you do not submit yourself to the static of the white cube repeatedly represented to you, it is unlikely you will be able to communicate in that half dreamy semaphore heuristic that the art world has devised for this type of communication. If you cannot read the code of the glass onion, no key will be found to cause it to cease, a hang there as a lattice. And then there will be no pinch, and no submission to dream in art.

Thus a full oneirographic review of art demands mention of the field trends, the gallery as part of other galleries, the gallery itself, contact with the code, the appraisal of the glass onion, the compression or stilling in a lattice, the hanging there of the lattice, the arrival and experience of the pinch, and then the falling down into a dream, and complete submission to it, understood without understanding.

This takes then from my Uecker review (see previous), a sequence, sequentially reported on, as I go through. My reviews have to take this form. I GO THROUGH, and in doing so, I FALL ASLEEP in art and dream it.

It also occurs to me that the internet, seeing things online, accentuates, then blunts, this process. Because there is a visual likeness between the average internet page, the spray of google search pages and google image pages, a tumblr tumble, and a gallery, it may be that the internet per se presents itself as a substitute field that replaces but in a short changed way the ritual aspect of the art. Then, there is a decided emphasis on the white cube. You tend to see more of the static, and are forced then, by this foregrounding typical of photographs, to decipher the meaning, or see it only as a code. Since the images stay at that level, as “installation views,” this tends to arrest perception at the level of the glass onion. It is rare when things zero in in detail on a particular work, and let you lattice in it, to arrive at a place of lower gravity. I have noted that perhaps in compensation for this sense of lacking, I tend to exert a retrogressive force against virtual images and want them to be real. I want the picture to be a picture of real thing, and so for Marc Quinn at Venice even though I knew his statue was inflatable to accommodate easier shipping in the real world, seeing it online I wanted it to be stone, and even though I know that it is inflated, I look at an image of it, and I see it still as stone. The same thing happens with Rudolph Stingels piece at the Palazzo Grassi. I read that it was all photocopy, but for all that I still reviewed it as if it was all real carpet. I wanted it to be real carpet, because I was mentally compensating for its lack of presence. Odd. So, then it is extremely aware that presentation of art online can let one at least fall to sleep with the art. Online represents insomnia, something about it never allows you to fall into the work. This surfacing, this refusal to shut up the thoughts of the day, this superficiality, accounts for the fact that art as conceptualized in galleries does not register too well as art online, but that a new sort of art has surfaced to accommodate the weakness of the online presentation, what I call Wow Art. Wow art is pop art, but formatted with freakishness and oddness and wowness designed to get it a click, in the jungle of internet image bombardment. A gallery work of art will not do, except as part of a code in the glass onion. To create a facsimilie of falling asleep art on the surface of the glass onion, wow art accomodates with freakshow wonders.

The intermedial relations of Pop Art were newspapers, magazines, TV, movies, radio, billboards and advertising over all. The intermedial relations of Post Pop art were still those, and then specialization and niches of all, including cable tv, MTV, the demise of the newspaper, the proliferation of magazines, the collapse of network TV etc.

Wow Art is the art of the intermedial relations superceded by the internet, all of the above gradually being gobbled up by the internet, newspapers, magazines, tv, radio, billboards, advertising, plus other internet-special forms like feeds and the like. In this new intermedial climate, a new kind of art is needed. The main problem with the internet right now is that it lacks a sense of field, and feels disjunt, its glass onion is perpetual, and ongoing, but then constantly interfered with by advertising. Also, since the computer grew up in a previous intermedial age as a personal tool the attempt by the public media to impose advertising on it seems to compromise a sense of entitlement to personal and private that is part of the internet culture. Finally, the internet, while there are deep proprietary places, becomes increasingly fixated on traffic, and, in doing so, is glutting with redundancy, getting stuffed with patch writing mill writing, endlessly superficial, and a flattening and shallowing out that actually cuts it off from art, arresting us forever with an insomnia in the static of every day life.

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