BORIS NIESLONY

AN ENCOUNTER

How to write, when the span of thoughts, associations and memories is tremendous.

What to write, because I ‘m no longer sure what is memory and what has been altered by fantasy. The cold fragments slide under and over each other like ice floes; a vast and frozen time.

There are some things that I would dare to write that have a quasi-real history, and the movement of my writing will follow the icy course of this splintered perception.

On one side, to begin with, the clear facts (how clear are they to me really?): a person, an artist that I assumed I didn’t know until then. A stranger. She moved between strangers, as most of the people present, like me, in a confused mess. Chaotic, jostling and scrambling, pushing and lifting chairs over heads and driving through the crowd. Voices buzzed and mingled to a maddening pitch. Scraping, pushing and shoving, and somehow and somewhere in the middle, the organizer wanting and needing to find order.

Then this woman chose a position and spread out a surface, moving it back and forth, adjusting and orientating it. Then she placed paper, pencils and a sharpener. A temporal staggering and waiting, attunement and focusing, then followed the movement of her hand.

She draws. Whether she draws with both hands, whether she uses one or more pencils - it has fallen into the darkness of memory.

On the other side, what caught my perception and interest, and put my thoughts in motion and stopped me from following the movements of her hands, was the force that I saw directed through her. Starting from one central point, the disarray of indeterminate persons and indeterminate movements was given a determinate sense – a sense of an active and indefinable attentiveness.

REFERENCING, SHOWING AND GENERATING.
The concentration that emanated from her - like gravity, pulled me out of this pervasive disorder, and also directed me. This directing, or “referencing,” led me again to a new position; on the one hand, to the direct perspective of the artist - with her viewpoint of the action, and on the other hand, a general overview. It necessitated that I be both a part and not a part of the action.

To be able to show thoughts and display interests - to co-determine these actions, became the reason for my presence.

The event was a kind of conference, and was initially an informal and unstructured meeting. The invited artists and project-makers were prompted for thoughts, suggestions, designs and works that could be combined into a large, comprehensive project. This is in Potsdam near Berlin.

Arguments - rebuttals went on in their rapid course – a vibrant circumstance with endless movements of bodies, arms, legs and hands coming from countless directions, keeping this tangled mess busy.

What she saw, perceived and transferred onto the paper with this flowing and vibrant movement of her hands, I could not tell. Attempts to find a parallel between her perception and the movement of her hands mostly failed, and prompted the idea that her eyes were perceiving a great deal; there was an enormous amount streaming into her eyes, a parallel bundle of multiple views.

Experiments with a linear viewpoint, a linear centered line of sight, as well as simultaneous perceptions by the eye of collateral incidences were familiar to me. Parallel selections happen and a physical translation occurs.

She turns selected movements directly into lines, line bundles, and clusters of lines. She connects the bodies, hands, and heads into collections of knots, spreading braids, jagged tangles and graphical traces. She binds the present and who and what is present to each other into an atmospheric network.

An intuitive understanding of this will accompany this text as a floating feature of attention and a floating question.

What was both fascinating and decisive for me, was an overriding principle – her position, the center of gravity. A helpful concept, but it was not adequate enough to sum up the situation, and I was not sure that what was happening with the drawing, the hands and the writing instruments on and over the paper where analogous to anything I had experienced. What was it?

None of the traditional forms of performance art were applicable, or it was not yet known to me. At this time in Germany, the “Performative Turn” had not yet been proclaimed. What I would like to call a performance in this situation, what I was shown as a performance was a simultaneity of distance, overview, stance, purpose and the innermost part of a person. The choice of the location, view and overview, and the transference of this comprehensive perspective through hands on paper proved to be a performance.

The experience of paradox as the innermost part of performance.

In this moment, an open situation, difficult to describe. An unknown framework. The simultaneity of action and passion, and their opposites. The abolition of the difference between actor and spectator; a two-way interaction done as an open process rather than a forced participation.1

QUESTIONS - ANSWERS. THE GAME OF THE ENCOUNTER.
We got to know each other, descriptions and explanations followed. She gave me insight into her perception, she gave me the concepts – they placed themselves firmly in my head, stepped into my thinking and one phrase stuck there: She ennobles movement and moment.

In the years that followed, our paths often crossed, by chance, then by invitation. Spending time together, meeting the need to see more, understand more, and seeing how the different frames of specific events have been altered by her interventions. We drank wine, had some dinner together and we repaired her suitcase. The uniqueness of the first encounter transitioned into the understanding of the variability of various uses of her working method. I want to be careful here when using the word method. She showed me the results of her application in various professions - the “trace of craftsmanship,” and she showed me the different applications in social and cultural formats such as dance, music, various readings and performances as a member of a jazz ensemble.

The difference between the concept of “Live Transmission” and “Translation” began to work its way into my thinking. Questions began to form.

Can a person perceive external, highly complex phenomena and transmit these perceptions by way of various bodily systems, and with such a direct tool, leave no trace of these systems in the transmission? Quasi-skipping, bypassing biological processes. Can a person let these phenomena flow through these innumerable processes and become unmediated?

Is transmission an apt term? It stands specifically for this body of work, what else could it mean?

A de-ranged view of time? Is it a transformation that’s happening here?

Then follow questions on the visualization of force-fields and their presence. Her own movement, and the movement patterns of all those in attendance are force fields.

Tuning, alignment, avoiding interferences or using them purposefully, letting linear energy transference take its course, etc. Force-fields are force-games, drawing as a game of force-lines.

A bouquet of interesting questions is presented.

From the bouquet protrudes a sharp thorn: trace and product.

I cannot, and do not want to deny that I have looked at the products, the final, finished drawing, the stacked drawings with a certain amount of skepticism. Beautiful portfolios, beautiful publications, but what I’m missing is the internal view of the “Live Act.” Mindful of various aesthetic lessons and practices of perception that I have conveniently experienced and enjoyed, I was confronted with helplessness when presented with the drawings.

I can capture the lines and line-networks in movement patterns, but it’s not understandable without explanation, if the trace of movement originated from person as a whole, or parts of a person. Have arms, hands, head, torso and legs loosened? Do they whirl on paper, or do they come from several bodies, parts of bodies? Is this relevant? Explanations have limitations.

My perception constantly oscillates between the aesthetic consideration of drawing as a whole - format, distribution, density of strokes - as an aesthetic unit of an aesthetic product, and apperceptive analysis.

I see this product as the constructed meaning of a former, random sequence. Put multiple contexts into consideration. What and who was the trigger of the drawing, including interpretation and background? How did the action unfold, as time elapsed in lines? Are explanations helpful for the aesthetic effect? Or is the effect significant only with explanation, and without aesthetic relevance?

Would this method be interesting to a diagrammatic thinker?

How does the action unfold as a performative act if the trace movement-patterns are a production without product?

And there stands, powerful, the figure of the highly concentrated Morgan O’Hara.

I now take a step back, have a look, and make an intuitive assessment of the situation. I recall the words of Paul Valéry, who described such moments as “a spiritual awkwardness.”

Translated by Nina Samuel and David Steiger
Berlin, Germany
2015