Posted by: Xhyra Graf | 7 September 2006

Bricolage Blah Blah…

Basically, the work is a compilation of things I already had that I could work with in a mildly OCD way and think about stuff.  I’ve spent some time retracing the previous work to see where I would go on to.  These were what I would call model pieces, since I eventually wanted to do something outside.  I still haven’t figured out how to do the monofilament piece in my head outside.  The Deep Structure piece was supposed to use monofilament, but I couldn’t get it to look right.  All of these pieces are an attempt at “overloaded simplicity.”  I don’t believe you have to refer to art history to have “content.”  I don’t even really believe you have to directly refer to anything but your own thoughts and processes (of course you are affected by everything) so, at bottom, it really is contemplating my navel.

Qualia Red: The picture is one view of the piece-The Quality of Red Bottom Up.  There are actually two other views. Top Down and Sideways, which I am not particularly interested in visually.  Bottom Up, I looooove.  This piece addresses a couple of things: 1.) Qualia – a philosophy term that basically means subjective experience or what it is like to be me.  There is a philosophy example that specifically talks about a physical scientist and proposes that she knows all there is to know about the colour red without actually ever having viewed it.  Like the elephant paintings, that’s a load of crap.  2.) It also addresses the terms in cognitive psychology-Top Down and Bottom Up processing.  Top down being concept driven and Bottom Up being data or sense driven. The views, I believe, correspond perfectly with what these terms mean to me.  The way that artists, most people, initially experience things, viscerally, bottom-up is more interesting, less defined.  There is a feeling of the body in the picture as opposed to the other views when all you see is what they are-bingo chips.  This is the kind of thing that subjective experience is all about.  The kind of thing that is not quantifiable.  The reason why I love it and you kind of shrug your shoulders.  The Sideways view is just reference to a few writers who have the idea that we have to come at trying understanding “Qualia” in a synthesized way, using both methods.  Sideways is a term one of them used.

No Concept of Deep Structure Here Either: or “lead weights” addresses a linguistic concept by Noam Chomsky.  The best way I can explain it is that deep structure can be thought of as a way of saying that there is a Universal Grammar, although if you’re a philosopher you will quickly point out that they are different.  This came about as I was trying to explain what I wanted to do for the masters essay to one of my professors.  I remember sitting across from him in his office and feeling to myself as if I was watching my words fall in front of me like tiny lead weights – falling yes, but so tiny that they made no impact as the reached the floor singly, some of them couldn’t even fall all the way as he focused on them.  [Here is where the monofilament was supposed to help me.]  They were held in the air by the new structure he gave them which totally interfered with mine.  Only the entire collection of them would make any impact. [So I settled for making an anal-retentively organized clump of them.]  As I talked to him it became almost an observational exercise, watching as he took some of my words and made them his own – which made them float differently, unable to fit into what I was saying and really meant.

DNA Memory of a Generational Curse: “MotherDear’s beads” addresses the thoughts I have about how we are “babelfied.”   I sometimes truly believe it’s all just a language problem.  “Generational Curse” is a Jamaican term – steeped with superstition.  Maybe other people use it – I don’t know.  On both sides of my family, there is the ability to do some things and have experiences that just don’t fit into science models and, of course, stifling this kind of “ability” doesn’t make it easy to be psychologically stable.  In a different age or place we would be priestesses/shamans; in this age we are stifled not only by ‘scientific’ standard, but largely by Christianity.  “DNA Memory” kind of means the same thing as generational curse, because it can be used to explain pseudo-scientifically how sometimes you are able to do things without really knowing how you did them and can pull memories that seem ancient or are things you really should not know-it’s genetically coded.  The beads I collected from pieces of broken jewellery found among my Grandmother’s [MotherDear] things when we were going through stuff after she died.  This piece just refers to the weight we carry that in one culture is a spiritual thing and in another culture is genetic baggage.

Pinpointing the Neural Correlates of Emotion: “Last Nerve” is referring to my anger/frustration obviously.  It is also referring to the work that scientists do in the hope that they will one day be able to put a charge from an electrode onto a neuron or neural net and cause the emotion that they want.  Even if they did, would it fit in properly with my personal Qualia Collection?   I can tell you exactly where my anger happens in my skull and where it goes from there.  I describe it in the statement.  It goes along with a physical therapist professor from FIU making the observation in a lecture that whenever he has dancers in his class, they can just point to the muscle currently being discussed, where it takes other “science” students years to master where muscles are and what they do.  The pins are set out according to a drawing I made of 3 neurons and the tiny gold balls [part of motherdear’s beads] are set at the ends where they almost connect.

These are all in my head very literal hence the visual simplicity.  They are in contrast overloaded with theory, which is why I get frustrated and angry sometimes.  Especially when certain people say things like “unintellectual and sophomoric.”  Simplicity does not necessarily mean lack of involvement, knowledge or content.  And it definitely does not mean something is amiss because of lack of reference to art history.  In some circles, simplicity designates a truth value.  My “Qualia” dictates what I do, if my work is derivative and sophomoric to the external viewer, oh well. The navel is very, very interesting to me.  Of course, the first sentence of the statement refers to the realization that the work really doesn’t mean anything unless the visual contains all the content.  It’s debatable whether I succeeded at that.



  1. […] Lead Weights: No Concept of Deep Structure Here Either [2006] […]

  2. […] my sister.  The quote was pulled by her as relevant to our shared history and capabilities.  [See Bricolage post re: MotherDear's Beads].  I had a conversation about the movie with a friend of mine today, […]


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