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One Bright Day, People Get Together

From 19th June to 18th July 2004
Private View, Friday 18th June, 6pm

Dick Evans, Olivia Plender, Steve Williams

To anyone starting out that morning in search of princesses to save, Holy Grails to quest for, new countries to be discovered, souls to save, lands to conquer, or lost paradises… to all those who, leaving the comfort of daily routine, were searching for themselves through the magical and heroic acts of creation, art appeared unexpectedly, after the first bend in the path. It loomed enormous and immobile, full of years of glory, of dreamt-of perfection, of marble and chrome, of polarized glass, of corner stones, of dried mud. It consisted of innumerable geometric forms, as in an infinite polyhedron, out of which grew organic excrescencies, tensile structures and pneumatic appendices. Innumerable libraries were contained within its body, and the golden mean and divine proportion were not sufficient to describe it. This was the great animal and the mirror which hunters had created and followed after for as long as memory could tell. It was said that whoever ate of it would become immortal. It was also said that only from the mystical union of the subject with his representation could the existence of the subject himself derive. There was therefore dramatic problem of self-realization, since the hunter had to create the beast in his image and likeness (the mirror) in order to recognize himself therein, and on the other hand, it was difficult to create an image of oneself without a mirror. Several other efforts had been made in the past, through mean statistics and the trial and error system. Naturally, all the creators of the creature had died, leaving erroneous descriptions of the creative process, as an ultimate mystification, in order to render the way more difficult for the other hunters...

The Beginning

I was walking in the sand... uncomfortable, strange... This terrain is foreign to me. Proceeding in a straight line, I left the encampment behind me, with its friendly whispering from the tent. Silence enfolded me, incredible, tangible: the light dawn wind making an inaudible sound. Looking at the sand in front of my feet, I seemed to see a line traced there. "The Line!" Instinctively, thinking it a hallucination, I touched it with my foot, erasing a part of it. I felt guilty, as if I had committed sacrilege. The line, a light trace in the sand continued on in front of me. Following it meant excitement and fear together. The line ended in a small black mark. I knelt down. An insect pushes a small sphere made of sand, and it is with this that it traces the line. What can this mean? I remember the old words: "Art consists of all the modifications and alterations operated on the surface of the earth in view of human requirements, excepting only pure wasteland" (Morris)... Excepting only pure wasteland! I do not understand. I am confused. I get up and feel the sun high in the sky, on my shoulders, pushing me, pushing me onward with its arms of fire. Walking up the crest of a sand dune, I ask myself, bewildered, "What do the line, the insect, the sphere, mean? I get the impression that I have been faced with another intersection and that I have missed its meaning. The sense of confidence caused by having discovered the first one has suddenly left me: but, lifting my eyes, I see the pyramid in front of me, I rush down the dune, tripping, falling, I get up: the pyramid is before me, with its facade pointing upwards to the infinite; high up in front of me I see the entrance; slowly I limb up the stones, I begin to mount towards the millennia. I find myself on the threshold, two steps more and the sun leaves me. I am writing by torchlight in the Pharaoh's chamber, I do not know how I got here, perhaps memories through my studies, the reliefs I had observed for long moments in fascination have guided me since the darkness I know I am before a fundamental intersection, I must understand! In the bare room in front of the empty sarcophagus, enfolded in the absolute deep silence, I feel the weight of the stones and of the centuries. I am sweating, as if with the sweat of the millions of men who have raised the stones for a man who had made himself god and who had used art as an instrument to prove his omnipotence to others and to himself…

The House

I have left the avenue with its sculpted boa hedges behind me by now, my way has become a path in a forest which grows ever thicker. Seated on an exposed root, I observe the tormented shapes of the trees that rise over me. Slowly, I begin to notice flowers, mushrooms, small birds in the branches. I can hear the rustling of leaves, calls of animals, buzzing of insects, small whisperings. I watch the green grow darker; as the light wanes progressively the fresh evening air calms me. I decide to stop here for the night. But, as in an ancient tale, a little while ago I had noticed a small light through the branches. I have drawn nearer, and now find myself faced with the strangest house I have ever seen. It is not very big, but in compensation is made of the most diverse materials: stones, bricks, rough and carved wood, rough, white or smooth coloured plasterwork marble ceramics. The roofs, sharp and complex, are made of filet, wood, slate, straw; above them rises a small tower in an indefinable style, with a pointed roof: it is almost completely smothered in ivy, wisteria and rotes. The most varied decorations cover all ' surfaces, fill all corners. Both new and time-damaged, they are made of the most varying materials: plaster or wrought iron, wood or stone, mosaic or plastic, terracotta or glass. I draw near to the windows; each of a different shape, each one protected by different curtains they give out a soft light, subdued sounds, the odour of old cooking, antique furniture, materials, flowers, wax. The memories of experiences I have not lived meet me with the evening shadows; time seems suspended in a heavy sweetness. Then, the last daylight reveals strange garlands on the sills of some of the windows; the mysterious lumps that form them are human hearts, some dried and wrinkled, others still beating, and the white objects among the pots of geraniums on the windowsills, are they not hands? They stand upright on their stumps, in various strange attitudes, some joined in prayer, others clasped in friendship, som n the fly net on the plate? Yes, children's eyes, weeping, eyes drooping with sleep or death. I draw back much upset; who lives in the absurd, pathetic, pained, fierce house?-The squeaking of the door replies: an old man appears, white-haired, bent, dressed in an old-fashioned manner. He does not see or hear me; he goes into the chicken run and, making hen noises, feeds his chickens. He caresses the cat playing in the grass, sits on the bench near the door and plays slow music on his flute. I draw near, the flute is a tibia, a fragile human tibia. Fighting the enchantment of the music, the place, the hour. I manage to ask some of the thousand questions pressing within me; I am not aware of whether I am shouting, sobbing, whispering. The slow music continues: then the old man raises the flute towards me and says: "This is all that is left of my fiancee". A barrier of tears separates me from the old man, the house enfolded in darkness is now an indistinct form: I fall helplessly back into the grass with my eyes raised to the stars. What has this line that hurts me so much encountered this time? Should it not have been a game, a joke? The ridiculous, pitiful stupidity of the deformity of form? A silly game to play with a few laughs. An irreverent parody of noble aesthetics. Unarmed, bold, I had not supposed the line could cut me through the heart. And here I am now, lost once again, before a rejected, negated, derided type of art. Realizing that only this can compensate our small, impossible desires, substitute lost dreams, console the pain of every day. If plastic flowers have no perfume, on the other hand, they never die and this is no small thing, for those who live in a world of death. What is culture? Is it a wicked witch who wants to destroy all plastic dwarfs? Is it endeavouring with its art-critics claws, only to take the thumb out of a starving child's mouth? And, if a soft toy can give pleasure, calm anxiety, recall a memory, cannot the Cathedral of Rheims be of use to him who embraces it? To the Templars to give some advice, "Go on a pilgrimage to the Cathedral at Rheims but go with an empty stomach, with your legs bent with fatigue, with your heart swollen with pain, with your intelligence crushed by the lies of Power. Then you too will be able to understand what a soft toy can mean."

The Love

Cultivated fields, stretches of parallel or perpendicular furrows on both sides of the road; all the greens of nature coordinated by man's hand, by the blind precision of his machines. On the left-hand side of the road, there is a huge field of artichoke plants; in the cloudy, blue-green expanse, as still and as calm as the sea, a white gallery floats, I recognize it from afar, it is Villa Savoye: I make my way towards it through the artichokes. I pass through a partially broken-down fence and find myself in front of it. I have been running, I gasp for breath, I find myself as nervous as a boy faced with his first love, my first love in art. I look dismayed at the deserted place, the artichoke plants reach under the pilotis, almost invading the ground floor, some glass is broken, all glass is covered with a film of dust: the white of the walls is offended by spots of damp and mould. I walk up the ramp, desolation is everywhere; this is the saddest stage of obsolescence, the one in which the house, having lost the life its inhabitants gave it, has not yet acquired that of nature and time: the autonomous life of ruins, of decay. I am on the patio, which was once a place for the sun, for Cartesian reason, for proud faith in a better future for all; today it is a cemetery of dead leaves and fallen birds. I weep; I wept at length, like a child, sobbing and crying out of me all the disappointments and wounds of years, with no reserve, alone in this lost space, lost forever to me, to all of us who had believed so strongly, hoped so much. Now all is ended, I can dry my eyes with the wind of another sunset and I go down the ramp without looking around me again. I leave behind me a whole world of ideas, once again finished, defeated. Re-crossing the artichoke field, I feel light, reborn, out of my grief. I can analyze with detachment the reason for this defeat. Was this the mistake of identifying man with an idea radiant but preconceived? It was a try at building an immobile gallery around a moving man. A man to be conside led and wished to be what he is, so as to form around him an idea that could proudly be considered definitive and that, instead, he continues to avoid with the same fierce obstinacy with which he tries to avoid the tomb. I can read this intersection the meeting of architecture and reason; only that reason, which was claimed as a reason for all, was but once again the reason of the few. Thus, hope and reason have ended up in an artichoke field, its plants, set up in rows close together and at the same like the houses in our suburbs, a poisonous fertilizer for mass-produced products destined as always for the market. The superior and illuminated logic of the "radiant villa" is set higher than the short-sighted logic of our artichoke growers, but shares the same field with them: on different planes, the same logic, that of capital.

The Machines

I go further into my city. But now I am a stranger. With reborn eyes, I look once again at the same things and I find them different. All these people who abhor contact—I would like to touch them: do they still have flesh under their clothes? They are strangers to me, I don't know them. The pavement carries me in a direction, I don't know where, and others with me; it suddenly turns into a metallic hall, and I find myself in the presence of the art machines. Shiny or dark gears, shining metal or plastic shapes, blinking lights, sounds, vibrations, rhythmical movements, heat, energy. All the art machines are working, and there are men with them. An iron lung contains its man; the machine hums quietly and surely, the man is pale; immobility and silence. Is this good or evil? Does the machine possess the man or the man the machine? I search in the pale face for a desire for life or a hope of death: only this would be decisive but the face is silence. Watching the rapt, ecstatic faces, I wonder which art machine produces love, affection, friendship. I notice that this is the only gift the machines produce without programming or energy; the art machines are friends, lovers, mothers, perfect children. They give and ask nothing, they live and die at the touch of a finger. A man walks in a glass tunnel, a moving pavement carries him forward towards enchanting images and sweet music, joy, satisfaction, sex, food, power. Suddenly for no reason, the man turns round trying to flee, running back along the pavement, the sound and voices try to convince him, blandish him, exhort him, menace him; mechanical hands capture him, pull him in the right direction where all is now darkness and silence, the man is tied to a chair, a metallic voice reads his sentence, threadlike appurtenances brush against the man, who trembles, starts, falls back; the chair becomes alive. Enclosing the man's body within itself, the box vibrates, gives out heat and then opens again into a chair, new, clean, perfect. A notice states "To open the door use h it open the door and go out into the sunshine, into the park. The door closes, I lean on the stick, exhausted and then I remember I have it with me. It was the only one, I would like to put it back inside, but the door cannot be opened from outside. I reflect that in taking the stick I have shut thousand of people into the room of the art machines. I brandish the stick, I value its power, its multiple uses. It is a perfect art machine that, according to the man, can be a friend or an enemy. Much more than an extension to the arm, it is an extension to ideas. Exactly? Nothing less than the other thousands of art machines. For the first time, I have realized, explored, an intersection, which I thought would be sure, fundamental, and I have realized that it did not exist, it was an illusion. The intersection between art and the machine has been revealed as an intersection between art and man's will, but this is a single line; there is no intersection. The line continues, I must find the final intersection.

The End / Epilogue

Interest and curiosity and taken in connection with the existence, close at hand, of an immense crater-like depression, early gave rise to the theory that the crater itself was due to the impact of an enormous meteorite. This occurrence has often been described but is of sufficient interest to merit additional notice here. The region is that of an elevated, nearly level, sandy plain. The floor of which is composed in the main of buff-coloured ericaceous limestone which is capped here and there by residual patches of red sandstone and underlain by a highly siliceous, friable sand-stone. The crater-form depression is some 4,000 feet across and 600 feet deep, the original depth having been greatly lessened by debris blown in from the surrounding plain. The crater rim is composed of the upturned, crushed, broken, and bent beds of sand and limestone overlain by large blocks, sometimes thousands of tons in weight, of the same material thrown out from the crater itself. In addition are enormous quantities of finely pulverized siliceous sand which has plainly been derived from the sand-stone by the shock of an explosion or the impact of some descending body. There are also, intermingled with this, occasional blocks of siliceous pumice which apparently owe their origin to the fusion of the same sand-stone. So convincing are these facts that extensive drilling and tunnelling have been undertaken in the hope of finding a buried monster meteorite. Though the illustration given can leave no present doubt as the ultra-terrestrial origin of meteorites, it is but natural that there should at first have been much skepticism both in the popular and scientific mind regarding the possible fall of stones from empty space. So great was this skepticism that, as stated by E.F.F. Chladni, Vienna, in his FeuerMeteore published in 1819, the examples preserved in the public museums were hidden or catalogued under false denominations. Only recently, as it happens, on the occasion of the exhibition at the List Art Building (Providence R.I.) i on furnished regarding the origins of the crater. The inamoratrix machine made SUPERSTUDIO dream of much art, transporting it from Italy to America; here, in Coconino County, Arizona, the scene of Krazy Kat's deeds, all the dreams of reason, all interrupted art, all the frustrations of an intellectual profession and the illusions of revolution through art were condensed into a spheroid of frightening density. This mass, after having been suspended in the air for some minutes, drew nearer to the earth at ever increasing speed. The earth then began to withdraw and with no need for violent impact, a crater was formed. On the bottom of the crater, certain geometric shapes were born, the last extremely heavy remains of ancient meteorites of dominion. Then it was as if a translucent surface was formed, under which the Euclidean solids disintegrated.The surface then began to rise, amidst changing landscapes, becoming ever lighter, until it generated only illusory behavioural models. A meteor-like crater in Arizona alone remained. This event happened between 4 and 6 April 1972. The preceding crater, identical to the present one, closed over in the night of 3-4 April, thus putting an end to skepticism and controversy.

Editied, cropped and collaged from various writings by Superstudio 72-78.