Nik Geene. meeting. November 21 ~ 29.


fill the gaping blue holes wickedly made by birds. [i]

Auckland is littered with the reassuring assertions of a city council “Getting On With” the totalizing revitalization of its urban artery, all mandatory pronouncements slung banner-like across sundry civic quarters – Public Transport, Aotea Square and The Civic all becoming flagship celebratory tributaries in this riverine, decorative scheme. “Getting On” occurs as a colloquial, perfunctory contract between mobile constituents in a mythic sphere of historical urban alienation, and here appears – however illuminated – as a necessary appeasement and recess of the city’s tangled porosity. Publicized as this sort of expedient, economic negotiation, courtesy becomes a fraternal procedure reduced to bureaucratic impulse and the rites of accountability. Informed by taut mutual Utilitarianist benefits, it turns into a retreating commitment to sheer municipal maintenance, subsistence. “Getting On” pays equivocal dues to the teleologies of cultural investment but only through its customary dutiful charisma, displaying its diligent reluctance so visibly that redevelopment becomes a modest inevitability, despite all the coarse architectural flecks that remain beheld behind the site- and sightlines of this operation’s diluted azure. The Auckland City Council’s “Getting On With…” campaign performs as a however hard-working palliative on the city’s destructive inclination. It calmly and casually promises to not let the city fall to pieces. Meanwhile, the Christchurch City Council capitalizes on the permanent prestige of its Cultural Precinct by promising a perennial verdant spring that only ever flourishes despite its stillborn tenure in the Arts Centre.

The encounter moves in waves, etymologically transpiring across a rhythmic interface, a temporal lapping of expectation and reminiscence upon and across a locus of conjunctive mingling. The meeting thus happens as a beat, either precise, syncopated, or just dreadfully executed; as a phenomenology of gratification or incoherent despair – nevertheless always resuscitated by a type of luxury seen in the speckled tabula rasa of any emergent interpersonal or social dynamic. It occurs like a figure aligning or alighting across a blank field, producing a depth of field that quantifies and qualifies the immateriality of the unpopulated ‘rendezvous’ or any mere meditative solitude. This expectant absence recalls the albescent closure of Antonioni’s Eclipse, where the empty tableaux are haunted by a transient embrace that becomes an invisible fixture and impression of departed or unacquainted lovers. The encounter gets (pre)figured over a sort of eerie mise en sce√®ne, upon a type of abstract color field as temporal interference. As Yves Klein writes, “colors alone inhabit space, whereas the line only travels through it and furrows it. The line travels through infinity, whereas color is infinity. Through color, I experience total identification with space”[ii] yet his sentiments are preempted by his own line of flight. In performing this spectatorial ‘line’, embodied on both haptic and optic angles across the said expansive plane, he fractures a space that becomes polysemic and anti-total in his very rhythmic splicing. “The dream escapes from the two-dimensional image” [iii], as Bachelard says. “Soon, in a paradoxical way the airborne dream exists only in depth, while the two other dimensions, in which picturesque and painted reverie are attained, lose all visionary interest”.

“The power of cinema as an instrument for extending vision”, writes Ellen Strain, “is often summarized as the ability to put the spectator in motion as a disembodied eye, fully unencumbered, allowing limitless motion through the spectator’s identification with the camera”, buttressing the desire to be “fully immersed in an environment yet literally or figuratively distanced from the scene in order to occupy a comfortable viewing position” [iv]. And it is this filmic orientation, this ‘point of view’ taken up on the action by a mobile viewer that “proceeds”, as Bourdieu writes, “as if it were intended solely for knowledge and as if all the interactions within it were purely symbolic exchanges” [v], buttressing the visual evidence for a putative ‘objectivism’ predicated on this peculiarly cinematic ultimatum, and preserving the viewer’s comfortably screened-out, epistemological world. Our interfaced and interlaced motion throughout the Experience is symptomatic of this mythic wish for an authenticity that is enhanced through filmic compression and made accessible through a simulated time-travelling, while concealing our own corporeal limitations in monitoring a ‘truth’ that exists outside the coordinates of this cinematographically demarcated space. Thus, our reassuring formatting into the stylized chronology of the Adventure might necessitate a kind of forgetting of our bodies in the very spectacle of anthropomorphic display. Yet in the work displayed here, it is our reluctantly expectant approach towards the quiescent surface, our less prosthetic attunement to the aura of the object that prompts a less assured, mobile stance upon the pictorial plane, surely distantly immersed, but nevertheless hesitant in its momentary encounter and absorption into the looming image, itself receding, retreating into the coordinates of its own filmic frame, while becoming more or less seductive in the deceptively seamless and linear process.

i. Guy Bachelard, quoted in Yves Klein, quoted in Michael Auping, Declaring Space. Prestel Publishing, 2007, p. 54.
ii. ibid, 55.
iii. ibid.
iv. Ellen Strain, Public Places, Private Journeys: Ethnography, Entertainment, and the Tourist Gaze. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, July 2003, p. 21-25.
v. Pierre Bourdieu. The Logic of Practice, trans. Richard Nice. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990, p. 52.