/ 15 June, 2015

Art of action thinking the action to think of art


SMS text messages seemed to bother during the first five days of the Twelfth Biennial of Havana to critics, curators and leading specialists of the country, including some associated with the organization of that event. So, few fully understood the preset text Actv.Cerebral_H.R.F//-* more a numerical pattern, which harassed their mobile phones on a regular basis, was the product of an artistic work. I say few because this goal public, only designated to appreciate the work in its entirety, was itself reduced. As if the challenge were not enough, if the selected segment could not connect the origin of such messages with brain activity issued by the artist Hector Remedios, walker dressed in overalls and electroencephalogram helmet, they would never understand what the proposal was about. And of course, frankly disadvantaged, there was that other public largely “passive” that apparently only enjoyed the action, not the content, or at least not in its entirety.

Then Telepatía (Telepathy) was certainly a difficult piece to understand. Many factors influence in this sense beyond fragmentation in the presentation of the artistic fact, although this nevertheless led many to question what the work itself was: the gesture, messages, technological system designed… In short, the halt in the morphological complexity of the proposal is timely, because even without notice it- we attended a essentially transdisciplinary creative process, which design took more than a year of work and which highlighted the intermingling of the artistic component with fields of electronics, physics, biology, computer science, medical science, etc. And even though this year’s Havana Biennial calls for the artistic logics based on transversality and transdisciplinarity (fact that did not imply, however, acceptance of Telepatía in the official program), there is no doubt that such “exchanges” were poorly addressed.

We’re not used to, in our context, this type of work of transgressive nature where the bioelectrical activity of the artist’s brain becomes the material for the construction of the discourse. It still persists the surprise of the viewer by seeing a system designed to capture the Alpha waves (bioelectric waves ranging between 7.5 and 13 Hz) of the brain that, through a signal amplifier circuit connected to an Arduino and this in turn to a Shields (GPRS), was responsible for sending the encephalic register to the legitimizing agents of art in Cuba. Maybe we not yet possess the necessary tools for dismantling this type of piece that is totally demarcated from modernist art construction and rubs of unprecedented proposals -I venture to say- in the local art scene such as BioArt given the use of bioelectricity in Telepatía.

But besides revealing and innovative in somatic terms, this solution, from the conceptual order, opened a multitude of ways, reflective possibilities. And there is one of the principles determining the wealth of the reception process that Telepatía offered us. The gesture of the artist by limiting the registration to capture his Alpha waves, waves that favor the so-called Alpha state associated with moments of great creativity, proves a deliberate emphasis in questioning this concept and how it has been inevitably linked with the artistic praxis, when we know that in fact it does not happen that way. At the same time, Telepatía proposed an analogy between the functioning of the brain where neuronal movement involves in addition to processing, the management and distribution of information, the reception of multiple responses, and the relationship the art critic establishes with the work which “… stands as a brain transmitting codes that subsequently receives numerous responses to this emission, either through critical texts or other means”. So here comes into play another important edge for the understanding of this performance which is related directly to the receptive process, specifically to the role of the art critic. It is part of the gesture to think, but to think and reflect on art, as the artist sends his bioelectric pulses produced by the effect caused by watching phenomena or artistic events, and thus raises the resulting thought to the category of art work. Mediation which implies the existence of an artistic object based on directly connecting the art critic with his working material is suppressed, as if a telepathic action, i.e., that transfer of psychic contents between individuals developed through the mind, to occur. The artist retakes the gain of conceptualism when declaring as valid the artistic idea by itself without being channelled in one way. He does it without insisting on the revision or questioning the traditional art modes but above all those of the Cuban art, the contexts and false scenarios where is currently inserted, as well as the false assumptions -perhaps not false but demodé – used for its conceptualization -think about the Biennial’s proposals-, the legitimizing agents, the work of art per se and of course the role of the receiver in these processes. Thus Telepatía highlighted that the debate about art and its ontological status remains open and that there is still much to talk on the subject because, as Adorno pointed “… it has become evident that nothing concerning art is evident: neither in itself nor in its relationship to the whole, or in its right to exist. “

Marilyn Payrol

Marilyn Payrol

(Santa Clara, 1990). Graduate of Art History at the University of Havana. Professor of Theory and Criticism at the University of the Arts (ISA). She is the editor of the website of Art OnCuba magazine. Their texts are available Artecubano News and Art OnCuba website.

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