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History of Nothing still .JPG

PR The Image of Something is an interactive exhibition that conveys Antonio Damasio’s theory of neural mapping through the technique of live slit scanning. Damasio describes mapping as “the result of the momentary activity of some neurons and the inactivity of others.”[1] Similarly, slit scanning results from rate of movement and obscures distance or size. It expands on the notion of temporal non-spatial relationships among objects, and the deformations created by positioning added apparatuses between the subject and the viewer.[2] The Image of Something is a live continuous slit scan that captures a single strip of visual reality and collages it over time to form one image. That production exemplifies a kind of visuality that activates what Paul Virilio calls “paradoxical logic.”[3] Such domination of virtuality over actuality presents an opportunity for architecture to pursue temporal design. The Image of Something is intended to be the third of a series of projects that exemplify Virilio’s three visual logics. It reimagines the “dialectical logic” of Eduardo Paolozzi’s 1962 film History of Nothing which is itself an homage to the “formal logic” of surrealism as it appears in Max Ernst’s 1934 book, A Week of Kindness. Just as Paolozzi found inspiration in Ernst’s collages of biomorphic forms and mechanical impressions to relay the relationships between people and technology, or the tensions between mankind and the machine, The Image of Something finds inspiration in Paolozzi’s sequel to Ernst.

AA The Image of Something draws on both Antonio Damasio’s theory of brain mapping in Self Comes to Mind (2010) and Paul Virilio’s genealogy of visual logic in The Vision Machine (1988). Virilio argues that modernity has utilized three kinds of logic: the formal logic of painting, engraving, etching and architecture; the dialectic logic of photography and film, and; the paradoxical logic of video recording, holography and computer graphics.  This project present three works as a series that exhibits those three logics. Formal logic is at work in Max Ernst’s 1934 book A Week of Kindness, comprised of 182 collaged surrealist screen prints arranged to present a dark and humorous subversion of bourgeois gentility, suggesting a repressed sexuality, violence, anti-militarism and anti-clericalism.  Eduardo Paolozzi’s 1962 film, History of Nothing, a twelve-minute sequence of collaged stills intertwined with instrumental music, is an homage to Ernst’s surrealism. The Image of Something is an instance of paradoxical logic. It presents an interaction of the real-time image and real space. The slit scanning performative display is true to Antonio Damasio’s Making Maps and Making Images, in which Damasio establishes that “maps are constructed when we interact with objects, such as a person, a machine, a place, from the outside of the brain toward the interior.”[4] In this, the live slit scan is a virtual visualization of our brain mapping, or brain imaging. Just as the neurological processes of imaging reflect our own constant motion, slit scanning captures our temporal existence beyond the spatial. This exhibition pushes viewers to perform their temporal existence through manipulations and contortions of their bodies. Can the same be done in architecture?

How can architectural design be more responsive and self-aware of our temporality as users and viewers, beyond spatial comforts?  

[1] Antonio Damasio, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain, 70, Vintage, 2010.   [2] Ivan Bernal, “Slits,” Course Syllabus: ARC 500, Spring 2018, School of Architecture, Syracuse University.   [3] Paul Virilio, The Vision Machine, 63, Indiana University Press, 1988.   [4] Damasio, 67.

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