ANDREJ MEDVED, poet and philosopher
THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE
The places in Nataša’s photographed images are “real” but actually symbolic, metaphors of a mental world, harmonious, universal, where only the spiritual, psychic journey, bathed in unearthly beauty is possible, which is not only metaphorical, but is also itself a Sign: “a network of signs” that is tied to the photographer’s vision-apparition. The images that we are viewing are hence by no means metaphors, but “real” forms, although turned around and “transferred” since they only serve pure Desire. These visual forms, this network of signs, is the symbol of the absent object, and in the desire for “absence”, an inner vision is generated from the lack. Where there is actually no loss, nor absence of the subject, but only delight, fascination in consuming the images. And therefore the image as intoxication, as oblivion, and the extreme “lust of the gaze”: the triumph of light, the gardens of paradise. On the verge of sleep, in the hedge of the “other” world, realistic apparition. Meaning, the flash-into-nothing, into the abyss of the photographic image and our everyday lives, into the void, which is in fact the fullness of the /still/ undiscovered world. Where there is miraculous beauty, full of surprises linked to unconscious desire, you could say the “pre-ontological” desire that is neither being or non-being; like that which has never been made flesh, even though it is always here, present. The threshold of unconscious Desire is the threshold of pleasure, which now pulsates through the hands and the eyes, into countless mazes of momentary pictions. This world is therefore not a world of reality, but light, purity, freedom, and an oasis of happiness. And the world of Remembering. But not in the Platonic sense like the return to the original forms, like the eidos of beauty and goodness, but like remembering as stordimento: intoxication and loss of hearing /simultaneously/; where the artist – photographer is “within”, in unimagined Pleasure, without suffering.
There is something whose absence can always be observed in a picture – which is not the case in perception. This is the central field, where the separating power of the eye is exercised to the maximum in vision. In every picture, this central field cannot be but absent, and replaced by a hole – a reflection, in short, of the pupil behind which is situated the gaze. Consequently, and in as much as the picture enters into a relation to desire, the place of a central screen is always marked, which is precisely that by which, in front of the picture, I am elided as subject of the geometral plane. /Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis/
In this sense we now understand Nataša’s images as the original points for the Gaze, and not as “realistic” shots. The construction of the gaze is turned, the photograph speaks from itself, from within /its/ depiction, and certainly not from the surface like objecthood. The move of the hand, that of the photographer, actually helps to create the message, whether it be pure visual form or a seemingly blurred “monster”. In it, time is stopped, numbed into eternity, into a moment that almost does not exist, but nevertheless now, in this time “boundary”, determines some /sort of/ event, which is actually hardly noticeable. This minimal time, trapped in the (photographic) image, is close to death; time Zero is death. Barthes would speak, in La Chambre Claire, about the “micro-experience” of death. With this in mind, let us remember the photographs of the Japanese emperor and his wife, who were sentenced to death. Barthes wrote the following beneath the images: They know that they will die although this is not discernible. On this image we now recognise, realize: we behold things in their current, momentary death. Photography is an activity that reveals the essential features of the depicted persons as well as their relationships and the fragile boundary between transience and survival. The painted photograph is a moment that combines the vision of the artist in an almost metaphysical manner with the selected images in the photographic painting.
The gaze “by which I am surprised in so far as it changes all the perspectives, the lines of force, of my world, orders it from the point of nothingness where I am, in a sort of radiated reticulation of the organisms. As the locus of the relation between me, the annihilating subject, and that which surrounds me, the gaze seems to possess such a privilege that it goes so far as to have me scotomised, I who look, the eye of him who sees me as object. Is it not clear that the gaze intervenes here only in as much as this annihilating subject correlative of the world of objectivity, who feels himself surprised, but the subject sustaining himself in a function of desire? ... We can apprehend this privilege of the gaze in the function of desire, by pouring ourselves, as it were, along the veins through which the domain of vision has been integrated into the field of desire.” / Lacan, Ibid./
But let us return for a moment to Barthes in the Camera Lucida ... In order to designate reality, Buddhism says sunya, “emptiness which is fullness and fullness which is all emptiness”, but better still tathata, which means the fact of “being this, of being thus, of being so” and as the photograph shows ... This, exactly this, precisely that and no different ... nothing that would and could <also> be other. By nature, the photograph has something tautological about it. It is always the “same”. We could say that the photograph always carries its referent witin itself … This makes the photograph something than cannot be replaced by anything other, meaning that there is nothing to “oppose” it, nothing to “juxtapose” it with… Momentariness = autoscopy, self-exploration as the zero moment that does not pass … The moment and autoscopy for the random viewer who is left speechless by the image that is defined by the notion of studium, which does not represent a complicated system introduced by the photographer, but a state, a special state, which can be termed “cultural”, yet without any peculiarities, without any of what Barthes has in mind when he talks about the punctum, the salient point that crosses the photographed image ... What is significant with studium are the expressions, gestures and details, “script” and acts ... What is important is the sens(e)ation, the sensitive points and the special place, the spacing, devenir espace: the becoming of space, which hits and intoxicates me … making me gaze and turn within … Also important in Nataša’s images are the animulae, the condensed physical-spiritual “marks”, “patches”, “condensations”, which appear on the surface and into the depth … or outline the figure (tree, stairs, bridge in the bay) like Man Ray’s phantasmagoric, contrasting “rayographs” … All this to the relation of Operator – Spectator, artist (and) as observer, observer as active operator …
Nataša’s “notations of the boundary between light and dark, produced with a slight turn of the camera, are a pure Platonic image, a metaphor for looking-into-source, without story, pathos, overwhelming emotion. In this sense we must /also/ accept the expression animula by Roland Barthes: as a lit shadow that surrounds the visual body, in which precisely the transitions of the light and “spiritual” shadows are important in the ungraspable light of “disintegration”, in the blaze of the shapeless “mask” of Desire that pushes to the surface of the picture. The space of light and its game are therefore essential for the /photographic/ painting as immanent radiation of elusive forms, external-internal luminescence, mirroring as a “foundation” and “background” of each /de/piction. The victory of the gaze over the eye: it is through the gaze that I enter into the light and it is from the gaze that I receive its “effect”. The gaze is therefore the instrument through which illumination – light is embodied, through which I am /with Lacan/ photographed. Hence the shot evades the twisted understanding of the image as delusion, explanation of a /photographic/ picure as an “ideological” screen. The relation of delusion (of forced meaning) is, according to Lacan, the relation of the gaze to that which we want – desire – to see in the picture. And that which the shot shows us, that which the shot allows into our gaze, is not that which we really wish to see in it. The picture is not only an imaginary trap for the one looking, but more than anything for the author, for the “photographic” painter. If he wants to therefore, he chooses and isolates the screen as delusion in order to play with it.
Light: The boundary of living and nothingness, where phantasmagoric images are born – a kind of monstrum (etymologically from the verb mostrare = <de>monstrate) that takes the whole reality and history of its possible and impossible depictions onto itself. However, the term monstrum is not really an apparition, “beast”, nor a “monster”, a monstrous metaphor, but rather a Sign, semeion mega denoting, showing, presenting the photographer’s figural organism. Semeion to: also a sign, a fatal sign, a stamp, enclosure, trace; what emerges, what occurs; assimilation, density, purity, simplicity and similarity /simulacrum/. In this sense, we understand the term semeion mega /also/ as a trace-stamp, where the dispersed signs – fragments of visual elements – quiver numbly, pulsate and fluctuate in the spot as abstracted reflections of truths that can not be uttered. There are no moral teachings and anthropomorphic experiences in these figures therefore, nor illusions about the time which we now live. The past and the present, the present and the future are blurred in the artistic principle of creative play. The game and the “eternal return” of the images are the inner secret: the enigma of how things and artworks live. Because, precisely the game as Sinnlose ewig beyond real history begins to allow unwavering creativity as joy, the pleasure of form and beauty. What can not be summarized by the “simplicity of a present” (as Jacques Derrida calls it in Of Grammatology), can be termed Trace. Time is not modified in the trace, even though the very concept of the “trace” is tied to the past, even though it in no way deserves such a description. Its passivity is also a relation to that which will come. Present within it already is /also/ the future. The job of Segulin’s /photographic/ painting is according to Derrida “a careful placing of parenthesis”: of reality, consciousness and excess expressive surface, in order for the clean and primary trace to appear, an imprint on the almost translucent emulsion of the canvas. The trace – Spur – opens up the enigmatic bond between the living and its Other, meaning also the space of unconscious Desire and its espacement, spatialisation, says Derrida: “The inside-outside and presence-absence of the trace which one should not even call its ambiguity but play.”