“Notation” in Berlin

“Acaso hay algun escrito que funde el mundo y no sea el libro?”
Umberto Eco, El pendulo de Focault

Last weekend at the ADK (Akademie der K√ľnste) Berlin, the exhibition “notation: Calculus and Form in the Arts” closed its doors after a couple of months. The show took you through a “short” tough very intense travel over a wide spectrum of work processes by not-so-unknown people from the last century. Scores interpreted visually by Boris Bilinski opened the first room and from there you bounced from wonderful photographic documentation of Marey’s experiments, to Leger’s “Ballet Mecanique” and Hand drawings by Walter Benjamin. The connections from scientifical correctness and methodical consideration to artistic creation turned into a thin, almost invisible smoke string like those from Marey’s photo series.

smoke curtains

smoke curtains

Very much on the ZKM style, the compilation includes all kinds of media, including video, sound, installation and sculpture, but charmingly, everything was turning around paper pieces, old notebooks and some graphite. This makes emphasis on the very basics of human creativeness and plays with the power of signs to re-code reality and materialize the transition from concept to structure, from structure to existence. As in Eco’s book, playing with the sacred letters arises your own creature and renders it real, sometimes even more “true” than yourself.

One of the more notorious achievements of the exhibit in my spectator mind, was the sense of proximity and understanding with works that weren’t even there. In many cases, the traces of labour resulted more evocative sometimes than the actual pieces, like in Oskar Fischinger’s animations, where you could stare for hours at the kind of abstract story boards that hanged on the wall, but the videos where presented on a small screen at floor’s level, perhaps with the intention of reducing their relevance, and also making them hard to watch. I wondered if that was bad, but I didn’t care much since my mind was eager for more drawings and notes.

A flaw could be the excessive ammount of museistic strategies like glass, panels, frames with Paspartue and white, but in essence, the materiality of the documents has to be protected, so that’s not really a point of critique. More important is, that the mere content of all this rediscovered “pieces of art”, goes way beyond contemplation and offer an attractive source of information to go back to. Would be a hard job to get hands on a Digital archive of the exhibition, but I wouldn’t be amazed if ZKM has already some well fed database…The work would be then, to craft some tools to access it, but well, then they come, the rights issues, owner’s permissions -since most of this paper sketches are possesed art objects-, profitability, and then you forget about the idea. In this sense I’ll simply point out how this blogging practice resembles, for some, a way of notation, where page after page we find incomplete thoughts, sketches and online planning / process exhibition practices. We might go thinking that a curatorial proposal around blog-sketchbooks is interesting. Any hints?

Some personal highlights of the exhibition were, Etienne Jules Marey and his locomotion studies a la Muybridge but a bit more “detailed” -also Hollis Frampton did something like that-, the work of Anthony McCall and the notes and plans for the Lecorbusier-Xenakkis Phillips pavillion in brussels, 1958.