The Play of The World
Jean Fisher, 1998
Gabriel Orozco, La DS, 1993
(Page 4 of 5)
But if one imagines that space-time is not an empty exteriority waiting to be carved up and filled with bodies but internalised in matter, then the 'cut' may be seen, in fact, to be a fold.
Do we, for instance, insist that, on being struck, Orozco's pendulum-ball effects a 'cut' in space, or can we speculate rather that it provokes a change in amplitude of a wave that ultimately folds to infinity? Envisioning Orozco's work in this way, we begin to see folds everywhere and in many guises. We have already mentioned, for instance, how Piedra que cede is folded into the layers of dust and debris of the street. We might also think of the cut and suture of Naturaleza recuperada (1990) and La DS as a process of refolding and internalising space in alternative configurations; or the parabolic curve formed by the hammock slung between two trees in the sculpture garden of MoMA, New York, 1993, as a visible fold emerging from within two invisible folds —a 'line' in nature, after all, delimits the perceptual horizon, not the object or its relations. And among the photo-works, there are folds that range from the simple envelopment of banana leaves in a sleeping bag (Hojas durmiendo, 1990), to the sleeping dog folded into itself in sleep's simulation of death (Perro durmiendo, 1990), to the invisible fold in space-time that displaces potatoes to exercise books on supermarket shelves (Cinco problemas, 1992).
To imagine the fold to infinity, the fold within the fold, is also to imagine the world as a continuity, in which discontinuity —the apparent separation of things 'in' space and time— is merely an index of the failure of our perceptual tools to distinguish the subtle movements and connections of matter and mind. Indeed, a change in perceptual awareness is like the unravelling of folds, a differentiation that alters the habitual relations of things. Along with Borges, we may speculate that everyday appearance has no greater claim to 'reality' than dreams or hallucinations.
Orozco's work presents a reality that puts reality into doubt; or as Baudrillard says of the trompe l'oeil (to whose choice of banal objects, hallucinatory 'realism' and tendency to weightlessness certain of Orozco's photo-works bear a passing resemblance), it reveals that "'reality' is never more than a world hierarchically staged (mise-en-scène)..."
For Deleuze, the fold to infinity that implicates matter and soul, the dialogue between gravity and weightlessness, are characteristic of a (neo)Baroque sensibility that is transhistorical and transcultural. Born of the collapse of a symbolic order of the world thought to be stable, its exorbitant and continuous displacement of reality is a reflection of something felt to be a conceptual vacuum and spiritual rootlessness. Such might be a description not only of the historical wounds of the Americas but also of a contemporary global state of being, in all of which Orozco is also implicated. In more ways than one, the artist's work inflects what is universal in the local.
In entering into dialogue with the concept of the 'game', the work reflects on the condition of art itself —a rather typical Baroque trope. The game is an event which, like art, combines geometric order with chance elements, ephemerality with the interminable, identity with difference (for instance, insofar as every soccer game is both identical to and different from every other, its duration is as limited as it is infinitely extendable in repetition). Both art and the game possess a material existence that articulates, but is not coincidental, with 'real life' . Each obeys its own ritualised rules which constitute its internal limit —until, of course, another sequence of events converges on the limit and effects a change in direction or amplitude (and, of course, an internal disposition to be so affected is built into the system). Despite the fact that it moves in the so-called real world, Orozco's work does not re-present an indexical reality, nor does it stage the probable —what can be extrapolated from existing relations in reality—, but rather unfolds a play of the possible and the impossible —what can be imagined beyond immediate perceptual relations.
"We might say that throughout the centuries two opposite tendencies have competed in literature: one tries to make language into a weightless element that hovers above things like a cloud or better, perhaps, the finest dust or, better still, a field of magnetic impulses. The other tries to give language the weight, density, and concreteness of things, bodies and sensations."
Italo Calvino (Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Trans. Patrick Creagh, London: Jonathan Cape, 1992)
 Jean Baudrillard ("The Trompe-l'Oeil" in Calligram: Essays in new Art History from France, Norman Bryson (ed), Cambridge: Cambridge Universty Press, 1988) ↩
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This essay is taken from the Artangel publication for Empty Club available from Cornerhouse.org