The Play of The World
Jean Fisher, 1998
"Between gravitas and absurdity." Photograph by Stephen White
(Page 5 of 5)
If Calvino's observation may be extrapolated to include visual languages, then Orozco's work would seem to oscillate between both tendencies, encapsulated in Oval Billiard Table's play between gravity and weightlessness, gravitas and absurdity, inertia and mobility. It is also the paradox of music, which articulates the concrete with the insubstantial, horizontal melody with vertical harmony (the diachronic and the synchronic), rational order with non-rational emotional affectiveness.
The movement of the work is, perhaps, towards a musical weightlessness, or what I imagine as 'breath'. I say this for the too obvious reason that air is a form of matter that is enfolded in several of the artist's works: as a rhythmic susurration in the swinging pendulum-ball; as 'inspiration' in Naturaleza recuperada; as 'expiration' in Pelota ponchada and Aliento sobre piano, 1993.
Aliento sobre piano is, for me, the most enigmatic: no more than a patch of condensed breath held forever, through the blink of the camera's eye, on the glossy surface of a grand piano. I suppose what fascinates me about this particular work is that the expired breath is captured indefinitely in that instant before it is necessary to take another gasp for life. Why should this image of apnrea, of suspension of breath, be so compelling as to take my breath away? Perhaps because it expresses what Catherine Clément has characterised as a moment of 'syncope'. Clément draws on Rousseau's definition of syncope as "prolongation on the strong [beat] of a sound begun on the weak [beat]; wherefore, every syncopated note is in counter time, and every collection of syncopated notes is a movement in counter time.". Described as a 'cut' of time, syncope might also, according to the 'logic' advanced here, be called an enfolding of the first beat by the following, creating a discord, a delay, a suspension of time, of breath, that anticipates the move to a new harmony. What is significant about syncope therefore is its regenerative potential: an interval, an inflection, a momentary eclipse of reason from which a potentially expanded perception subsequently unfolds. In Orozco's work we encounter it in a suspension of breath on a piano, a fold in La DS, the oblique move of the knight 'running endlessly', and a blow to a pendulum-ball that changes the amplitude of its swing to produce a play of the interval itself.
In 1993 Orozco collaborated with the composer Manuel Rocha on a sound-work, Ligne d'abandon. The piece is a series of tones of varying duration that derive from the digital manipulation, extended or contracted, of the sound of a car's screeching wheels. As a natural referent the sound itself is syncope: the scream of tyres that precedes an interminable moment of silence before the sound of impact. The emotional experience is one of an overwhelming sense of dread, followed by an interval when I hold my breath in anxious anticipation. All seems to happen in 'slow motion', as if time stood still, which, in a sense, it does. Ligne d'abandon plays on anticipation; the varying duration of sounds are syncopated with varying intervals of silence, the two paths producing a measurable progression or a dissonance as they move in and out of phase with each other.
Syncope and fold: both produce intervals of sorts, inflections in space and suspensions of conventional, measured time, by which the world holds its breath before shifting orbit. Erotic and exorbitant, the rhythmic swing of the pendulum-ball measures the interval of desire itself; and, as we suspect, the anticipation that is desire oscillates for eternity. It is the essential creative moment. Afterwards, the world is never quite the same.
"In a same chaotic world divergent series are endlessly tracing bifurcating paths... Even God desists from being a Being who compares worlds and chooses the richest compossible. He becomes Process, a process that affirms incompossibilities and passes through them. The play of the world has changed in a unique way, because now it has become the play that diverges."
Gilles Deleuze, op cit, and Deidre M. Mahoney, Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1994)