INӔRS The Body as Corporal Layers

“The body is a device to calculate
The astronomy of the spirit.
Look through that astrolabe
And become oceanic.” (Mevlânâ Celâleddîn-i Rûmî)

“Any universe simple enough to be understood is too simple to produce a mind able to understand it.” (J.D. Barrow)

Every single moment is a pile of abysses that latches straight away onto the universe of another being. Our bodies intersect; we rarely find strange the inconsistencies that our conclusive knowledge of reality and consciousness creates. Assuming that there is a correspondence between reality and representation, we continue living, relying on the prospect of mutual understanding and co-existence as though we can conceive existence by turning a blind eye to the incomparability of the body. Be it material or moral, all skills build themselves from within, for, towards, relating to, and against the body by developing their sensory and communicative capacities: gun and toy, telescope and peephole, the mystical and tool, language and ornament, house and prison, painting and utopia, cloth and belief… The body is that which is root and destination, nature and culture, reality and representation, all at the same time. In a manner of speaking, it is the tension between the act of living, the reality of the body, and the possibility of being understood.

Boundless limits, the resonance between worlds, stability among uncertainties; the one who lives exists there and in this manner. Nothing finds it difficult to comprehend the kinship that life (bios) and art (ars) form with the relationship between their oppositions: death (intobios) and that which is inert (iners). Inertia is defined as resistance against a change of state. Being a tendency to transform things by joining and unifying, art, on the other hand, paves the way for the formation of films, layers and structures in gradually increasing degrees of complexity, these entities displaying an increasing amount of knowledge and sensitivity. Physical inertia (corporis inertiae), that is, the inorganic nature itself provides stability for universal constants, their constituents, and their transformation. However, the emergence of organic life (ars metabolicae), and the consequent arrangement of life as biological inertia (inertiae organicum) by inertia itself triggers its change. And it is when this biological stability has adequate sensory capacity to create its representation that the universe of consciousness and a new kind of transformation that increases uncertainties and complexities emerge: the organism propagates and changes in its own mental sulci and its symbolic layers. And yet this disturbance turns into balance when the organism achieves mental homeostasis, i.e. the power to organize and reorganize itself. This phenomenon occurs among the periodically arising urges, during the recognition of oneness and in the trace left by a phantasm (psyquica inertia). And these forms of balance makes it possible for regular socialization and cultural inertia (the state of sharing a socially balanced kind of craziness) to develop. Subjective authenticity and creativity generate an avant-garde and transgressive discontinuity by allowing an anti-culture art to grow. Hence, when this relativization transforms the indisputable, it is fixed within creative inertia which gives an irrepressible impetus. A prospect of art that can overcome this inert dispersion is bound to involve a balancing element that is able to grade the risks. If creativity allows of making mistakes, then it is art that lets us know which mistakes are worth maintaining.

Genç sanatçı Onur Mansız, ’baba’nın hemen her coğrafyada, farklı şiddetlerde örtbas etmek istediği beden’i işaret ederek çıkmıştır yola. İsabetli, kışkırtıcı, cüretkâr, hatta zekice bir seçimdir bu. Mansız -yine doğru bir seçimle- Trajedi adını verdiği sergisinde bedenle tekinsiz bir ilişkiye geçerek en gen-cinden, müthiş bir sınav vermektedir ve anlaşılan o ki ileriki günlerde de vermeye devam edecektir. Onun yaptığı, dünya tin’leşmeye, ayakları üzerinde dikelmeye başlayalı koca bir ayıp muamelesi gören bedenin ne menem bir şey olmadığını ve nelere kâdir olabileceğini görmek, bedenle birlikte kendi sanatsal olanaklarını, sınırlarını da tanımaktır. Bedene dair kâdim (!) fantezileri anlamaya çalışmak, bedenle olduğu kadar ona dair algılarla da bir nevi kavgaya tutuşmaktır. Mansız, bedene indirdiği her darbede, her müdahalesinde dudaklarını kaygıyla sıkan, gözlerini kısan bir sanatçıdır, belki de diğer bedenlerde kendi bedenini bulduğu için, şimdilik. Bizzatihi darbelerin, bedenin kendi-si kadar tekin olmadıklarının pekâlâ farkındadır. Adların taleplerine saygı gösterir de önce Befo-re’dan başlarsak; Before’da havaya dikilmiş füze benzeri çıkıntılarıyla savaşa hazır dünyanın bir ka-rikatürüne dönüşmüş gürze benzer deniz mayını göğsün tam ortasına düşer.

The body has always and indisputably been art’s most current impulse. All imaginable symbols, measures, metaphors, emotions and ideas have been embodied in it. The body is a mystery among the dilemmas of a social being who is capable of living, feeling and thinking, rather than a self-explanatory, measurable, and entity per se. Iconoclasm and the adoration of icons, cults and taboos share an implicit approval in the power of images. Representation plays a crucial role in the formation of social sensemaking, and the representation of the human body is no less a realm of representation in this sense. This becomes all the more apparent in the representation of the naked human body, ranging from those seen in mythological images created by ancient cultures to techno-scientific images produced by MRI machines, from the depictions of Satan to the photographs of modern day idols, and from pornographic images to religious images… Be it metaphorical, symbolic, expressive or descriptive, the representation of a body that is freed from uniforms and clothes involves the proofs of its own corporeality—such as ethnicity, age, sex, and morphological features like muscles, and veins—beyond rank, social class, and tribal affiliation. In the absence of these identifying characteristics that bring into existence the traditional body, organic features and their objective relationships become all the more manifest. The presence of a naked body triggers in people a sudden chain reaction of emotions and behaviours such as empathy, irritation, sincerity, desire, and rejection. Representation of the body also functions as an essential representation of our relationship with the image. The here-and-nowness of the being brings itself into existence in the anthropomorphic image. The nudity of the body entails a tacit proximity in representation, as is the case with here-and-nowness. “The other” is internalized during the act of depicting a body. With each brush stroke, the contact between bodies is recorded again and again. With each touch on the canvas, the body generates its own here-and-nowness. “Plastic rigor” creates an intense and conductive connection. This warmth contradicts with the scientific illusion of cognitive neutrality and the idea of observation without an observer. Art unveils and develops a different kind of knowledge of the body, which is kinaesthetic and multi-sensory.

As a mechanical record, the photograph lets the preventive distance cool down. Artificial as it may seem, the photograph has an essential feature that makes us forget that it is indeed an artefact. That it provides visual proof blurs its artificial character which is actually open to interpretation. Its artificiality is concealed behind its realistic appearance, documentary character, and its power to serve as evidence. In other words, the photographic image is deemed by many a legitimate and truthful representation of reality itself. The photograph also produces a system of identification based on the position of both the observer and the point of view. The narcotic relationship between the position of the photographer and that of the viewer contributes to the enrichment of the encounter between the search for the correct moment and the desire for eternity. While the distance created by the mechanical record helps prevent risks that a direct encounter may pose, the identification between the photographer and the viewer through the position of the point of view allows of the emergence of a satisfactory affinity. In spite of its mechanical nature, the photograph refers to the body. It is not the application of Euclidean geometry, but a rendering of the authoritative expression of the body. The dichotomy between the distance caused by the technical tool and the proximity brought about by the naked body ensures the development of all possible forms of socialization from the narcissistic reflection of a body upon another through empathy to inspection of indifference, and to ogling or feeling disgusted.

Even when a representation is far from being truthful to reality, and is obviously artificial, the legitimacy of the mechanical record, and the suspension of disbelief do not cease to exist. In the post-photographic age, the difference between the real and the virtual are hard to distinguish. When fiction is presented as reality, reality comes to be seen as fiction. The post-photographic age achieves the naturalist ideal, but it also establishes doubt as an indisputable principle. Hence, this “limitless realism” in a limitless, imaginary cloud, and this perceptual inertia is but a return to the primitive act of name-giving, which happens to be the fifth element of all fantasies about the correspondence between the symbolic and the real, this virtually magical, and archaic system of correspondence preceding language. The continuous suspension of disbelief entails the perpetual suspension of the naive kind of scepticism and doubt.

The possibility of the singularity of the subject becomes all the more important due to this naive kind of scepticism: experimentations with the irreducible tension between subjectivity and the mechanical, production and emotion, presentation and design, body and knowledge, complexity and comprehension, matter and form, adaptation (inertia) and (artistic) creation and with the singularity of the situation… No matter what we choose to call it, it shows the artist’s defiance and hence it deserves our recognition and appreciation.