(early statement, ima project: “matter/of/fact” —— december 14, 2021)
from the new oxford american dictionary: the word “matter” originates from middle english, via old french, from the latin terms materia (“timber,” “substance,” or “subject of discourse”) and mater (“mother”).
prompted by the phrase “matter/of/fact,” our thoughts have traveled in a variety of directions.
what matters? what is a fact? what is the matter?
the matter is the physical. it is the material, the substance. it is the subject, the content, the meaning, the significance, the importance, the issue, the concern, the problem.
we cannot ignore the material costs of our contemporary, extremely virtual existence, of our electrically powered and electronically networked way of life, of artificial intelligence and countless disembodied and displaced processes of resource extraction.
human existence is embodied, but we are culturally and socially conditioned to not recognize or value this fact. our present ways of living enforce profound disconnections within people from their bodies and from material reality. a disquieting contrast (considered normal, even desirable) exists between a fully human experience——based on the facts, sensations, and awareness of having a body and its feelings——and the dominant assumption of an existence solely composed of free-floating rational agency driven by self interest and autonomous will.
this legacy from descartes——of a division, and the attendant creation of hierarchy, between mind and body, between thinking and being——is ruining our collective existence and threatening the survival of our species on our miraculous and disrespected sphere of matter, earth.
every action of a human being has a material cost. we consume material and we expel material. invisibility does not equal nonexistence. objects and events that are not visible——such as air pollution from power plants, mining of minerals for computer parts, greenhouse gases generated from data processing centers——still exist and cost us greatly, both physically and psychologically.
a visual-art practice can be a model of resistance to the dehumanization of our existence, making deliberate and conscious choices of manual activity that emerge and persist in contrast to the immaterial, disembodied, disconnected, and irresponsible state of being that is fed by virtual experiences. what may seem to be a relatively meaningless activity, that of repetitive manual mark-making, presents itself as an ever-more essential practice.
these marks may be thought of as an analogy for making tangible or comprehensible the vast computing and processing of data, of bits, of endless strings of code that require a particular language and training to decipher and comprehend. our visually discernible marks are a material code. with training or a guide, one can read or translate the marks, traces, and gestures as something that a human is expressing. they manifest a material presence of thoughts, ideas, emotions, and sensations. they may be considered a diary or a transcript of invisible forces on our world.
in this collaborative project, the ideas and works of two visual artists are shared and merged within a dialogue that explores some aspects of the concepts and connotations of matter and of facts.
for kirsten, the material facts of physical location, of place, and of technology and its impact on our perception of the world are primary in her thoughts, translated into drawings and paintings of the ravenswood power plant and queensbridge public housing development located near her studio in long island city. in this place, invisible toxic effluvia issues from the natural-gas plant into the lungs of the surrounding community. for deanna, such facts——of the material costs of seemingly immaterial influences——are held in mind as the context for her works, generated from rubbings and tracings that exist as evidence of natural and human-made forces on our environments.
what is the matter?
the matter is the body. it is the mother of all things. it is the mother lode. it is the reality. it is the truth.