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Sequences to plot sense

Octavio Zaya. 1995

In the fields with which we are concerned, knowledge comes only in flashes.
The text is the thunder rolling long afterward.
Walter Benjamin


1… radically, Txuspo Poyo’s celluloid strips weave a skeptical passion for the impossible: the impossibility of narrative, the impossibility of arriving at any resolution, the impossibility of communication. The “fabric” emerging out of the strips attempts to came to terms with the complexities of the present without resorting to idealized images from the past or future. These pieces are, in a sense, post-utopian; assuming, on the one hand, that our problem is that our goals and objectives evaporated before they had been achieved, before they had become reality. On the other hand, they are completely aware of the fact that each one of us, while different from each other in interests, wealth, power, culture, is nevertheless “contained in a world where, tumbled as[we]are into the endless connection, it is increasingly difficult to get out of each other’s way” (1).

2… simultaneously high-tech and handcrafted, spectacular and familiar,Txuspo’s pieces evoke the sensibitity of Piet Mondrian and Ad Reinhardt as much of the Mirian Shapiro, one male and other female. Still, these make reference to Modernist painting proper by way of the geometric compositions and some extent, their colour. However, these patterns never really assume the authority of Mondrian’s or Barnett Newman’s canvases; their geometry is delicate and intrincate, not bold. What Txuspo does is to establish a syncopated field of overlapping and underlapping vertical and horizontal strips which disable information, as if he would suppress a letter from a word, as if we might momentarily lose the flow of, say, a radio frequency…

3… Txuspo’s work doesn’t have any beginning or ending. Such concepts imply linearity. But if we assume that the “fabric” Txuspo created possesses mutiple sequences rather than having an entire absence of linearity and sequence, then the work may have multiple beginnings and endings.
Regarding the origins and openings, one can suggest that Txuspo’s “fabric” offers at least two different kinds of beginnings. The first concerns individual lexia, the second, a gathering of these into a kind of metatext. Because the work exists as a system within a frame (a plastic covering), however transiently, the viewer considers the work at some point, starting at one or another frame in one or another sequence, and this moment, this frame, this sequence, is the beginning. Writing of print, Edwuard W. Said explains that “a work’s beginning is, practically speaking, the main entrance to what it offers” (2). But, what happens when a work offers many “main” entrances, as does Txuspo’s?. Said provides resources for an answer when he argues that a “beginning” is designated in orden to indicate, clarify, or define a later time, place, or action.
In other words, the designation of a beginning generally also involves the designation of a consequent intention. A link, a patch from the “fabric”, or a frame, may then assume either the role of the beginning of a chain or the point of departure. “The beginning, then, is the first step of the intentional production of meaning”. But Txuspo´s ”fabric” makes the determination of the beginnings difficult, because it changes our conception of the ”fabric” and permits viewers to”beging”at any number of differents points, thus similarly changing the sense of ending. And it not only allows different ending points but also continues to add to the “fabric”, to extend it, to make of it more that it was when we began. There is never one last strip. As Txuspo himself recognizes, “the pieces have two visions; one is conceived of as unity, but because of its abyss surface -since it lacks any perspective- one feels compelled to search for one’s own logic in the piece. One searches for one’s own logic” (3).

2… Txuspo’s pieces are not paintings, though they have a pictorial quality. Yet as pictures they are exceptionally mute-scenes and images literally taken from the mass media, movies, photographs, etc… which don’t appear to make up a complete story. Like the: “fabric”, the artist too is stitched together in bits and pieces, a forever fragmented subject. Constructed as they are by means of splicing and editing found images, the pieces never come across as self-sufficient. Quite the opposite, they appear at once innocent and impure, noble and illegitimate… “The work exists as fragmentary”, Txuspo asserts “a frame, a fragment of the pieces, always has the same intensity as the whole”. There is thus no documentary, processual or self-referential narrative. There is only a narrative of instants, as in a set of photo-booth pictures. It is this time; the time between one instant and another…

1… a fragmented, elliptical, repetitive, yet infinite, or at least indefinite, “fabric” of images and colors, no part of which, however, may be separed from the whole “fabric”, with its transparent holes and endless-edges. A strip, a sequence, a frame, may be seen as transitional; as if it was inserted into a major narrative sequence, creating in the sensory imagination a vertiginous kaleidoscope of adstractions. But this diversion, which would be nothing in a work comprised only of such notations, is not gratuitous here, because here, that “documentary” sequence, besides being subordinated to or transpiring through a “fictional” ground, registers a subjectivity in the behavior and expression of these notations. “The work moves from the individual to the collective sense”, Txuspo explains. “It is reminiscent of the way we get information, make it private and then turn it back to the public. The title refers to what is happening in the piece…”

4… I am Interested in the celluoid as transparency, as something transient. This interest began in 1989, after a trip to London. I brought back some rolls of films that I found in the garbage. I then had a show at the Casa de la Cultura de Basauri and prepared a three by two meter curtain which I had previously put together for an Art Encounter organized in Mondaragón. The piece was hung away from the wall, so as to emphasize the transparent condition of the celluloid. Later I got back to that idea of transparency as transition, as a feeling of something passing. The celluloid offers information which is rather abstract, because this information is in motion. It is like an absence, or a presence passing away… “A presence that passes away because Txuspo’s work is exemplary of the crisis of the action-image. What is happening in the image is beyond the image itself, beyond movement: it is what Deleuze would call the mental image, a mutation of cimema…” (4).

2… Txuspo: I need so bad Godard…

1… Godard: “as I say, while we wait to discover what “i’s” and what dots, like an aircraft waiting to take off, better at the moment, rather that answer and questions, rivers of feeling promptly losing themselves in the sea of thoughts or vice versa, better to dissolve, dissolve, dissolve till one is out of breath as Francois sometimes does, and he alone, because no one else knows how, or else its fashion, yes, better to drift into the digressions so as to sew up again, with films as needles, the scattered pieces of our great white canvas, the one we patch each year, today, this morning, as work begins, so we finally end by not knowing it is virgin, still virgin, like negative stock whether it be called Dupont, Ilford or Kodak, still in one piece too, and which one only has to blow on vigorously to stretch, that is to say to set those who have lost their way sailing in the right direction, whatever the name of the prompter may be, Skolimowski, Hitchcock, Langlois. Yes, dissolve, magnetic montage of ideas, without points of suspension, this is neither a thriller nor Céline, lets leave him to literature, he well deserves it, suffering and piling book upon book amid the regiments of language, we with the cinema, are something else, life first of all, which isn’t new, but difficult to speak of, one can barely live and die, but speak of it, well there are books, but in the cinema, we have no books, we have only music and painting, and even those, as you know, can be lived, but we can rarely speak of them…” (5).

3… this sort of bricolage provides a new kind of unity, one appropiate to the “fabric”. As long as we grant that plot is a phenomenon created by the viewer-author with the materials offered by the lexia, rather than a phenomenon belonging solely to the “fabric”, then we can accept that reading the “fabric” produces an experience very similar to that provided by reading the unified plot described by narratologists from Aristotle to Ricoeur. Ricoeur defines plot “on the most formal level, as an integrating dynamism that draws a unified and complete story from a variety of incidents, in other words, that transforms this variety into a unified and complete story. This formal definition opens a field of rule-governed transformations worthy of being called plots so long as we can discern temporal wholes, bringing about a synthesis of the heterogeneous between circumstances, goals, means, interactions, and intended or unintended results”6. According to Ricoeur, the metaphorical imagination produces narrative by a process of what he terms “predicative assimilation”, which captures and integrates into one whole and complete story, multiple and scattered events, thereby schematizing the intelligible signification attached to the narrative taken as a whole”.7 As viewers, we find ourselves forced to manufacture a whole; to integrate multiple and scattered events, separate parts, into a whole complete story…

4… the consequences of this are evident for Txuspo when he mixes celluloid strips to establish differential relations with the visual elements. Interstices thus proliferate everywhere; in the visual image, in the celluloid strip, in the sewn photographs, in the interwoven strips. This is not to say that the discontinuous prevails over the continuous. On the contrary, the cuts and breaks in cinema have always forged the power of the continuous. But here, these cuts and breaks have became the interstices, without an end or beginning. The interaction of two images engender or traces a frontier which belongs to neither one nor the other…

2… links, fabrics, chains, interweavings, crossings, plots… the net that each piece plots amounts to a short circuit of time into space, emptiness into saturation, the bodily into technology… the obsessive reiteration of fragmented memories… Even his most recent work (Go ahead and 3 Feet 4 Death) continuouly replays its own fragmentation, alienation, and desterritorialization, emptying out all present and former referential meanings, and fracturing the coherence of the discourse-images that contain them… This suspension elicits an entirely different set of meaningful formations… which brings together the before and the after in a becoming which crosses them and displaces them infinitely… Narrative is constantly being completely modified, in each of its episodes, not according to subjective variations, but as a consequence of disconnected places and dechronologized moments…

4… “the pieces are like safes of meaning” (Txuspo Poyo). The problem, as with Raymond Roussel books, is to get the right combination in order to open the safe. Meanwhile, as Txuspo asserts, “It doesn t have a head or tail. It lacks something, but we don’t know what it is”. This is precisely the subject of Txuspo work; that fundamental lack for which he attempts to compensate with saturation and excess of images. Its importance emerges precisely from the interstices of its own signifyng impossibility; between the flashes of its own ruin…

1. Cliffor Geertz, Work and Lives:The Anthropologist as Author (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), p. 147.
2. E. W. Said, Beginnings: Intentions and Method (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), p. 3.
3. From a conversation with the artist. Unpublished, february New York 1995.
4. Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2, The Time-Image (Minneapolis: University of Minensota Press, 1989).
5. Jean Luc Godard, Godard on Godard (New York: Da Capo Press, 1986). p. 213.
6. Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), Vol. 2, p. 8.
7. Ibidem, Volumens 1, p. X.