2008. november 21., péntek

THE DRAWN TIME

A lerajzolt idő / The Drawn Time. It was just published by Tiara Press. The presentation of the book will be held on Saturday, 22 November at 5 p.m. in the Tiara Club (Budapest, Angol utca 44)

I paste the preface:

Time Sights

If you section, random, anywhere,
There will always be a moment,
When in a still image on the record of time,
An arrow advances toward a heart.


You will certainly remember Zeno of Elea,
who invented the proof that the image formed
by emotions in clever situations is deceptive.
I have tried to evoke one of Zeno’s parables
in this old fragment of poetry. His famous
paradox of the motionless arrow is perhaps an
appropriate point of departure to speak of the
relationship between my work and time. The
arrow paradox, of course, is only the second
most famous – after the renowned race between
Achilles and the tortoise, at the end of which
the swift-footed hero slinks off , defeated, the
symbolic arrow of shame in his heart, while
there is a more real arrow in his heel – but this
is already another story, if you will, the blood
and fl esh arrow of another dimension.
But now we have to imagine only a single
fl ying arrow, and for now it is not its target
that is important. At any point in time the
arrow remains at a given point in the air. This
moment has no temporal range; consequently,
the arrow is at rest. With similar reasoning, it
is foreseeable that in the moments to follow it
is also motionless. Since this can be proved for
any moment of time, according to Zeno, the
arrow does not move at all: its fl ight is merely
illusion. As a practising animation fi lmmaker, I
am confronted with such things on a daily basis.
If I were to animate an arrow that was shot, I
would have to draw on a sheet one at rest, and
then on another one another arrow, just the
same as the previous one, but still not exactly
the same. In principle then, we could draw as
many as we would like, so that we could reduce
them until the movement between them would
be infi nitely small.
Zeno, and the primeval animation fi lmmaker
break down time into the mere now,
similar to some extent to the way we should
interpret space in the allegory of the tortoise as
the mere here. This certain now and here comes
into being with the infi nite division of the
range of time and space, sliced all the way until
they cease being a continuum. In other words,
Zeno reduced the continuity of time – and
together with this, that of space as well – to
the sum of countless slices of time and space.
Insomuch, however, as discontinuity in this case
means “timelessness”, and “spacelessness”, in
following him, we would be compelled to deny
the existence not only of motion, but at the
same time, of time and space. Before we settle
the matter with a simple wave of the hand, let
us recall that independent of Zeno, one of the
past masters of Zen in China, Hui-shi, also arrived
at a very similar conclusion, moreover in
connection with a launched arrow. And simply
as an encore, I will mention that according too
German philosopher Eugen Herrigel, it is the
Zen Buddhist exercises of archery that lead
most closely to an understanding of existence.
Sometimes I believe that the paradoxes
judged to be unacceptable by the rational mind
are perhaps suited after all to allow us with
their aid to surmise more from the world than
we could comprehend through traditional
logic. We receive sceptically seemingly obvious
assertions, and we believe in them that there is
another, hidden reading of the world, which
though we experience more circuitously, sometimes
the search itself already promises more
excitement. Can the trajectory of the arrow be
checked; is time reversible; can something be
redeemed, which we feel to be irredeemable?
I was born in 1951, a strikingly undistinguished
year even among insignifi cant years,
whose heroic emptiness I illustrate with the
title of the volume of the emigrant author,
Arthur Koestler: Arrow in the Blue. The book,
which happens to have been written precisely in
1951, naturally was not published in Hungary.
In my infancy, there was a picture that I always
gazed at, long and shuddering. There was an
album among the many books of text and
few of pictures of my parents, and in it was a
picture with an arrow. I seem to recall that my
mother’s name was written on the upper corner
of the title page, although my fi rst memories
in connection with this picture derived most
certainly from the time when I could not yet
read. An old man with a kind face sat in the
forest, protectively reaching toward a deer, that
seemed to fl ee towards him seeking shelter.
Between the trees – I can almost see him now
– another man is also visible, who targets the
fl eeing creature with his arrow. Even up to this
point, the picture gives one the shudders, but
that which however was most seductive, and
due to which I practically ran from the picture,
so that some sort of unspeakable compulsion
drove me back immediately, was to come only
afterwards. The arrow is already in the heart of
the peaceful man stroking the deer, the guileless
– while he waits with forgiving patience, for
the arrow to be shot. The very same arrow that
the evil one has not even yet launched. Since
then, I learned just who was the gentle martyr:
Saint Giles, the Benedictine monk, protector of
the disabled and lepers; but I must confess that
ever since, I have been haunted by the vision
of the arrow that was not yet launched and yet
infl icted a mortal wound. I have perhaps even
dreamed of it. Or perhaps I just would have
wished that a dream were to reverse the order
of events, that which we deem natural? Since
the dream is capable of this – moreover, perhaps
this is precisely how it works: inverting time.
Time progresses from the future toward the
past, or if you like, the clock revolves in them
from right to left. Who has not woken with
a start from a dream to a sudden noise, which
blared in the dream as the result of lengthy
events ensuing from one another? What else
could explain this, if not the reversal of the
direction of time, of its symbolic arrow? From
the future in the direction of the past, we proceed
from the consequences toward the causes,
we could actualise “our future is passing” with
the title of Gáspár Nagy’s volume of poetry,
and we might think further to the iconic Father
Florensky, Stalin’s most innocent victim, who
exemplifi ed the path to God precisely with the
theological explanation of inverted time.
In my fi lms, in which there is also real time,
historical questions sometimes arise, and thus
the problematic of historical time appears. I
attempted to reverse the linear fl ow of time in
my fi lm, Ah, America!; I refl ected upon events
of the recent past in my fi lm entitled, Mind
the Step!; and the individual representation
of time in the fi lm, Panoramas of Time was its
own. Disconnectedness of time, and intensive,
emblematic compression are generally symptomatic
of animation fi lm techniques. Events
occur alongside one another, in connection
with each other, somehow condensing time,
as space observed through the viewfi nder of
a strong telephoto lens is also compressed,
and things that are near and far land alongside
each other. When I began my career, I existed
in exactly this strange state of timelessness.
They endeavoured to separate my generation
from the historical past with artifi cially raised
caesurae, while it was not acceptable to doubt
the historical future. Since I was young and
healthy, even the time coordinates that I
experienced personally did not have a great
infl uence on me. During this time, many
emigrated from Hungary. They went to live
in other countries. The question came to my
mind: would it be possible to do just the same
in terms of time? To be transplanted somehow
in other eras? I readily imagined myself within
the course of historical time: Renaissance,
Baroque, Mannerism…
In my youth I had often heard the expression
to “read between the lines”, or to look on
the other side of things. It was clear that the
most important artworks had multiple meanings,
at least two, and it was even more obvious
to me that the more diffi cult it was to discern
a meaning, the more signifi cant that meaning
was. The correlation of the pictures of dual
meaning with time was obvious. They meant
diff erent things depending upon whether you
regarded them from near or far. If one view
presented a portrait, the other was a landscape.
In such cases, the viewer becomes a co-author,
as it is up to her/him to seek the pertinent
viewpoint. While s/he searches for this, s/he
must also experience her/his own temporal and
spatial coordinates. S/he also identifi es her/himself.
And this is not always so simple. Even real
three-dimensional objects can have diff erent
meanings if we look at them from elsewhere.
The majority of my spatial paintings are at the
same time real steps. This spatial form with its
representation of repetition concerns time from
the outset. Its levels are the keys on the keyboard
of time. The columns and colonnades,
which are recurring elements of my pictures,
fi ll exactly the same role, but due to their
repetitive nature, the projection of shadows
and refl ections are also a type of time-formula.
We are familiar with the correlation between
the flow of water and time – you cannot step
twice into the same river – and naturally the
mirror-images of water-inhabitants are also
the preservers of time. And only one step
more is required to reach symmetries from
mirror-images. I use the plural because there are
many types of symmetry, but their common
denominator is that they are all directly related
to time.
When I draw similar architectural impossibilities,
in actual fact I am experimenting with
the visualisation of spatial paradoxes that are
never independent of time. The levels of reality
and imagination building upon each other, their
strange loops intertwining in each other often
produce the illusion of endlessness – or timelessness.
I have made an attempt to graphically
visualise my notions in connection with time
– I confess, mostly unconsciously – in every
one of my works collected under various titles
on the following pages. Leafi ng through them
again and again, and viewing them together,
for me it is only in this way, in the metaphysical
aura of their succession that time has been
rendered self-evident, the determining role of
time made visible. That is also possible, however,
that it is only for lack of something better
that I call this time. Those who are astonished
to fi nd that looking into Heraclitus’s river, it
is not into the face of their own refl ection that
they gaze, will perhaps call this melancholy, or
the enigmatic sorrow of geometry, the majestic
solitude of symmetries, the eternal doubt of
the inhabitants of mirror-images, or they will
perceive the hopeless Platonic relationship of
perspectives with the infi nite.
While I searched for the correlations
between my own works and time, I also had to
face the augustinian dilemma: What is time?
If the question is not asked, I know precisely
what it is, but if I have to express it, I would
be incapable. But I am a visual artist, and so if
I cannot tell it in words, I can try to draw it. I
have made an attempt at this with the chapter
heading image. I wanted to describe graphically
that the barely discernible rhythms of the
human body, the throbbing of the bloodstream
palpable in the pulse, and the movements of
the stellar systems describable in complicated
formulas all conform to the very gauge. Yes,
fi nally I surmise that I could have used another
word instead of “time”, but there are some
names that are traditionally forbidden to speak,
and in writing it is also better to omit them...

Please find more details in the Hungarian Utisz Blog: http://utisz-utisz.blogspot.com/

1 megjegyzés:

utisz írta...

Here is the original version of the motto poem and two more translations. The first one was written by Jennifer Polakis and the second one was made by Adele Eisenstein.

Ha elmetszed találomra, bárhol,
Mindig lesz majd egy olyan pillanat,
Egy állókép az idő lemezén,
ahol egy nyíl egy szív iránt halad.

Randomly intersected
Pure moments perfected
Through frozen frames of times
Onto a heart an arrow flies.

If you section, as far as I can judge, anywhere,
There will always be a moment,
When in a still image on the record of time,
An arrow advances toward a heart.