Second Water

(voice~over for a video in the exhibition Second Water at 427, Riga)

 

Rhythm is a scale of proportions which makes the bad difficult and the good easy

– A. Einstein in a letter to Le Corbusier.

‘The sea affects people so because it is very big’ – the child. According to phenomenological experience of space, direct encounter with immense size, spatially decomposes one‘s consciousness. Perceiving oneself as the size and the sea as a boundless volume, shifts the inner scale. The distances between things and experiences change. Or perhaps it’s just a more sophisticated way to say, that ‘big water affects us’?

Ports are full of ships. The ship is the most romantic, ambitious and natural invention of humankind. The ship and the theory of relativity, and yet foremost – the ship, since it’s a metaphor sailing in the sea.

The Theory of Metaphor

In a literal language we indicate things with their real names, connecting them with corresponding functions. A metaphor is a figure of speech, when the qualities of one thing are attached to another.  Metaphors often have several meanings. It might seem that mankind could do with just a literal – telegraphic – language, but it’s precisely the employment of metaphors, that has radically influenced the development of the whole culture – some of the best ideas of man where transmittable only by means of metaphor. That is how cities, skyscrapers, gunpowder, telephone, the Anti-Semitic conspiracy theory and so on emerged.

The ship is a metaphor and this concept can be traced back to metaphor’s etymological origin – from the Greek word μεταφέρω (metafero) which means ‘to bring, to carry, to transfer’. The usage of metaphor in language allows to transfer the message not directly, but through a composed image that carries the message. Thus, a metaphor is a vehicle.

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All the captains from the harbor, generations since the founding of the city seaport, gathered in the picture album. In uniforms and moustache they were real and at the same time comical. Sea captain Ludwig Stulpin was one of the youngest; he lived in the beginning of the 20th century. In the picture he doesn’t wear a captain’s hat, his hair is in a butch cut, brawny arms, back and chest present a feature of vandal masculinity, that cannot be disguised even by his thick woolen jacket. A school in the city school was named after him; the school that also had some vandal features. Formerly the 28th or ‘tweighth’, one day it was officially renamed and everybody went to visit his grave to the cemetery on the seashore. It was November, cold wind and wet snow was falling from the sky and the next day half of the children got sick and hadn’t come to school. Ludwig Stulpin.

There was another captain in the photo album with a Ukrainian surname. In a picture, made some fifty years ago, the eyes of the captain distinctly reflected the thing he had been watching for so long – the Sea.

If we looked at beautiful things more, our eyes would turn more beautiful too.

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Metaphor is a problem of aesthetics. ‘A metaphor is the dream work of language’ wrote Donald Davidson. ‘The interpretation of dreams requires collaboration between a dreamer and a waker, even if they be the same person; and the act of interpretation is itself a work of imagination. So too understanding a metaphor is as much a creative endeavor as making a metaphor, and as little guided by rules.’ Jоsе Ortega y Gasset said that metaphor is a most efficient way to capture and hold the highly-abstract.

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It was summer, it rained in Kiev. The three of them were sitting at a café. Young woman was telling something intensively to her friends – a girl and a guy who met the two in a new town. The girl was tired and was not really listening. She stretched her hand out under the rain; the water was drumming on her fingers – on the middle one, on the ring, on the little one, on the middle, on the ring, on a thumb. Yesterday during the wedding she attended a groom was reading a poem to the bride. She couldn’t recollect the words, but the feeling of the poem was similar to the instance – to the hand under the rain. The guy couldn’t take his eyes off. Something overwhelmed him, as if he himself had read the poem. One cloud was hanging above the city and raining, another cloud sat in a café in a deep blue sweater.  Afterwards, the taxi had to struggle to turn his engine on, but when finally it turned over, they had to sail off to the airport trough the flooded streets. Give way to the captain Cloud!

 

Today one can already grow eyes in the laboratory by recreating the tissue of human cells. Can one program the eyes that would reflect the sea, or for example, the tomatoes? A lady oracle was telling that if we watered plants with water that we had washed ourselves with, the plants, for example the tomatoe, would bear the fruits for us. From the water the plant would read the data about our organism and during the growth it would create the vitamins and micro elements the body lacks. This is called the second water, the one you wash yourself with and give it to someone.

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I don’t know why the ship is aesthetical and not political. As if we’re playing – with forms, colors, composition, rhythm, metaphor; various theories, philosophies, language, science, economy. It’s been a while, I keep on saying, that art needs to differentiate, not necessarily in the world of art, but in the norms of ethics. The world is accelerating sharp, political, social activism. Yet next to that the forms and aesthetics, abstraction and fantasy must exist. Just be professional. One is either completely naïve or complete professional.

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There is a cherry in the metaphor – again Donald Davidson. Metaphors emerge because of the classification errors – voluntarily or not while placing an object or a thing into another class of objects or things, the cognitive apparatus has to make a jump. Господи, ето же не человек, а – дурная погода. (God, that's not a man, that's dull weather!) - M. Gorky. A successful metaphor evokes an image which we otherwise haven’t seen before. It helps to realize something, which in this manner we perceive for the first time – not recalling, but composing a new image. A metaphor is a mutual act of creation.

The rain stopped, now it’s snowing in the exhibition – the plaster is crumbling off the ceiling. The same composition just in another rhythm. Rhythm is a scale of proportions which makes the bad difficult and the good easy.

2014