ON THE THRESHOLD: ENTERTAINING SPECIFICITY (PART 1 OF 2) // H.R. Buechler

01 Feb 2019 12:00 AM | Susan Viguers (Administrator)

There is a door. The door is of worn wood, maybe oak, with a brass handle tarnished from years of turns and turnings and entries and exits. This door is much like many other doors which line a familiar hallway that so many have passed in, out, down, up, through—generally about. 

Of note is the location of this handle on what is generally understood by the occupants to be an interior. 

It is a doorway. 

Of note is the relation of this handle on this door to handles on other doors facing this interior that has seen nothing but a continual growth of occupants, say luminous beings, of which are found amassing around one particular door. Or another door. 

There, is another door. 

There, is another doorway. A light creeps in from just below the sheet metal mounted upon its base, a metal lined with rubber stripping, which here, seems less tight, perhaps slightly ill-fitting. This light is glimmering, bouncing off another piece of material, call it a composite metal, situated on the floor just beneath the aforementioned strip said to be ill-affixed to the door above. 

Strip parallel to strip, ill-fittings, light seeping—qualities of distinction. This secondary metal, the composite, the retrofit, defines (in some way) a here-ness or there-ness, as light crosses the gap—a threshold—between metals, between above and below, now and again, and this light juts wildly into a void of unknown expansiveness.

There is a light crossing the threshold. 

There are lights seeking to cross the threshold. 

There are lights. Occupants. Beings— 

Particles—scattered into this great unknown, that must be somewhat known for them to find themselves nestling in like lights in the sky waiting for a world to be shaped around them or to shape that world as they accumulate. Yet, part of them remain just on the other side, on the interior, perhaps penetrating more well traversed doorways, fully crossing their thresholds of brass, lead, and gold and resting in their well structured exteriors. 

But still, for whatever reason, there is an increase in activity at this particular threshold, where we are, in the present-past, forever unable to self-actualize in an always unraveling conceptual future. We should think of this activity as an amassment of luminescence waiting to be heated, rather than water at a dam, as these two phenomena are not synonymous; they are qualitatively distinct.   

So, my question is: what is keeping us from fully crossing this threshold? Is it a matter of articulation?

*

It would seem only appropriate to continue to appropriate the use of interiors (their implicit exteriors) and doorways, passageways, openings, and expansiveness, or well-traversed and well-defined, and fracturing or fractured, and light as devices to begin to, well, open the floor on a subject that I find of acute concern: contemporary artists books [versus/and/or?] publications—what they are and perhaps what they are not, and where the blurring between them actually occurs. 

Despite how ill-defined the book may be and consequently equally ill-defined the artists book may be [1], everyone who works with these “objects” (here: this can be as much a physical thing as it can be a conceptual framework) seem to have their own understanding for what it is and how to identify it. And, the writer is no exception. In this foray, exposé, meandering—me/wanderingit may just be better to agree (best we can) that within the realm of artistic activity (or matters of aesthetic production) sometimes we simply do not have the right word (rather, terms). Further, one could suggest that to produce from, within, and outside of the multitude of disciplinary fields that funnel in and out of the artist book honestly may not require any sort of unified concreteness at all. Since, if there is something to be seen as concrete, it will simply be challenged. 

As stated, the writer is no exception to carrying a set of predefined notions. 

The bulk of my current research activities over the past 3 years has been concerned with (the) publication, and not exclusively as a zone of artistic activity, but by its significance in the history of and current employment in communication media. At present, this work is positioned as a matter of classification [2]. While my artistic practice is crucial to understanding the affective elasticity of any particular concept, I want to acknowledge that this artistic-forward methodology has its limits. At a certain point, some concepts necessitate the restrictions and rigor of traditional scholarship. For the purpose of this series, I will be focusing on and utilizing the artistic (in this case, poetic) method in an effort to highlight its limits so that I may better argue for the unsung potentials of specificity.   

So, let us return to the preceding poetic foray. At the same time, keep in mind the previous poetic forays it embodies. In doing so, we can begin to draw out some similarities:

+ an understanding of a space, as constructed, deconstructed, reconstructed, imagined, etc. 

+ an understanding of a form, as mutually and non-mutually exclusive from a space, constructed, deconstructed, reconstructed, imaged, etc. 

+ an understanding of parts, as that which construct and are deconstructed through restructuring, structuring, and imagining, etc. 

+ an understanding of process, whereby parts, form, and space gain relativity through physical and/or mental handling. 

+ an understanding of activity, as a quality of process(ing), but also that which manifests beyond an initial making (or handling), and may better account for the thing-constructed’s actual lifecycle and should be thoroughly considered when…we think of understanding the context where all qualities engage. 

I would like to instead return to the supposition that “to produce from, within, and outside of the multitude of disciplinary fields that funnel in and out of the artist’s book may not require any sort of unified concreteness at all.” In this supposition we can highlight the word concreteness as a quality of a foundation. This allows us to first: see them as relatable to one another, and second: relating to the previous qualities of something constructed (form/space) of particular parts by way of specific process that involve a certain activity manifesting in a given environment (context). The tethering of these qualities is significant. The quality of their tethering is contingent on their context. 

Context, as we know, is everything.

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Note

[1] I encourage anyone to visit the entry for ‘book’ in the appropriate volume of the complete Oxford English Dictionary, and would also encourage one to look at ‘publish’ or ‘publication’ moving forward.

[2] If you ask Google to define classification you’ll get: “the action or process of classifying something according to shared qualities or characteristics.” In my case, I am interested in terms as classification frameworks and the degrees of agency these frameworks afford the qualities they contain. 


H.R. Buechler is an interdisciplinary artist, researcher, and founder of OXBLOOD publishing. Her work is broadly concerned with historic and contemporary communication technology, classification, and the valorization of aesthetic objects. 




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