Perhaps it is because we live in a time where our affinity towards our natural environment has faced a grave and perilous threat that we are beginning to look inward towards the world around us, particularly to the natural world and the affirming images that it conjures on a micro-level. After centuries of technological expansion (and with a need to document it) and with a determination to harness the function of the universe to be understood on a human sense of scale and perception, the natural world and its phenomena offer, when we clearly and resolutely engage with it, patterns of an unspecified, but inherently recognizable form. This is possibly indebted to our understanding of our origins and the natural world that birthed them which begs the question: are our images biological? Are the concept of the world and its images embedded in our collective unconscious, and can we see the natural world without sight itself? Have we been biologically ingrained to understand life through images? Do they pervade our dreams? Are we born with a set of ingrained images left later to unlock?
The order of life and the fleeting temporality of the natural world and our position within it feels inalienable and relate to our imagination between reality and nature’s sacred design. This order offers a refuge from the schism between our technologically driven “progress” and the environment in which our own bodies live and thrive as an extension of the universe’s organic synthesis. When it feels as though we are being separated from one another on the quest to divine the synthesis of the organic, instead supplanted with the technological, our lucidity and our understanding of the world are abrupted. Our natural evolution towards the understanding of the biological image and its imperatives is confused.
In examining this divide, there is a noticeable repulsion that occurs in the face of the hyper-transformative technological moment-our bodies and minds, no matter how much we believe different, are caught in a biological moment where we are asked to combine our vision, rhythms, and lives with a series of substitutes. This combinative disorder is perhaps not as seamless as we hoped and in our subsequent and often-unspoken determination to dwell on the future, we have abandoned our natural biological quest to reside in the present with an indebted and incurable affiliation to our biological past. Images that we recognize, yet have not experienced directly ask are performed by a state of unconsciousness. The black sun, the eclipse drawn from the thin lids of our sheltering eyes recognize the image and our understanding of them is performed by a function buried deeply within the self the same way that any animal is cautious when approaching a deepening threat.
In entertaining this notion, images can be conjured, recognized, and understood as a parallel set of experiences. Aby Warburg was early to point out that images function on our psyche from a stored set of acknowledgments. The snake, drawn on petroglyphs, much like the form of lightning from the sky are a semi-universal system of images that our waking lives can draw from. The production of images from our subconscious fills in the gaps between what we immediately recognize and what is presented to us. We recognize images inherently on a primordial level. This presentation of the idea was also heralded in the Ken Russel film Altered States in which William Hurt’s character, in the environment of a sensory deprivation tank, begins to see historic images during his time in the tank. The images begin to live in his state of isolation and eventually cross over to …infecting… his character with physical attributes in which he grapples with their effect on his mind and body. Each return to the tank bridges the divide between what is seen and what is produced biologically.
Perhaps my thoughts are less lucid than I have hoped when trying to transmit the effect that I am intending when regarding The Missing Eye (Witty Kiwi) by the duo Mattia Parodi & Piergiorgio Sorgetti, but I feel as though their work plays with a type of image-making that is buried under the skin. Each image functions with some clarity and amount of recognition, yet, like the Surrealists before them are held slightly aloft and hard to place. They lack narrative and exceed in their singular form. When strung together through the pages of The Missing Eye, the effect is something like the gossamer state that we anticipate at the moment between sleep and lying awake, the fleeting economy of images lost, sped out of control before they are shelved internally to a place, a library perhaps, inside our mind.
The cumulative effect of these images is anxious, but not entirely unwelcoming. The contortions embedded within the whole present an uncanny state that feels neither real nor abstract to the viewer. The work on a whole is incredibly effective in allowing us to question our relationship to what we perceive as real and to what we assume to be recognized easily. I suggest the biological image as they feel received by common knowledge and acquisition and yet, they are performed by our reason as slightly askew. This type of image is incredibly hard to fabricate. In order to function with a certain amount of recognition in their inclarity, the artists are asking us to dig inside and to understand their base as partial but ultimately assumed as a form of real or potentially real under the duress of grave change to our waking environment. Perhaps we produce such images when we are conditioned by outside forces of gravity such as hardship, war, anxiety, or the threat of our organic environment.
The book is contagious in that sense as it offers, though by transient means a chance to scour what we feel close to without ever having much understanding of their single function. In a similar manner, I feel as though some motifs that return to us in dreams such as a burning bed or a set of illuminated eyes in a darkened corner ask more about our own profile than they declare. Throughout the book, the duo has emphasized this strange manner of image-making to great effect. The book is beautifully printed and the screen printed silver cover does much to add to its value as an object. I can say resolutely that I understand the images and yet, that I am not sure how so. I think this is a special book and a win for the team and the publisher whose work grows in experimental value and whose output should be celebrated along with the artists they work with. Highest Recommendation.
The Missing Eye
Mattia Parodi & Piergiorgio Sorgetti