Thursday, May 6, 2010

Diego Singh: STALKER

The word reality would lose all meaning, or would metastasize beyond recognition. If you missed your wife or husband, whose physical body had died, you could meet up again in the virtual world. Take a walk together. Drink cappuccino. Have sex.1
Alfredo Triff

(Full disclosure: After working for almost two hours on this review, my post disappeared without a trace. Could it be in my browsing history? Nyet. How about someplace inside the dashboard? Nyet. So, I've lost my best draft. What follows is an approximation of the original).

STALKER, is a show of paintings by Argentinean-american artist Diego Singh, from March 12-April 3 @ Snitzer Gallery in Miami. At the time of this review, the show is already history. It doesn't matter. Diego Singh is one of Miami's best young painters.

Singh's work is driven by saturated colorization, zigzagging of lines, boldly presented, contrasting media. On the formal side, there is an eclectic influence of contemporary German styles and a nervous neo-Expressionist drawing pulse. He is able to congeal Duchamp-like stoppages, in-motion body fragments (as they become a sort of chaotic telepresence of nodes and fields) and bring all these elements into a denouement consistent with his own script.  

On the other hand, the paintings' sheer plasticity can become, from the formal standpoint, a production riddle. It is here that the old curse of inspiration of the Romantics serves as caveat: What you love the most can turn into your worst enemy. But let's go on.

Dumping Puig (Oil on linen 60 x 90 inches, 2010)

What's this show about? A (true) cyber-sex relation gone out-of-whack. But who cares for veracity in cyberspace? 
I am your audience and as such, at some point, I felt like I was dating my father or my mother (for the impossibility of it). I find that with you, truth reveals itself in a fictional structure; and the reality of our construction depends on the relational aspect of that exchange and also on the contraband of your photo. Since I '"met" you, my reality became abstraction and like on the verge of modernism you were built as speculation while I turned into a verb.*
Monument (Oil on linen, 132 x 72 inches, 2009-2010)

People turn into verbs when they act in the world (make note: "actions" presume intentionality, which happens in the mind/brain). So far the mind/brain wins.

Let's define two domains: RL (real life), and VL (virtual life). Cybersex in VL will promise you the experience of RL (at a minimum cost). A subjective and liberating interplay of mutual exploration of kinky fantasies with almost no risk of physical -or psychic- harm.


Headless Torso (Acrylic on paper, 19 x 27, 2010).

The style of desire is a vicious cycle: Bloated libidinal states get reduced to a receiving end by an antenna swilling gigabytes of signal from the other end of virtual space to a monitor/head showing its own reception. The user becomes its own program!

Is this Lacanian supplanting of the Real by imaginary and symbolic registers (where fantasy -liminally- hangs so to speak?) true desire or just an aftertaste?

"A surface text that can be switched off with a click, an interaction from a distance, a love without touch." 2
If I have to locate desire in your body or in mine, it will be in the head […] In any case, as I was saying, the subjects depicted are sometimes generic headless totems, rocks that look like people, unfinished torsos from bad sculptors in the 30’s, red jackets and black pants 'walking' backwards and forward.*
Headless Torso (Acrylic on paper, 19 x 27, 2010).

Singh's Headless Torso series' makes me think of an early 1980’s video-clip choreography of headless mannequins (wearing red jackets and black pans), robotically dancing back-and forth to the beat of a repetitive drum machine. Chaotic looping, colluding lines, now mimicking the haptic pulsations of sexual role-play and jerky chatter -in IRC's, and MUD's.

As such:
Halcyon: man, am beat....that tryptophan... :-(
©KoolKam68: turkey drugs
Halcyon: seriously powerful stuff
©KoolKam68: what r u looking 4
Halcyon: it's starting to kick in
Lilmomma: hi boys, it's meeee!
Crayola boy: need more turkey soon, any young tvs, ts, cds?
Halcyon: wow momma! () yo dude that bitch on that webcam was a cyber skank
Calygirl68: lol
subboy: cboy, let's go private
Halcyon: been lookin forwrd to tis VG all week
'SUPNIG: 'Sup nigga HERE...
Blobs of deleuzenable chancy -barely liminal- bassy, down beat, pSyChiC/teledildonic contortions.

Thus, William Gibson's admonition: Cyberspace is consensual hallucination.

Headless Torso (Acrylic on paper, 19 x 27, 2010).

{So far it's all a [male] mind game to be precise (since we're talking about embodied minds)]}.

(gasping) "WOW!", "Mmmmm," "Ohhhh!" and "I'mmmmm commminnnnggg!!!" the subject haphazardly types with one finger on a keyboard, the other hand WTF¡@K%! while HE/SHE/IT is fixated to a monitor. 

Headless Torso (Acrylic on paper, 19 x 27, 2010).

headless torso appears against the black-hole of informational energy, a fractal of ludic white noise -as if a flicker of desire/distortion got sucked by mental syntactic throbbing. Why is the body shunned from cyberspace?

Headless Torso (Acrylic on paper, 19 x 27, 2010).
On our chat sessions 3 modes of exchange took place. I build you up, I erase; I attack. In all 3, there was the possibility of losing control materially, of not being able to direct that curve, or this conversation. The paintings that came from the chat room are now becoming a poster, an ad, a letter. So, in that (sort of) state of becoming, the performance that was started by your image became extra-pictorial, and at the end, what was left wasn't just a bunch of photos or paintings or letters, but rather the scene of our exchange, its process and the memory of it's materiality, whatever that was.*
The scene is about bodies without faces. And why Intimacy? At this point Singh remains ambivalent. Intimacy, by definition, cannot be reduced to a "feel" devoid of otherness.

Ok, why not "virtual otherness?"     

Headless Torso (Acrylic on paper, 19 x 27, 2010).

The white graffiti at the bottom of the above painting reads: "The situation with these headless torsos is that they achieve exactly what they want." Still some make this argument: What's more real, our "headless torsos" online, or our bodies in the daylight? Can VL = RL? It all goes back to the futile mind/body division. In the Cartesian virtual world of functionalism, mental states don't require brain or body states.

The Assistant (Oil on linen, 79 x 96 inches, 2009-2010).

This whole discussion brings to mind Freud's treatment of "instincts" and "drives." For Freud, while "instinct" is more biological, "drive" mixes both instinctual energy and psychic representation. Feminist critic Elizabeth Grosz suggests that "drives" can transform and transcend "instincts." So, in Freudian terms, the body is always traced over, (as in Singh's white lines) by desire.3

Yet, the late Samuel Todes presents an alternative picture:

"The knowable world is the human body's world, and only those elements who have some kind of affinity to the human body can enter it. For others there can be no names: others are inconceivable, imperceivable, undesirable, unimaginable, unapproachable. To appear, to be anything at all, is to be a function of the human body." 4 
I leave you with Singh's last word:

They sort of echo the basic premise for exchanging one's own nude photos on the chat room: Always headless, nobody will know who you are...You'll avoid blackmail. I only have headshots of you; you never got one from me.*
1Mark Slouka, War of the Worlds: Cyberspace and the High-Tech Assault on Reality (Basic Books, 1995) p. 20. *Diego Singh's written fragments for the exhibition (my italics). 2 Susan Hawthorne and Renate Klein, Eds. Cyberfeminism: Connectivity, Critique and Creativity (Spinifex, 1999) p. 192. 3 Elizabeth Grosz, Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism, (Indiana University Press, 1994). 4Samuel Todes Body and World  (MIT Press, 2001) p. 42.


Dissey said...

pretty cool review triff.

Dissey said...

i mean what you get into; i've tried cybersex once of twice. its pretty disappoint-in.

Anonimato said...

The topic and the art are fascinating. (:

A.T. said...

Thanks, Dissey (keep cybersex at bay).
Keep visiting.

Thanks, Anonimato. Long time no see.

Gloria A. Lastres said...

I don't see how the review could've been better than this. Singh's art resonates - I couldn't take my eyes off. Reminds me of the old movie "Lawnmower Man" - the technology is passe but the message, is alive...

Gloria A. Lastres said...

lawnmower man movie excerpt:
singh is 22nd cent...

miamibourbaki said...

Thanks, Gloria.

A.T. said...

Barbarella's "excessive machine."

Julie said...

I remember your drawings when I was 13, I was Cecilia's classmate... Beautiful then, beautiful now. Congrats!

Tarapwjv said...

Thanks, Dissey (keep cybersex at bay). Keep visiting. Thanks, Anonimato. Long time no see.

Ravidwpd said...

pretty cool review triff.