They are what they are & Layers


The daily performance of Chris Ashley's weblog is loaded by successive changes in construction that can be seen as a two-way text in space set in the unfolding now of a stream of consciousness. It is constituted by an HTML table and supplements of non-esthetic information. It is this that we introduce under the concept of layers because it is this that has resolutely been evaded in the realization (construction) of the very HTML tables – esthetic information. Layers thus refer to the date, name, text or poem-explanation added to the HTML.

It is the additions - the comments which translate, shift the work into performativity (event): Time as History. It happened!

HTML Propositions and directions are given in layers and refer to the object-HTML (“All drawings start with a small table, say 18 x 16, with each cell 20 x 20 pixels, everything is on the grid, right angles only, no diagonals; everything is hard edged; there are a limited number of colors -216 web safe colors; although one can make more than 216 colors, the number of colors actually viewable varies a lot from monitor to monitor") The act of constructing HTML tables belongs to the process of pleasure. Within the chosen framework there is a daily ritual confirmation of vitality-serializing: modules-units-cells are geometric forms mutually linked into line and surface structures (Sol LeWitt,Eva Hesse,Robert Morris) and inserted into the process of a time unfolding-weblog. The idea of serial art appears at the intersection of modernistic autonomy of the discipline of painting (sculpture) and post painterly strategies. The repetition confirms –‘the supreme principle of small differences’- a paradigm of limited supplies of units-colored squares, while the units of the paradigm, are similar as much as it is needed for the difference which separate them to be instantly be visible. For example ‘It is necessary for the squares on Mondrian’s paintings to be simultaneously corresponding square forms, but of different sizes and colors-. The supply of units-cells is limited (".... I enjoy the limitations and boundaries because I am presented with a set of solutions that I can't do anything about, that I accept") by the number of colors - colors frozen in an alternative by their size- in a frozen alternative of relations in a chosen alternative that rhetorically establishes a specific space – the way space is organized is decisive for subjectivity. Identities are partially constructed by the kind of space they exist within, which is here phallocentric, linear, ascending and affirmative in the tradition of the modernist paradigm.

LAYERS reveal the links and ways of bonding between the units-modules of visual tables and they open the access to the lateral (if for a second we have taken the position inside HTML) notes-intrusions. Ashley’s own text-layer takes on one method of criticism when it chooses one or the other place for the act-the activity-the space: fragments, German language verbs, Zen Buddhist concepts, names of places in Mexico, ‘places where I have slept’, bodhi, untitled and finally: in memoriam to Susan Zonatg who advocates (this where Ashley locates his stand) an noncritical critique based on the documental and the act, impersonal and organisational approach and procedure, in which the artist or the critique him/herself is the collaborator in the articulation.

Textual additions-layers do not break down nor deconstruct the poetic and metaphysical ideals of modernisms. Everything has already taken place and is a challenge, a debt to ‘official history’. To go back always, to confirm and add, add, add, because to stop speech means to step out into an irretrievable process.

Thus, the ‘intrusion’ or the import, most often, of a distant Other – that is sunk into history, myth or death. The beginning of conflict is located in the domain of language. The place/the time-the outer world about which the poet TU FU who lived 1000 years ago spoke, leads us and becomes the current place of concern about each part of the creativity process. This reflection on technique is put in the place of the distant Other, into the field of exceptional concern, for the very reason that the technique is the very essence of all creativity. Dating, the daily inscription into time and for time, is in the tradition of On Kawara’s ‘I’m still alive’. The edge place-the directions for looking are the titles- aggressively associative forms.

INTERTEXTUALITY The language conflict between pleasure originating from the mantric discipline which uses limitations and noises coming from outside- the rest of the world, is solved by colonization-importation-appropriation of the Outer-Other (civilizations that built their longlivety and anciency through the intuitive, meditative, htonic by which the continuation of both sides is established. Although they are imminently separated, they reveal something or somebody, which is quite illegible in the very object (HTLM) from the point of view of the outer, the transient-siginifiant.
The result of this esthetic contemplation is not new knowledge but totality of experience. The place of the paradoxes-plot-meaning-limitation has never been in the merging of the texts, visually organized compositions of tables and language commentaries (images and words). One stream of consciousness-visual information flows and fill-comply to the destiny-inertia of formal systems that are analytic and do not depend on representing the outer world. The pictorial autonomy of abstraction organizes the interior in a linear way while the plot; events and information come from the exterior. Pleasure is always with the Other and thus Ashley does not give it to the Hero (HTLM) nor to the Herald (layers), thus not to anyone or anyplace apart from that which has already been chosen-imported-appropriated to be the Other.

THE PASSIVE SPACE The procedure for taking the mantric form (“A sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation...«) is illustrated by the regularity of appearance-presence-dating, structure of the HTML and in the allocation, organization and choice of layers. In that sense it is also a passive space because it has been completed by being made into a contemplation.- They are what they are. Reconsiled. According to Heidegger the role of the artist in the creation of a work of art also becomes passive and unimportant, the important part is that the work of art has been created. Although they contribute to art becoming ‘something more’ the imported additions situate it into the middle of the syntagm ‘art as art’ (Ed Reinhart discussed the meaning of that syntagm in the 50s and 60s) not showing anything else (in a treacherous-breaking up way) but propositions in and about the work itself.

The spatial text-weblog is proposed for reception and is open to questions and answers that are situated into established knowledge and experience that are the formal consequences of art.

The performance-weblog, regardless how much it has been hidden and is closed into a visual structural autonomy, always allows for the possibility of surprise, and thus contrary to the established theatre performance, we do not known where, at what point, the text will flow out, bend, situate itself.

Chris Ashley lives in Oakland, is a former teacher still working in education, draws in his personal weblog "LookSee" everyday, and writes in his work weblog "AtWork ".


*Marija Vauda&Nikola Pilipovic

Edited by: Rob Myers