Toward a Cybernetic Ontology of Thingyness
Lockhart Nelson, S.
In my work as a sculptor I am faced with a paradox, how to approach the real, the secret of things in a visual/spatial medium. How does a plastic artist go beyond superficial appearance in search of a more fundamental reality? I summarise my thinking and practice as a praxis, a ‘practice based metaphysics’. My ‘open sculptural systems’, multi-component contextually responsive sculpture-kits can be combined into a virtually any arrangement in the museum, street or other site. They are provisional, playful, they invite audiences to collaborate in their deployment to help determine how they will negotiate and disperse into their context. The main system I am talking about here, Paratekton – ‘beside the structure’ - has an ‘alphabet’ of about 40 characters that have a syntax encoded into them in terms of how they combine with each other and how they respond to the space they find themselves in. Paratekton is consciously an entelechic structure. Entelechy, ‘in-end-having’ is Aristotle’s term for what it is to be; the inner drive, principle or purpose. In Western metaphysics, the inmost soul of things, persons and entities is taken to be that which remains unchanged during the process of transformation which characterises a thing’s fleeting manifestation in the world, hence when Gertrude Stein says “a rose is a rose is a rose” she means that a rose is a rose whether bud, pollen, bloom or withered seed head. The changing phenomenal manifestation of the rose is not the substance (standing under) of the rose. So with my sculptural systems I am trying to get beneath their ‘thingyness’ and think of them as a process, a system. Sculpture could be seen as a less than ideal medium for the apprehension of such immateriality; but I maintain that paradoxically it is through this very concreteness that the elusive effulgence at the base of reality may be glimpsed.