Coup de dés
Raimundas Malašauskas, 2010

Conversations about light often end up in conversations about time because light is far from ageless. Two reasons compliment each other: first, the emission of photons starts at one point in time and finishes at another one. Second, the scope of light brings an unforeseen scale of time if one has chosen to read this evocation under the light of stars. Just imagine it (when hopefully no one sees you.)

Apparently some of stars had emitted their light long time before it has reached us: in some cases it could be millions of years ago. Therefore looking at stars is like watching planetary ruins in space. Not even ruins – sometimes the star itself could be completely gone from the space long before its signal arrived to the page. In that case looking at the sky is like watching a phantom movie whose celluloid and the projectionist have long vanished, but we are still watching it. What is more disturbing is that that movie has not been rolling entirely in our head only – there are more spectators around. Least but not last it is a back-screen we are staring at – eluding dreams like an early Star-gate screen-saver that saved us from nothing but an illusion that it is good for the screen. What a melancholic constellation of chances if not mere holes in the sky.

It takes sunlight 8 minutes and 19 seconds to reach Earth. Perhaps it could take even less time to finish reading this text. Or even less. This is how long perhaps the illuminated letters of Mallarme remain visible in the dark after they have been exposed them to natural light. When the absorption of light activates molecules in the physical substance of the letters, they slowly glow like a parade of fire-flies moving into a Hanne Darboven drawing. They bring Mallarme closer to LED screens of consumer electronics than Surrealists. When one follows words and light at the same time, destination does not wait in one place either.

It takes a nano-time particle (comparing to the time of stars) for those glowing patterns to disappear. Perhaps it takes even less for us to see their movement in one glimpse. When letters fall into the abyss of darkness while remaining at the reach of the hand, I think of phosphorescent nails. Perhaps Raffaela could see her fingers glowing with time while she was making it.

Does light write? It is like asking if a poem has an inside. But actually, it is not such a bad question. Removed from the paper of Mallarme or blind geometry of Broodthaers, the original text of Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard looms on transparent sheets of chance through which other pages are visible. It is like seeing inside of the poem (or inside the book that has collapsed with the poem) and entering its whole structure in a short-lasting moment of lucid dreaming (or lucid writing, as one could say.) One could also compare it to seeing the contents of a closed book – Wolf Messing, the famous reader of closed books, could probably tell where poem lines go with his eyes closed. But the whole book is going somewhere beyond the individual words. Letters, illuminated with words, fall into constellations of meaning that are more optic than linguistic.

Remember that last time you had all your life unfolding in the back of your eyes in only two seconds? That feeling was as chemical and non-narrative as the luminescence of Mallarmes’s poetry in this new edition.

(To “light-on” is a literal translation of “to make a copy” of something in my mother tongue. Of course, it is derived from photo-copying, which is a street-name of xerography. I like the fact that “to light-on” something means reproducing. A text of Mallarme here is reproduced entirely, one to one, but with light.)

How one does enter that text? Or go inside the text? One may venture into it using methods of personal choice or professional interest. It may lead to unraveling of systemic models or latent desires under the multiple surface of words. But seeing the surfaces of words also works.

She enters a text through that illumination, through seeing multiple surfaces of words at once, without adding a word. It looks like an illusion of meaning that rests on a surface and on the bottom at the same time. A blind encounter of a possibility “to be” and a possibility of “not to be” along the path of footnotes to test the chance of it 21.

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                                                        6                  7                                       



       13                                                                                          14                             15


 1  William Paley, Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from theAppearances of Nature (s.l., 1802), quoted after J. A.Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edn (Oxford, 1989), III, 10. See Dario Gamboni, “’Fabrication of Accidents’: Factura and Chance in Nineteenth-Century Art”, Res: Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics, 36 (Fall 1999), 205-225.
2 See Horst W. Janson, “The ‘Image Made by Chance’ in Renaissance Thought”, in De Artibus Opuscula XL. Essays in Honor of Erwin Panofsky (New York: New York University Press, 1961), I, 254-266; H. W. Janson, “Chance Images”, in Philip P. Wiener, ed., Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas (New York: Scribner’s, 1973), I, 340-53; Jean-Claude Lebensztejn, L’art de la tache. Introduction à la Nouvelle méthode d’Alexander Cozens (Paris: Limon, 1990).
3 Robert Bednarik, “The ‘Australopicethine’ Cobble from Makapansgat, South Africa”, South African Archaeological Bulletin, 53 (1998), 4-8.
4 Wolfgang Krischke, “Anfang der Kunst. Kieselig”, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 80 (7 April 1999), N5.
5 See Dario Gamboni, Potential Images: Ambiguity and Indeterminacy in Modern Art (London: Reaktion Books,2002).
6 See Erhard Schüttpelz, “Höhere Wesen befahlen”, in Gerhardt von Graevenitz, Stefan Rieger and Felix Thürlemann, eds., Die Unvermeidlichkeit der Bilder (Tübingen: Narr, 2001), 187-203.
7 M. Duchamp, Duchamp du signe. Ecrits, eds. Michel Sanouillet and Elmer Peterson (Paris: Flammarion, 1991), 50 [1912-1915]; M. Duchamp, “Apropos ofMyself” [1964], quoted in Anne d’Harnoncourt and Kynaston McShine, eds., Marcel Duchamp (Munich: Prestel, 1989), 273.
8 Emphasis mine; Duchamp, Duchamp du signe, op. cit., 50.
9 Ibidem, 51.
10 Interview with Sidney Janis, 1953, quoted after d’Harnoncourt and McShine, eds., Marcel Duchamp, op. cit., 283.
11 Petr Kral, Le burlesque, ou la morale de la tarte à la crème (Paris: Stock, 1984), 56; Henri Bergson, Le rire. Essai sur la signification du comique (Paris: Alcan, 1900).
12 Claude Faure, “Hasard et arts plastiques”, in Le hasard aujourd’hui, ed. Emile Noël (Paris: Seuil, 1991), 67-79.
13 Kenneth J. Arrow, “Agency and the Market”, in K. J. Arrow and Michael Intriligator, eds., Handbook of Mathematical Economics (Amsterdam : Elsevier, 1986), III, 1183, quoted after Etienne Balibar and Sandra Laugier, “Agency”, in Barbara Cassin, ed., Vocabulaire européen des philosophies. Dictionnaire des intraduisibles (Paris: Robert/Seuil, 2004, 26-32).
14 For a recent collection of such “delegations of agency”, see Hans Ulrich Obrist, ed., Do It (New York/Frankfurt: e-flux/Revolver, 2005); on the notion of allographic art and what distinguishes Weiner’s or Lewitt’s works from it, see Nelson Goodman, Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols (Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett, 1976), 113-123 (especially 119).
15 See Bruno Latour, Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts (Princeton: Princeton UniversityPress, 1986 [1979]); Hans-Jörg Rheinberger:“Historische Beispiele experimenteller Kreativität in den Wissenschaften”, in Walter Berka et al., “Woher kommt das Neue? Kreativität in Wissenschaft und Kunst” (Wien/Köln/Weimar: Böhlau, 2003), 29-49.
16 André Corboz, “La recherche: trois apologues” [1997], in A. Corboz, Le territoire comme palimpseste et autres essais (Besançon: L’Imprimeur, 2001), 21-30, 259.
17 See Antoine Cournot, Exposition de la théorie des chances et des probabilités (Paris: Hachette, 1843);André Breton, Manifeste du surréalisme [1924],in A. Breton, Manifestes du surréalisme (Paris:Gallimard, 1969), 51; A. Breton, L’amour fou (Paris:Gallimard, 1937), 31.
18 For an English translation, see Daniel Spoerri, An anecdoted topography of chance (re-anecdoted version), done with the help of his very dear friend, Robert Filliou, and translated from the French, and further anecdoted at random by their very dear friend, Emmett Williams, with one hundred reflective illustrations by Topor (New York: Something Else Press, 1966; London: Atlas Press, 1995). The preceding thoughts on Daniel Spoerri are gratefully indebted to Fabienne Lavennex.
19 Der Tagesspiegel (15 May 1966), quoted after Sigmar Polke. Die drei Lügen der Malerei, exhib. cat.: Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (Berlin: SMPK,1997), unpaginated [43].
20 Octavio Paz, Apariencia desnuda. La obra de Marcel Duchamp (Mexico, Era, 1978), 35-36.
21 Dario Gamboni, Stumbling over/upon Art. Cabinet [New York], no. 19, thematic issue on chance, Fall 2005, pp. 58-61. Kaleidoscopic Eye, 2009Mariana Castillo Deball, (Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, 2009), unpaginated.