Seung-hye Hong, Organic Geometry, 2020, 29 interactive images; Autoportrait, 2020, flash animation with the music Exercise 03 by the artist, 1 min 10 secs
Goldin+Senneby, Notes on a Condition: Delay, 2020, single channel video, 6 mins 30 secs
Liam Gillick, Object Related Mapping, 2020, single channel video, 4 mins 5 secs
Young-gyu Jang, Untitled, 2020, 5:12
Jin and Park, Still Life, 2020, single channel video, 1 min
Hyunseon Kang, A Sleeping Monument, 2020, interactive 3D Object, infinite duration
“An artwork never represents anything. That is simply because there is nothing to represent. Above all, it was the artwork itself who created an entering into the openness.”
1. Every sentence is a place.
2. The landscape where Kotlovan’s space is divided and cut horizontally
3. Kotlovan’s conceptual space
Kotlovan is a Russian word meaning a pit that is dug to lay the foundation of a building for its construction. It was the title of Andrei Platonov’s 1932 novel, which was banned in the Soviet Union, but which was finally published in 1987, 36 years after Platonov’s death.
In the book the factory worker, Voschev, is fired for “standing up and getting lost in thoughts while on duty.” While searching for new work, he experiences many different things, including digging a pit (kotlovan) to design “a housing complex for the country’s proletarian,” a utopia of workers. As in most Platonov novels, the book follows the plot of “leaving home (travel) ⟶ settlement ⟶ salvation (travel)” and is a new peak in the typical linguistic techniques of Platonov, connecting words and expressions that would not normally converge. Platonov wrote the following in his secret diary about this work: “The story is not new. The pain repeats.”
Andrei Platonov was born in the last year of the 19th century, and died in 1951. His father was a railroad engineer and inventor in Voronezh, and Platonov became an engineer too, studying electrical technology at Voronezh Railway’s polytechnical institute. He started writing poems when he was 14 years old, and while attending college, he began to write across many genres, including articles, prose and novels. In a 1920 survey conducted at the first National Convention of Proletarian Writers in Russia, one question posed was “What literary trends do you sympathize with or belong to?” Platonov’s response was: “Nothing.”
Sometimes referred to as the George Orwell of the Soviet Union, he is known for writing a novel that satirized the contradictions of Communism, but this is not an accurate reading of his book. In his lifetime, Platonov was a sincere communist and maintained hope in a socialist utopia until the end. His only son was arrested, imprisoned and sent to a labor camp as a political prisoner at the age of only 15. He died of an illness he had acquired during his time in the camp, yet still Platonov’s ideals were not shaken. For him, the problem was not communism but power. This is what he wrote in his notebook: “Soviet power has taken my son away from me. It has persistently tried to deprive me of the title of writer for many years. Everyone thinks I’m against the Communists, but I am not. I just object to those who try to trample on the Russian things that are so precious to me.”
The relationship between Platonov and communism was no more than the process of a one-sided courtship. Platonov was a typical “imbecile” type (No. 2 in the classification below), and he believed in his ideals so seriously that they ruptured his reality.
1) Idiot (IQ 0~25): A person who always thinks logically but does not find the rule hidden in the context. For example, to the hackneyed question “How are you?”, idiots answer as they are. “I have been through a lot. A few days ago, my uncle passed away, and at work my boss gave me an unfair job…” Slavoj Žižek said that Alan Turing and the Czech novel The Good Soldier Svejk’s protagonist Svejk are exemplary idiots.
2) Imbecile (IQ 26~50): A person who is aware of the rule hidden in the context but never complies with it. For example, Ludwig Wittgenstein was a typical imbecile. To the question “How are you”, he would answer, “Do you ask that because you really want to know?”
3) Moron (IQ 51~70): A person who thinks and speaks from a common-sense standpoint, e.g. ‘How are you?’, ‘I’m fine and you?’ A conversation between morons.
“He could no longer strive and walk along the road without knowing that exact construction of the whole world and what a man must seek in it.”
Regarding the spatial movement of language
there are three successive operations according to Latin writers.
1) Notare: To take notes
2) Formare: To write up
3) Dictare: To read the text (in public)
“Here lies what the concept of notebook (like a notebook of a virtual novelist) refers to. What matters is a pen, not an eye. A pen (hands) ⟶ A notebook = Observation-Sentences. As in the phrase ‘Vu et phrase’, it is created in just one gesture.”
1) Brain ⟶ (Hands) ⟶ Tools ⟶ Software ⟶ Medium.
2) Tools (pens, typewriters, or computers) ⟷ Hands ⟷ Software: Paper, MS Word ⟷ Medium (a platform such as a book or screen).
*Check the direction of language after the medium stage. Brain-Nerve system or media system.
“Writing performed a tremendous feat that combined the two sensual forms of viewing and listening. Writing has a space in order to disguise itself as time, and a flat surface to hold marks representing sounds. Writing incorporates visual, auditory and linguistic processes. Francisco de Quevedo: I listen to the dead with my eyes.”
Andrei Platonov was sent to Turkmenistan in the spring of 1934 as a member of a brigade of writers. In the same year, he was also drafted into the almanac project to commemorate the Second Five-Year Plan of the Soviet Union, with Maxim Gorky was in charge of the editing. Platonov wrote for the almanac in Central Asia, entitled The Notebooks. Maxim Gorky received Platonov’s manuscript in January 1935, but rejected it, for the reason that it was inappropriate and pessimistic. In a meeting with other writers, he criticized it for being reactionary, saying, “it contains the philosophy of the reactionary elements that antagonize socialism.” The Notebooks contains a short article, ‘On the First Socialist Tragedy’. This article was first published in 1991 (a Korean translation can be found in New Left Review 4). In the article, Platonov rejects a romanticizing view of nature (this view still exists within the left), and mentions the importance of science and technology. As a former engineer who studied hydrology, and who experienced devastating drought in his hometown, Platonov maintained a cool-headed attitude towards nature, unlike other intellectuals and bureaucrats, and believed that “Nature is not great. It is not abundant.” But for that reason, nature can exist in conflict with humanity. Thus, dialectics are established between nature, science and technology, and humans. Only a socialism armed with dialectics could break through a crisis. “A world without the USSR would undoubtedly destroy itself of its own accord within the course of the next century.”
1) A part of the work
2) Known facts about the work
3) The context of the work
4) The writer’s perspective, quoting from and reading the work
5) The context colligated with the writer’s perspective
6) Media approach to the general linguistic operations (in literature)
7) Opinions on the conceptual operation of language (in literature)
8) The relationship between reality and representation according to the techniques that represent spaces
9) The space formed in the process of communication
10) Statements about the space of literature based on 8 and 9
11) The matter of readers
It is meaningless or impossible to express the space of Kotlovan in lines and planes. Kotlovan‘s boundaries are constantly deconstructed. Accordingly, only a floor plan where nothing remains “but a direction to all sides” can express the space of literature.
“[E]ndurance dragged on wearily in the world, as if everything living was situated somewhere in the middle of time and its own movement; its beginning had been forgotten by everyone, its end was unknown, and nothing remained but a direction to all sides. And Voschev took one open road.”
Skaz refers to a technique in which the accents of spoken words are reproduced in prose by paying attention to the characterization of the virtual narrator. It is a unique stylistic technique, which can be called a kind of dual phonetic (lingual) phenomenon, and can be found in the text of the Gogol, Lescov, Zoščenko, and Platonov. It should be remembered that Skaz is neither completely colloquial nor completely literary. It is linked to oral folklore and epic traditions. The author neither has an individualized or personified narrator,nor speaks in the first person. Skaz is an impersonal speech that is neither distant nor consistent with the character, and yet is a voice that ‘speaks like writing.’ Walter Benjamin’s essay The Storyteller is an example of an outstanding skaz study.
Russian filmmaker Mikhail Iampolski cites Alexander Sokurov’s film The Lonely Voice of Man (1978), based on Platonov’s novel River Potudan, as a successful example of adopting Platonov’s story into a film. What Iampolski is paying attention to is the nature of Skaz, which breaks the dichotomy between the subjective and objective, and which is embodied by the blackout used in Sokurov’s film. “A film can be described as a gradual liberation from a narrative, as an increase in subjective views, but at the same time, as subjectivity dissipating in some sort of impersonal perspective.”
Platonov’s sentence disassembles the plane of Kotlovan. It not only breaks the boundary between fantasy and reality, or between the past, the present, and the future, but also reveals that the plane of the diegetic space existing in the novel is impossible.
“Make the kotlovan four times larger.”
“Six times larger.”
In 17th century rhetoric, the metaphor of straight lines was a normative context that directed the writer to a good example of writing. It was digression that disrupted these straight lines.
When it comes to Kotlovan, the boundaries are too unclear to be discussed in terms of straight and diagonal lines. However, Voschev’s actions can be interpreted as the character’s unique behavior, showing the potential digression in the work. He is fired from the factory for his act of digression: “getting lost in thoughts.” In Kotlovan, the act of Voschev being lost in his thoughts is repeatedly depicted. There is an act of thinking that creates a gap of action, like a digression that happens suddenly with no reason or forewarning. “The strangest thing is that there is no room for such a digression, but it comes and it happens. In other words, the digression is excess and the reason why the digression is digression is because it is never in place.” A digression is a place that is not on the map, and is not included in the floor plan, due to the fact that it performs a function of anti-function that constantly changes – a digressive gap cannot be illustrated due to its nature. In other words, a digression is a place-event that causes those who find their way through Google Maps to become lost.
“As soon as Don Quixote fights a duel with the Biscayan and they swing their swords, the story we were reading stops. Here, the actions of the two characters stop, the plot stops, the manuscript stops, the anecdote of the narrator who was angry because the manuscript is cut off stops, the narrative language that was talking to us stops, the chapter stops, and the text in our hands stops.”
Most of Platonov’s manuscripts were partially lost or damaged, but some were kept in the archives of the former Soviet Union. After the Perestroika, extensive restoration work was carried out and the forgotten manuscripts were found one by one. Natalia Kornienko, a researcher at the Gorky Institute of World Literature, collected the dispersed manuscripts by Platonov and completed (restored) a novel.
“Over the years, I’ve been composing a manuscript in the form of shrapnel, from the short stories found in various files, folders and envelopes. I laid out all sorts of things that were written at different times on my desk, and they were all individually tied up, and closely resembled one another. As the types and forms of paper used in the manuscript were so diverse, Happy Moscow was completed in a very unusual state. 17.8 x 29.5 dark grayish paper, 1 x 21.3 size notepad-type paper, 22 x 29 size yellow papers threaded at home, a long, torn piece from the page of a notebook, double-folded dark gray paper… Then, at some stage, we were able to write down page numbers from 1 to 231, and complete the entire manuscript of the novel, composed of fragments of various sizes.”
L. 1-10 – single, 17 x 29, 8.
Sheet 5 – single 11.4 x 32.3.
L. 11-22 – single, 16 x 21.2.
L. 23-28 – single, 17.5 x 30.
L. 29-56 – a homemade notebook made of wrapping paper, sheet size 27.8 x 29.4.
L. 57-62 – single, paper is the same as L. 29-56.
L. 63-70 – single, 24 x 32.
L. 71, 72 – single, 23.6 x 32
L. 73-98 – homemade notebook, sheet size 24 x 32.4
L. 99 – single sheet, 23.4 x 32.
L. 100-101 – double, 21.5 x 31.
L. 102 – single, 21.3 x 31.2 cm.
L. 103 – single, 27 x 35.7 cm.
L. 104 – single, 26.5 x 36.
L. 105 – single, 26.7 x 35.7.
L. 106 – single, 27.7 x 35.5 cm.
L. 107-108 – double, 22 x 31.5.
L. 109-110 – double, 21.5 x 30.8.
L. 111 – single, 27.3 x 37.2.
L. 112 – single, 23.3 x 25.8 cm.
L. 113-163 – single, width from 23 to 23.8, length from 31 to 32.5.
L. 164 – single, 21.2 x 28.9 cm.
L. 165-169 – single, 22.2 x 29.
L. 170-171 – single, 20.5 x 30.6 cm.
L. 172 – single, 23 x 31.6 cm.
L. 173, 174 – single 22 x 27.4 cm.
L. 175-180 – single, 21 x 34.5 cm.
L. 181-184 – single, 19.4 x 30.5 cm.
L. 185 – single ruled sheet, 16.3 x 21.2.
L. 186-217 – a home-made notebook from sheets in a ruler, sheet size 14.5 x 21.2.
L. 218-226 – single sheets, 20.8 x 29.5 cm.
“In every case the storyteller is a man who has counsel for his readers. After all, counsel is less an answer to a question than a proposal concerning the continuation of a story which is just unfolding.”
Gaston Bachelard suggests the types of dialectic acquisition in literature are center and horizon. In this classification, the divide is largely between a dreamer who feels calmer in the plane-horizon, and a contrasting narrator who feels nervous in that same situation. He exemplifies Rilke for the former (“The plain is the sentiment that exalts us.”), and Henri Bosco for the latter. In Henri Bosco’s novel Hyacinthe, the spatial sense of the narrator, who introduces himself as a mountain man, shows the absence of a plane (figure); a kind of loss of direction as well as a constant production of direction.
“It just makes that internal dispersion – within which I lose myself – easy. On the plains I cannot capture myself at all and lose my wonderful sense of being. On the plains I am always elsewhere, in an elsewhere that is floating, fluid. Being for a long time absent from myself, and nowhere present, I am too inclined to attribute the inconsistency of my daydreams to the wide open spaces that induce them.”
If one is viewing literature as a kind of architectural system, is it vertical or horizontal?
Does space exist even in speculative statements? If it exists, can it be reproduced? Can language be considered as a physical place?
Kotlovan by Andrei Platonov
Happy Moscow by Andrei Platonov
The Marvelous Clouds: Toward a Philosophy of Elemental Media by John Durham Peters
Cinema and the Exploration of Meaning by Mikhail Iampolski
The Lonely Voice of Man by Alexander Sokurov
Strategies discursives: digression, transition, suspens by Randa Sabry
The Preparation of the Novel by Roland Barthes
A Place for Narrative, Criticism, and Memory by Walter Benjamin
Scene: an exchange of letters by Jean Luc Nancy and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe
The Gorky Institute of World Literature
Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard
Hyacinthe by Henri Bosco
New Left Review 4
Le Livre à venir by Maurice Blanchot
“…where all art is language, and where language is undecided between the being it expresses by making it disappear and the appearance of being it gathers into itself so that the invisibility of meaning acquires form and eloquent mobility. This moving indecision is the very reality of the space unique to language. Only the poem – the future book – is capable of asserting the diversity of tempos and tenses that constitute it as meaning while still reserving it as source of all meaning. The book is thus centered on the understanding formed by the almost simultaneous alternation of reading as vision and vision as readable transparency. But it is also constantly decentered in relation to itself: not only because the work is at once entirely presence and entirely in movement, but because the very becoming that deploys it is elaborated in it and depends on it.”
Translated by Yes More Translation
Jidon Jeong, Nothing remained but a direction to all sides, 2020, novel-essay
Hyunjoon Yoo, Selected drawings for the virtual gallery, 2020
Daum Kim, 24/7 Ambient Radio – Music To Space Out, 2020 – ongoing, internet live stream channel