TN 1.1 – 1.4
You don’t quite know where to stand. There’s always an adjustment. The sightlines are never ideal. After all, to engage with the work, you somehow have to figure out how to stand outside of the very space you share with it. You want to test it, with all its intricacies, read its surface, its depth and substance. But how would you know where to begin, when so much of what surrounds you is reflected, fractured and recomposed within the object?
And then it returns to you. In another form. Countless forms. It returns to you without limit, without border.
You don’t know where to stand, because every adjustment is a step away from the work. You are engaged in a process of unseeing, unmaking, even as you try to test for the limits or borders of this limitless scene of perception. But of course you cannot unsee your surroundings. You are drawn to them, falling prey to to where you find yourself.
Indeed you could understand the placement of the object such as this not so much in terms of context, and the meaning which evolves from it. But rather location as cause, or agency. It sets the work in motion, even as the work draws its surroundings into itself.
It is as if, in order to read it the object itself must fall away, dematerialise itself, dismantle its own sense of mass. It slips away from you the harder you look. Even at the very moment when form coalesces into something you need to speak of in terms of sculpture, and that whole history. That burden.
A question of approach. Literally, a question of how you might physically draw close to the work. Timo Nasseri’s work draws disparate strands, traditions, legacies together – of ways of making, of ways of looking. And the legacy of the object, its indebtedness to forms makes for a complex encounter. Almost unseeable.
To make an object today, or you might paraphrase, to revisit an object in this climate, is to engage in an act of resistance. Resistance against the conceptual dissolution of the object, but also against its monumentality. It is also an engagement with what we could coin the resistant. The object defends itself against fixed reading. Not merely abstract, but ideologically driven towards untranslatability, the object resists interpretation as much as it resists reading.
… Where what remains is an object in place of another.
How, then, to reinvest within those legacies of object-making, without the possibilities of a formalised reading? If Modernism’s last stand was to place the viewer inside the work, with the explicit aim of empowering the act of viewing, the strategy simultaneously disempowers, overwhelms, disorientates the viewer. The closer you are drawn into the thing, the less you see. There is nowhere left for you. Nowhere to go.
But no retreat. You are obliged to stay. Nasseri has formulated a project of obligation and mutual indebtedness. You have to stay, because the job is not yet done, the object not fully cast or bound together. The object establishes a testing ground where the act of perception is a continuous calculation of anticipation and reconfiguration. There is the logic of pure mathematics here, but this brings complexity in its wake. Fuzzy logic? Pattern, here, as in the One and One drawings, starting out for all the world with a simplicity of one step at a time, or mark, or point of intersection, never quite behaves at it should. In this way Nasseri makes a work that undermines an objectivity of execution. It looks like a systematic process, of the work making itself, of the work constantly reconfiguring itself within defined parameters. But perception opens up this field beyond the system alone. The system is bigger than you could ever assimilate. This much you know.
No secret code to be deciphered. The drawings tell you as much. Everything a given. And if all is given or determined long in advance of execution, long in advance of your encounter with the object… Then...? Then the apparent contradiction of infinite possibilities.
A second or third problem to do with where you stand.
If the reflecting surface of an object is an ideological strategy to prevent the object from acquiring monumentality, such as the Parsec series, so too is the question of scale and perspective. Not that scale is dependent upon perspective or vice versa. Indeed the concepts are almost in opposition to each other – one rooted in a measure against some other body (inevitably your body) and the other a fiction to accommodate far more than what is materially present.
Is there such a thing as perspective within the three-dimensional object? Glitch, for example, as it anticipates your journey across it, to such an extent that it seems to recede inform far quicker than the verification your pace can provide. Can you read for the constructed spaces the object establishes in more than empirical terms?
Might a scale of 1:1 still offer the legacy of perspective?
Or is the object configured according to this equivalent ratio rendered invisible, or at least indistinguishable from its source? To render the distinction, there has to be an encounter that is as profound as it is apparently simple. Facing up to the object here, is always a reflection of yourself, of what you are not.
And to compound this problem, how might you articulate an object, concave, set into the wall, such as Muqarnas or Epistrophy? You have a history of articulating the object in three dimensions. You move around it, adjusting your sightlines as you go. The motion itself helps give the thing not only form but substance. Its dimensions coexist within your space and, therefore, as hard as this might be to measure, you can define the work as a counter to the body.
There is a more a sense of virtual space established with these works, as the object (and you would wish to continue to call it such rather than resort to any evasion of site-specificity) would seem to generate a virtual space beyond the room. Beyond measure. Infinitely receding.
By establishing a presence that is both materialised and immeasurable, Nasseri seems to have solved a sculptural conundrum. The work is never burdened by its own mass. And yet, in the same take, the object is not simply a game of surfaces, and scattered illusions.
A series of renderings that are explicit in their making, even if this is negotiated by another type of otherness, often through language, more often than not a language not your own. Too simple to speak of an exotic other, Nasseri makes objects that must inhabit at least two spaces at once.
As assertively made as these works are, they sustain a conceptual index to them even as they are fully rendered in three dimensions. And even at the level of language, that language which is not yours, they resist a metaphorical equivalence. Rather language solidifies into something else. An object translated.
A translation of a translation, but not one lost to a virtual space dislocated from its reference points. But a translation that is able to lose the direct meaning of word in favour of something else. In favour of a reading that now engages your whole body, to walk along or around it.
Nasseri negotiates the thingness of language. Words, letters, even, are always already material and inextricably bound up with the objects or concepts they invoke. Even Alif, an almost silent letter that is inflected and coloured by the conditions of the word that contains it, occupies a place, gathers space to itself, insists on a materialised presence.
And insists on a place elsewhere. Two spaces at once. Or more.
TN 2.1 – 2.4
Nowhere to put yourself. Always an adjustment. The lines of what you can see or take in within the field of vision are never optimal. After all, to engage with the work you still have to negotiate how to distinguish it from its surroundings; the space you share with it. You want to test it, read for the detail, read its surface, its depth and substance. But how would you know where to begin, when so much is fractured before your eyes? As if the simplest object generates multiple manifestations of itself the more intensely you gaze at it.
And then it returns to you, in another form. Forms innumerable. It returns to you unbounded, without border.
Nowhere to put yourself, because the very adjustment is as if a step away from the work. Even as you try to test the limits or the borders of this unbordered scene, your gaze moves between the object and an estranged realm of unseeing. But, of course, you cannot unsee where you are. Nowhere for it to go, even if you can only perceive the object from the corner of your eye.
It is not a question of the object placed in context, but how the object promulgates the environment to fold back into the work. It drives and defines the work, colours it, lends it shape.
… As if the object must fall away and dismantle its own sense of mass. It moves away from you the more aware you are of your own gaze. Even at the moment when the form holds together in your eye for long enough to speak in terms of articulable form you cannot evade that debt to sculpture. So-called. All those forms gone before.
What of the approach? The disparate bits and strands, the points of return. Looking again, reengaged by a debt to forms. Complexity does not come from forms hitherto unseen, but with the moment of repetition and renewal; a moment when you recognize the repetition.
To give shape to the object now, or to put it another way, to revisit an object in such conditions, is to engage in an act of resistance. Against the conceptual dissolution of an object, but also against its monumentality. A resistant object, doing everything it can to evade any fixed reading. Neither merely abstract, nor dislodged from its own points of reference, but ideologically driven towards untranslatability, the object resists and re-sites.
… Where what remains…
How, then, within the legacies of object-making to reenter the space without the options of formal readings open to you? In that last stand where the viewer enters the site of the work, with the explicit intention of authorizing the act of viewing. The closer you get drawn into the thing, you see less. There will be nowhere left for you. Nowhere to go.
But no retreat. You have to stay. Obliged and indebted. You must stay, because the work is not done, the object is not completely cast or fully-fledged. An object that establishes a testing ground, where the act of observing becomes a continuous calculation of anticipation and adaptation. There is the logic of pure mathematics, but this cannot help but bring complexity in its wake. Fuzzy logic? Patterning, with a simplicity of step upon step, or stroke, or point of intersection. Here it starts. And here. Simultaneously. An objectivity of performance all but undermined. It looks, you believe, like a systematic process. The work that makes the work, constantly adjusting within pre-defined parameters. But the system is bigger than you could ever get to grips with. This much you know.
No secret calculations to unpack. The drawings tell you as much. Everything as given. And when all is given or determined long in advance of its being carried out, well in advance of your encounter with the object ... then? And then…
Step upon step.
Yet another problem, after countless others, to do with what keeps you here, what keeps you in place.
… Where the reflective surface of an object is materially imposed as an ideological strategy to counter any overdetermination of the object, through that materiality. The prospect or promise of scale. An opposition between what you might test with the encounter of your body and the limits of the mass in from of you, and a device that plays tricks with your sense of scale, your sense of where you are.
Something to do with perspective. Could you speak of it in three dimensions? Could you read for spaces constructed within spaces in order to establish a more empirical point of view?
An encounter scaled 1:1. For all the apparent equivalence, still something to do with perspective.
Or does the object return invisibly, indistinguishably, according to the terms set out by this ratio? Hardly a shadow to go by. To draw the distinction, between one and the other, there must be an encounter, in terms however basic. A reflection both verifiable and somehow in opposition at once. Addressing the object, here, is always the reflection of yourself as you face it. What you might not be.
And to make things still more complex, how could you define an object such as this, concave, set into the wall, beyond the dimensions of your room? You know where you are when you speak of three dimensions. You move around such an object, as you and the object in turn adjust your field of vision. This perpetual movement lends not only form or outline, but substance or mass. Its dimensions coincide within this space, as difficult as this might be to measure, where the boundaries between one and another slip or are elided by illusion.
You hesitate to suggest that a virtual space is set up through these works. A virtual space beyond the room. Beyond measure. An infinite retreat from the verification that comes with a solid form.
Never subjugated to its mass. And yet, in same moment of your encounter, you could not reduce the work simply to a set of surfaces. The illusions do not disperse completely.
Each reframing the last, each is somehow rendered strangely familiar, inhabiting a space that is not your own. These objects, then, in two places at once.
Words become things. They do the making. An indexical frame of reference, even as they attempt to present themselves wholly within three dimensions. And still they resist at the level of language itself, the language that is not yours. Never wholly metaphorical, but language that makes some thing. An object translated into form, knocked into shape.
Negotiating the thingness of the language. Words, letters are even more material and already inextricably bound together with the objects or concepts they adhere to. Even the Alif, this quiet character that is filled or voiced by the conditions of the word that frames it, still displaces. It inflects, but not in its own voice. The silence of this space and another space. Another space away from here. Two rooms away. Or more.
A translation of a translation, but not to be lost to the virtual rendering that becomes detached from all points of reference. (You cannot return a translation back to a home language without a catastrophic sense of loss.) A reading that engages your whole body now, as you move across, along, around the work. To such an extent that you no longer translate the word for the object in your head as you gaze upon it.