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THE STANDARD MODEL OF MATTER: TRIBUTE TO THE 20TH CENTURY

Sofia Imber Museum of Contemporary Art, Caracas, Venezuela
July, 1999


 

 After Darkness 

by Fernando Castro Flórez (Doctor of Philosophy, International Curator of Contemporary Art)
Madrid, 1999 

 
 

 
 

Studies concerning the resistance of materials date back to the construction of the great dome of Santa Maria dei Fiori, in Florence, by Brunelleschi. Galileo studied the resistance of beams and ropes in a thorough manner in his Discorsi. It was assumed that the resistance of steel made it an almost indefatigable material: "But a series of railroad disasters (such as the impressive one — for the times — on the Paris-Versailles route in 1842), began to pave the way to the suspicion that vibrations and movements (not as regular as would be desired} to which the different parts of the machinery were constantly subjected, led to true metal fatigue" [2] The dream of technical dominance over nature appeared to dissipate. But that fatigue was the detonator for work on materials resistance that opened the path to cybernetics: the acknowledgement that fatigue curves were analogous to those observed in animals and in man, produced by muscular force. There is a surge of ecstasy when the jungle, labyrinth, and network flow together: the network of synergies that transforms certain levels into others. [3] The vanguard refuses to cultivate the root and wants to produce directly without intermediaries. The abysmal consummation of the technique would also presuppose the emergence of a desire without an object. The intention of presenting ideas as simply as possible arises from the questioning of the mechanisms; the metallurgical interrogation of Kosuth becomes derisory when problems in their specificity are encountered. [4]  To reinvent the process is an exercise that can lead to impotence: It was — affirms Nauman — really depressing. After all it was exhausting work. It was a hard and painful effort. I didn't want to have to suffer it again and again. But, of course, you have to continually rediscover and restate it and that is frightening. It is horrible to have to do this."5 Nauman's appraisal, shared by numerous artists relating to an idea of creation as a process, and that what is interesting about doing art is precisely that there is no method, is not an outright affirmation of epistemological anarchism, but rather a "deduction" gleaned from the wearing out of the scientific ideal of the Twentieth Century. 

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It is important here to refer to one of Nauman's project notes titled The test of Gödel. The text begins by recalling the results of research begun by Kurt Gödel in 1930, to prove the relative consistency of classical analysis, which led him to make the observation that mathematical truth is not definable by arithmetics. [6] "1931: Sobre las Proposiciones de los Principios Matemáticos y Sistemas Relativos Formalmente Indecidibles (Retarding the Propositions of Formally Undecidable Mathematical Principles and Relative Systems). 1) If a system is consistent, then it is incomplete. 2) (Gödel's Theorem of Incompleteness) implies the impossibility of building a computer that is equivalent to the human brain." [7] Gödel's Theorem proves that it is always possible to devise a coding system (for formal systems sufficiently complex to allow arithmetics to be cone on them), in order to eliminate the distance between the formulation and the metaformulation. The result of this fusion of a metalanguage with a target language constitutes an intrinsic indescribability that frustrates all intents at formal closing. If we take Gödel's theorem itself as a metaphor of self-reflexive metaphors, it would indicate that, at this particular moment, an intrinsic indescribability has been generated "that cannot be resolved within the system itself."8 The self-reflexive metaphors, the epistemological fold, function as crossroads or circumstances, because indescribability opens roads that lead to new routes; in the most precise manner, it exhausts hope  in a progression of knowledge. Precisely in counter-point to a harmonious idea of language, Barthes point-ed out that it is never transparent; there is no neutral, writing. [9] The impurities of the human brain are irreducible to mechanisms and the cybernetic era is, therefore, marked by failure. In a certain sense, these considerations could be related with the theories of Shannon who associates information with disorder and not with a system, thereby falling within the paradigm known as the theory of chaos. [10]