A kind of graphic unconscious1
Liz Deschenes
Eileen Quinlan
Erin Shirreff
Erika Vogt

4 July to 15 August 2015

EQ_Acting Out_2014_40x31.jpg

Moiré offers no knowing. Rather, as an effect, it questions vision. In scanning the history of moiré, alongside methods to work around and unfurl it, a pattern comprised of avoidance is illuminated. When viewed in duration, what comes into focus is an overlapping of materiality and immateriality. A shifting quality of relations is present, presenting itself that is. Emerging, a paradox takes shape in which not looking is less confusing than beholding; to realize the effect it becomes requisite to see at angle, awry to the subject light seeks to re-present.² Representing, moiré can be conceived through a visualization process in which the physicality of material is transfigured into the immateriality of the imagistic. This enhanced visibility is accrued in the crossing of singular paths to make patterns, and then again in the crossing of each pattern that composes the effect so tightly it becomes impermeable to the eye.³ Slipping, skewing, and swaying, the friction between patterns adjusts (slightly and/or radically) to reveal a process of re-composing | de-composing.

¹ “...words put the matter in a new light: the moiré effect was ultimately a kind of graphic unconscious: a basic condition of blur out of which temporary effects of sharpness were occasionally won.” Lytle Shaw, The Moiré Effect
² “Light can in fact only give way to an image when its path is impeded, when it is turned away from its course.” Eduardo Cadava, Words of Light: Theses on the Photograph of History
³ "I decompose, enlarge, and, so to speak, I retard, in order to have time to know at last." Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida

What does the composition know?¹ Like a compressed fragmented crystalline form, the spaces between surfaces are difficult to grasp. Not for lack of contrast, but the inverse, a collapse of contrast. Whereas patterns behind offer ground and patterns in front figure, moiré is composed within an interstitial space between surfaces of contact. When viewing this middle terrain we can start to conceive a veiled occultism.² However, the opacity of these layers and their subsequent depth of obscurity are not complete. If they were, there would be nothing to see. Frustratingly, moiré is fascinating in its complexity―in its dance that threatens reason and in its existence outside of the presently predictable.³ The abstract space of dull blurry shade and sharp points of light oscillating within the effect wait for the curious. With eyes captivated, awareness seeks out qualities of relation that offer form to the space-time between the layered depth of grounds and figures.

¹ “What is to be understood by composition? Two things, which compose together. First, separated by an insuperable limit, the two concepts exchange compromises; they compose together, the one with the other… This concept of the photograph photographs all conceptual oppositions, it traces a relationship of haunting which perhaps is constitutive of all logics.” Jacques Derrida, “The Deaths of Roland Barthes”
² “When the world-in-itself becomes occulted, or ‘hidden,’ a strange and paradoxical movement takes place whereby the world-in-itself presents itself to us, but without ever becoming fully accessible or completely knowable.” Eugene Thacker, In the Dust of This Planet
³ “We might pin down a buckyball’s location by observing it, but in between our observations, it takes all paths. ... no matter how thorough our observation of the present, the (unobserved) past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.” Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design

image: Eileen Quinlan, Acting Out, 2014, courtesy Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York