By Gavin Keeney
“Appearance is the generation and passing away which itself is neither generated nor passes away […] The true is thus the Bacchanalian whirl in which there is no link which is not drunk […] Before that movement’s court of justice, neither the singular shapes of spirit, nor the determinate thoughts can subsist […] In the whole of the movement taken as rest, that which differentiates and gives itself particular existence is retained as something that interiorizes and remembers itself, whose existence is its knowing of itself, just as its knowing itself is immediately existence.”(1) –G. W. F. Hegel
Jules Michelet’s Histoire de France opens with Jeanne d’Arc and closes with the Revolution of 1848 after the Restoration (after Napoleon, before Napoleon III). The history of post-contemporary Art is no less a mythic undertaking, a historiographic disaster.
In Gaialight’s work we see this disaster (the catastrophe, the cataclysm, the Fall). We also see a strenuous intelligence at work (at war) that is only apparently obsessive-compulsive. If we could ‘see’ Jeanne d’Art (Gaialight), rendered iconic, we would see an innocent in armor, from the waist up, and in couture attire from the waist down (Gucci, Prada, Chanel), the faux-ironic ad campaign to follow, golden hair streaming across gleaming armor.
The anger, the passion, the campaign is a principled battle against Milan Kundera’s dreaded ‘Imagology’ (the endless semiosis denounced in his great novel Immortality), the post-modern curse or plague of fantasies present in present-day global culture (problematized endlessly by Slavoj Zizek); Hollywood, media, and advertising in particular. This surfeit of empty signs, where Life is driven into the wilderness and sacrificed, is the age-old dialectical struggle between Mammon and scapegoat. This ‘war’ finds redemption only in the turning of things into other things (the turning of things loose, or free, from ideological and socio-economical chains). To silence the Beast.
It is possible, then, that these works deconstructing and reconstructing the demented, endless reification of imagery (of media as collective psychosis) resurrects an elementary materialism of signs (an elective atomism) while refusing the actual content of the same. Michel Houellebecq’s The Elementary Particles comes to mind, as does all manner of pre-Socratic mischief perpetrated in post-modern theory and criticism; all an attempt to re-load the Real while trashing the Symbolic. Such works only appear innocent; whereas they open on the vast void of the Imaginary (interiority as Moral Law). Michelet’s or George Bernard Shaw’s Jeanne d’Arc, Houellebecq’s or Kundera’s visions of ‘the catastrophe’, or Gaialight’s faux neo-Pop assault on already dulled senses signals but one thing — that one thing the Platonic One (Truth) murdered, buried and sold within the Many.
What remains, after all (as afterimage), is the anti-ideological esprit (spirit) of the surgical strikes — the erasure and defanging of the monstrous, toxic anti-sublime beast of post-contemporary media and its rites of passage to nothingness and back (as Art).
There are two types of insanity (compulsion and obsession) on display in the Light treatments: 1/ The manic bombardment of pointless information (imagery); and 2/ The embrace of the same as substitution for authentic experience. Both are neutralized in the Work, and the Work (treatments) open on a vast silence that suggests the antidote (antithesis). This silence is the void of the Subject (Subjectivity), and its silence is the very thing parasitized and traumatized by media — this assault first disclosed in its utmost mendacious (cruel) manner by the Surrealists. It is this ‘lost’ silence, however, that the Work ultimately references; and the Work (Project) is, therefore, a violent critique of media violence, Vacuousness is, in fact, doubled, signifying a very different saturation — or, the Work as Totality signifies Nothing (pure phenomenon, in/for Itself, as Redemption).