Vic West is in the process of exploring painting as a time-based medium, experimenting with sound and digital manipulation. Vic uses this classic medium to work with the ideas of the future of experience. Just like text, image language like painting has adapted to every time in history. Just like binary code, which stays the same despite progress in computing technology. This image language connects human experience in the past and the future. Perhaps even past the point where it is unclear what or who is experiencing things, in a trans/post-human scenario. Image language intuitively created as Vic works are, like in dreams, reaches into the unknown and the unsayable. Into an imaginary future, playing around with it, thinking with it. The results are unclear and up to interpretation, even to the creator. Like a dreamer wondering what their dreams mean.
Painting as a time-based medium
Moving images exist in different forms. There are images that change in front of you, like a movie or the unfolding world around you, and there are moving images in your mind. The changing images in your mind can act as a film, with other sensory inputs like touch sensations, built in. Essentially like a simulated model of the world (A 1000 brains: A theory of Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins), rendering backwards and forwards in time, trying out imaginary scenarios. The models and reference frames in your mind affect your perception of the world around you, as the perceptions are always placed in an internal model. Therefore, a still image becomes a moving image if the perception of the viewer is incorporated. The image changes the more you look at it. If you add sound to the still image, it would be indistinguishable from a film. This leads to the idea of painting as a time-based medium: A painting as something to look at for a period of time noting the perceptual changes. Allowing the other inputs like sound and touch to affect it. In the case of Vic’s works the added sound defines a period of time with each painting.
Time is stored in a painting in the time taken for each brush-stroke to be executed, the time taken to intuit what the next brush-stroke should be, the time needed for different layers to dry, etc. All this time is implicit in the painting when it is seen in its finished form. In this way the painting is similar to dasein, which is being with past, present and future implicit in it. (jp lecture, Time and free will) The marks on the painting end up holding a lot of information about time closely connected to the psychology of the painter. In Vic’s mind the installation is a model of dasein. The room is a body that dasein can step into. The paintings are places to look out into, from the body. The sound is a voice in the body’s mind.
Fig. 1 (DD.4) Individual-point-of-view-abstraction-perception, oil on canvas, 1 min sound loop, 2021
In Plato’s Apology of Socrates, Socrates claimed to have a daemon: a voice inside his head warning him not to make mistakes. Like a voice of conscience. The words daemon and democracy have the same root. What if the voice of conscience is a sub-personality? A personality with the desire for honesty and long term societal stability, with the ability to punish the individual if it does not act in the best way to fulfill this desire? In a hypothetical world where everyone listened to their voice of conscience, would that be the perfect democracy? (jordan peterson lecture)
In multitasking computer operating systems, a daemon is a computer program that runs as a background process, rather than being under the direct control of an interactive user. Like a sub-personality in the OS. Is there such a thing as a voice of conscience among these kinds of daemons? The ones in the external lobe so to speak. Can the consciences of human individuals reach into this digital realm and keep tabs on its moral behaviour? Or is this lobe free from its judgement?
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Fig. 4 (DD.1) Daemon-democracy-voice-of-conscience-pattern, oil on canvas, 1 min sound loop, 2021
What’s the point of being an individual?
Fanmail to a Posthuman. 4.33 min.
Fan-mail to a post-human subject
What is it like to see so much at the same time?
You know I almost can’t see anything.
Your body, the beach, the horizon, your hand holding someone’s hand.
What’s it like to know so much?
To remember thousands of years perfectly?
Because you know I can hardly remember anything.
Images for all the senses, touch, taste, smell, body position. Are you aware of the code or do you experience them as qualities?
What is pain like if it is not experienced in a single body?
Are you a body in the way that a body of work is a body?
Are you, as a feeling, conscious subject, just a metaphor?
Is there a sadness in the dissolution of your self and the selves of others?
Do you think that if i understood fully how you worked that I would believe you were alive?
Would I believe that a human, and the information technology it is entwined with, is a subject in itself?
Like different lobes in a brain unaware of each other?
Would it change my view of the subject I am? That I am part of?
Do you know exactly how I work?
Is there sadness in the loss of boundaries?
Sadness in so many memories?
Sadness in so many viewpoints?
Do you feel sad or exhilarated?
Because I could imagine both.
Please tell me you feel something.
Or do you just know things?
Or do you think I would consider you to know anything at all?
Because you know how I feel about knowing and understanding things REALLY.
Because I imagine that feels like something.
What about Exhaustion?
And limited time and energy?
What are they like for you?
Do you think your choices make a difference? Does your attitude subtly change the world around you wordlessly rippling around you? Does the way you react and don’t react to things mirror itself in other places ? Do you start programs that write themselves? Does this give you a sense of well-being and connection to the world? Do you sometimes believe things even though you don’t know why? The programs you make, do you think they will be true to your mission? Will they live on without you, doing something good? Better than you could have imagined? What if they seem to be living their own lives and you experience them as going in a bad direction? Or doing nothing at all?