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Above all, what is missing from the world is a sense of what is in operation as the

world. Even so, it can be stated without hesitation that each of us is involved (or

ought to be involved) in an ongoing process of self-invention. If each person

must invent herself further out of what she has at her disposal, we should at least
have readily available a reference guide to all that a person can possibly rally to

the cause of being a person. When I assign a meaning to something, I do it on


the basis of what? In this, as in all instances, the questioner herself is the big

question, the greater context. Being a person is an astounding event or


series of events. Astounding in its variegated ordinariness. Does variegated
ordinariness exist only always to dwindle away toward a dreary end? Why should
the astounding series of events that is a person have to come to an end? But in

regard to a whole person, what constitutes the whole of it? The body-person
cannot be studied apart from her surroundings. What wields itself as the

architectural body? To what extent do architectural surrounds guide behavior?

Can architectural inflection of thought and feeling be calibrated precisely?


REVERSIBLE DESTINY

ARAKAWA/GINS

GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM
REVERSIBLE DESTINY - ARAKAWA/GINS
ORGANIZED BY MICHAEL GOVAN

GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM SOHO


JUNE 25-AUGUST31, 1997S

THIS EXHIBITION IS MADE POSSIBLE BY GENEROUS


SUPPORT FROM FUNDING GROUP A/G, TOYOTA,
SHISEIDO, AND THE JAPAN FOUNDATION

DEUTSCHE TELEKOM IS A PROUD SPONSOR OF


THE GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM SOHO AND
THE DEUTSCHE TELEKOM GALLERIES.

Unless otherwise noted, all works are in the artists' collection.

1997 The Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation,

New York All rights reserved

All Arakawa and Madeline Gins works


1 997 Arakawa and Madeline Gins
Used by permission All rights reserved.

ISBN 0-8109-6902-5 (hardcover)


ISBN 0-89207-188-5 (softcover)

Guggenheim Museum Publications

1071 Fifth Avenue


New York, New York 10128

Hardcover edition distributed by


Harry N Abrams, Inc.

1 00 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10011

Design Michael Sumner, Burning Books, Santa Fe


Editing, design assistance Melody Sumner Camahan
Project editor Edward Weisberger

Cover by Arakawa and Gins

Printed in Belgium by Snoeck Duca|u & Zoon


Contents

140 222
Terrain
Introduction Judging Landing Sites
ANDREW BENJAMIN ARAKAWA AND GINS
MICHAEL GOVAN
238
11
150
Reversible Destiny Cities
Landing Site(s)
Dear Neverending Architectonic ARAKAWA AND GINS
Reflective Wherewithal,
ARAKAWA AND GINS
JEAN-FRANCOIS LYOTARD, 256
164 Destiny Venice
MADELINE GINS AND ARAKAWA Isle of Reversible
Films
ARAKAWA AND GINS
14
ARAKAWA AND GINS
258
The Road to Critical Resemblances 168 Reversible Destiny Houses
House: Report of a Mapping Body
Architectural ARAKAWA AND GINS
CHARLES W. HAXTHAUSEN ARAKAWA AND GINS
312
38 188 Types of Function
Works
Early Ubiquitous Site*Nagi's ARAKAWA AND GINS
ARAKAWA Ryoanji* Architectural Body
ARAKAWA AND GINS 313
42 Reversible Destiny Questionnaire
To Think, To Invent, To Be 195 ARAKAWA AND GINS
Invented: Reflections on The Sites of Reversible Destiny
Mechanism of Meaning BRUN
RADOVAN IVSIC AND ANNIE LE 314
F L. RUSH Selected Bibliography
200
54 Site of Reversible Destiny Yoro 317
The Mechanism of Meaning ARAKAWA AND GINS Selected Exhibition History
ARAKAWA AND GINS
208
112 Out of Balance
Plasticity:
Testing the Limits of Brain BERNHARD WALDENFELS
Or, Why
Is There a Wall Down the

Middle of the Tub? 214


Destiny
GEORGE LAKOFF Four Architects on Reversible
KNESL,
ED KELLER. JOHANNES
124 GREG LYNN, JESSE REISER
Saving Not
MARK C TAYLOR
Foreword Acknowledgments

to present Reversible Destiny


- A central tenet of the work of Madeline Gins and Arakawa is collabora-
The Guggenheim Museum is honored
and out-
tion, both between themselves as artists and with others inside
Arakawa/ Gins, the first major museum exhibition in the United States
immediate surroundings-whether it is with other poets, artists,
side their
devoted to the work of Arakawa and Madeline Gins. Focusing on
a
or philosophers. Arakawa and Gins see their own work
within
career committed to challenging the fundamental premises and philo- scientists,

exhibition features a larger field-the exchange of ideas. It has been a special privilege to
sophical implications of perception and space, the
work with them to create this exhibition and catalogue, and both artists
Arakawa and Gins's earliest collaboration. The Mechanism of Meaning,

1963-73, 1996, and their recent groundbreaking reversible destiny


archi- join me in thanking our collaborators.

I thank Thomas Krens, Director, for his longstanding interest in


tecture, 1971 -present.
provide Arakawa and Gins's oeuvre as well as for his support of this exhibition.
This exhibition and the accompanying comprehensive volume
formative principles while His enthusiasm has been shared by Lisa Dennison, Deputy Director and
the ideal opportunity to reflect on the artists'
Counsel.
new science. Arakawa and Gins's Chief Curator, and Judith Cox, Deputy Director and General
experiencing the possibilities of their
and catalogue, I thank
first time in For the effort of coordinating the exhibition
Vie Mechanism of Meaning (exhibited here in its entirety for the
Christina Yang, Project Assistant Curator, who intelligently and diligently
demonstrate a
the United States) and their reversible destiny architecture
discourse from saw the project through all its details, and Max Hollein, Executive
breadth of mediums and engage in a multidisciplinary
Assistant to the Director, who energetically helped launch this initiative
such diverse sources as biology and poetry. As we head toward the

being developed world- and compiled the bibliography and exhibition history.
twenty-fast century with reversible destiny sites
This book, the first major overview of Arakawa and Gins's
projects in
a particularly appropriate time to celebrate the visionary
artis-
wide, it is
which was made possible in large part through
Arakawa and Gins. English, is an event itself,
tic collaboration that defines
the impressive and patient leadership of Anthony Calnek, Director of
Michael Govan, former Deputy Director of the Guggenheim Museum,
Publications, as well as the exacting work with text and
image of Edward
recognition
and currendy Director, Dia Center for the Arts, merits special challenge of
Weisberger, Editor. For the enormous technical and creative
for his longstanding commitment to the artists' work. His organization of
contributions, thanks are
the book's design, including significant editorial
this exhibition has been handled with clarity and elegance.
due Melody Sumner Carnahan and
to Michael Sumner of Burning
An important group of organizations deserves acknowledgment for
Books, who have collaborated with the artists in the past and came to
providing the resources to realize such a significant project. They
are
understand the material in depth.
Funding Group A/G, Toyota, and Shiseido. Special thanks is given to Editorial
We also The publication was assisted also by Domenick Ammirati,
Gallery Takagi for its assistance in working with these sponsors.
Assistant-Jennifer Knox White, Associate Editor; Susan Lee, Assistant
thank the Japan Foundation for its support in producing the catalogue.
Secondino,
in the Designer; Elizabeth Levy, Managing Editor; Melissa
We are pleased to present Reversible Destiny-Arakawa/Gins
and Keith Mayerson. For their exemplary research
Production Assistant;
Deutsche Telekom Galleries of the Guggenheim Museum SoHo.
under deadline pressure, my sincere gratitude also goes to
Deutsche Telekom is a proud sponsor of the Guggenheim Museum
SoHo assistance
Curatorial
exhibition continues Deutsche Robin Clark, Collections Curatorial Assistant; Susan Cross,
and the Deutsche Telekom Galleries. This Special thanks are
Assistant; Vivien Greene,
and Curatorial Assistant.
Telekom's support for the art and technology of this century and
the next.
also due to Christa Haxthausen, Research Assistant, who shaped the pro-

ject's research effort at its critical early stage.


THOMAS KRENS perspective on
The catalogue presents important analysis and historical
DIRECTOR into
Arakawa and Gins's work, extending from its early investigation
phenomenology to its current research on architecture and city planning. Arakawa and Madeline Gins are grateful to Silicon Graphics and

For the intellectual rigor and poetic illumination of their contributions, Alias/Wavefront for generous grants. They also wish to express gratitude

my sincerest gratitude goes to the catalogue authors: Jean-Francois to the following associates of the Architectural Body Research
Lyotard; Charles W. Haxthausen, Professor of Art and Director of the Foundation: Stephan Buerger, Stacy Doris, Howard Freedman Angela
Graduate Program in the History of Art, Williams College; F. L. Rush, Gallman, Helene Greenspan, Christa Haxthausen, Quo-Ching Heaton,

Department of Philosophy, Columbia University; George Lakoff, Wayne Herman, Ulrika Karlsson, Stephanie Kaylin, Ivo Kos, Petei

Professor of Cognitive Science, University of California, Berkeley; Macapia, Robin Narvaez, David Nelson, Akihiko Ono, Jiyun Park,

Mark C. Taylor, Director of the Center for Technology in the Arts and Francesca Pietropaolo, Susana Valera Reed, Arnold Rivera, Alberto

Humanities, Williams College, and Director of the Peter B. Lewis Critical Yuko Suzuike, Hideki
Rizzo, Fred Rush, Eiko Sakai, Cedric Scharer,

Issues Forum, Guggenheim Museum; Andrew Benjamin, Professor of Tamura, Tamar Teller, LisaThomas Tsang, Oliver Wall, Chet
Tsang,

Philosophy, University of Warwick; Radovan Ivsic and Annie Le Brun; Wiener, Leigh Wishner, Tony Wong, Masa Yoshikawa, Sam Yu, and

Bernhard Waldenfels, Professor of Philosophy, Ruhr Universitat, Chris Zelisko.

Bochum; and architects and architectural critics Ed Keller, Johannes


Knesl, Greg Lynn, and Jesse Reiser. MICHAEL GOVAN
For her steady monitoring of the project's finances, thanks go to Ruth

Taylor, Director of Budgeting and Planning. I am also grateful to Nicole

Hepburn, Exhibition Administration Coordinator.


arts of conservation,
For their professional skill and dedication to the
exhibition design, registration, and installation, I thank Jocelyn Groom,

Exhibition Design Coordinator; Mary Ann Hoag and Dan Gillespie,

Gillian
Lighting Designers; Barry Hylton, Exhibition Technician;
Conservator; Peter Read, Production Services
McMillan, Senior
Manager/Exhibition Design Coordinator; Christopher Skura, Museum
Technician; Hubbard Toombs, Assistant Registrar;
Dennis Vermeulen,

Senior Exhibition Technician; and Scott Wixon,


Manager of Art Services

and Preparation.
of the exhibition, I thank
For their enthusiastic work in public access
Manager
Laura Miller, Director of Visitor Services; Elizabeth Weinberg,
Affairs.
of Visitor Services; and Scott Gutterman, Director of Public

As Hason to the funders and supporters of the exhibition and cata-

George McNeely, Director of Corporate and


logue, thanks are due to
Coordinator; and Alex
Foundation Giving; Stacy Bolton, Development
Gomez, Manager, Corporate Relations.
to the project, thanks are due to
For their enthusiasm and commitment
Roman Enders, John Han, Min Lee, Isabelle
Guggenheim interns
Shubata, and Kristin Shepherd.
Leonard, Franceses Pietropaolo, Sumie
ISLE OF REVERSIBLE DESTINY - LA CERTOSA, VENICE

* ' '
r

-'i
v '
--

If only one were not obliged to disappear in the end. If only one could practice how not to vanish forever.
Articulated terrains and low, rammed-earth walls cut across each other to form three hundred and sixty-
five gardens which, individually, and in groups, or in sequences, provide practice of this kind--a training
ground for the architectural body. Ml
\*\*x ?*
:
,
- . ktt
Introduction

Arakawa and Madeline Gins already has a


work In the short history of avant-garde art, no challenge and provocation
The collaborative of
viewers so ambitious as Arakawa and Gins's "learn how not
place in art history. The Mechanism of Meaning, the multipanel cycle begun by artists to is

to die." Reversible destiny challenges the definition of art


itself, eschew-
in 1963, completed in large part by 1973, and augmented with two
new
praclu a]
touchstone of conceptual art. Marcel ing aesthetics for something that might be called "practice"-the
panels for this exhibition, is a

own work he wanted to "put art back at implementation of philosophical ideas, and practice for living. Reversible
Duchamp said that through his
embodied in drawings, models, and outdoor parks and buildings,
the service of the mind." Arakawa, a friend of Duchamp, wanted art to destiny,

mind that contemplates such as the recently completed Site of Reversible Destiny-Yoro, L993-95, in
question the very nature of the it.

if not art, but


Gifu Prefecture, Japan, looks something like architecture,
An open-ended project begun when Arakawa and Gins first met in
rejects architecture's aesthetics as well as its traditional function.
New York, The Mechanism of Meaning stands as a huge compendium of we know
Too practical to be art, too confounding to be architecture, as
human capability. In the course of its elaborate analysis of meaning, this
like Vie Mechanism of Meaning, is presented as
into sixteen subdivi- them, reversible destiny,
cycle of eighty-three mixed-media panels-divided
exercises that blur any distinction between mind and body. In the park
sions,such as I Neutralization of Subjectivity and 7. Splitting ofMeamng-
and buildings of the Site of Reversible Destiny-Yoro, we are asked to walk
addresses a range of philosophical issues centered
around the nature of
along steep and changing inclines and to make sense of nonsensical dis-
connection between body
perception and, in particular, the inseparable objects and images-
crepancies in scale and arrangement of familiar
and mind in the process of all human understanding.
bearings. We walk across
without benefit of a fixed horizon to keep our
Incorporating stenciled letters, diagrams, drawings, and other collage
combine known streets of different cities. The map of Japan is
of interactive exercises and maps that
elements, the eighty-three panels offer a series
a roof; then, we see it repeated endlessly in different scales in varying
intended, more often than not, to serve up non-
thought experiments, We walk in a depression that
exercise, viewers incarnations as ground, object, or map.
sense when successfully executed. Through each
positive form in front of us as a hill, and yet again
appears again in its
of meaning from a particular and
actively participate in the formation on top of a wall that blocks any other
perched as a free-floating mound
slippage from meaning (or near-
specified perspective. They observe a a building, but roof is also the ground,
view of the horizon. There is its

meaning) to nonsense, and sift through and recombine elements and Outside the build-
and its walls seem not to divide interior from exterior.

events in the process of construing


meaning. a
ing, sit kitchen appliances
(which are also inside); inside, a wall div.des
systematic catalogue of the ways in
which meaning emerges in There
As a upside down on the ceiling.
presents itself as a table in two with its chairs repeated
Meaning
processes of perception, The Mechanism of one of many bathrooms: one disrupted by a wall, one
are three tubs in
work suggests that the nature
model of human consciousness. The
in total
and one on the might take several hours to go
ceiling. It

any compendium of knowledge, but m beneath our feet,


of meaning is embedded not in everything as a subtle and differ-
Meaning is not arbi-
from one room to another, experiencing
with the world.
each person's active engagement have already seen. In Arakawa and
viewer, each person, as ent comparison to something we
The
refer to each
artists mental effort
trary, but it is individual. Yoro, with every physical and
Gins's Site of Reversible Destiny-
a "mechanism of meaning." maintaining a continually changing
and artistic spent avoiding injury in the midst of
a tradition of intellectual
The Mechanism of Meaning extends no possibility for moment, like the passive
to Paul and elusive balance, there is
verbal paradox. It can be related
expression through visual and takes place in the face of a
traditional
Rene Magntte s interpretation or reflection that
the puns and puzzles of
Klee's whimsical diagrams or painting or work of architecture.
a research project the work was
paintings, and certainly to Duchamp. As and architectural history for approach-
A starting point in Western art
but provided the basis for
Arakawa and Gins s further
be the work of Vladimir
not an end in itself,
ing Arakawa and Gins's revers.ble destiny might
of "reversible destiny.
work off the canvas: the project

.979-pc-*.
Sr7lfcr I* of R.v.r.ib.e Dc.tiny-V.nic.
Tatlin and El Lissitsky, whose hybrid art and architecture was intended to tique of my own experience. I will see. I will live. Perhaps for the

put revolutionary political and social theory into practice in everyday life. first time.

and In philosophical terms, Arakawa and Gins dispute the fundamental


Or. perhaps more historically, one might refer to the tilting floors

walls of the famous leaning house in the park of Gianfrancesco Vicino principals of an intellectual tradition, beginning with Descartes, that has

Bomarzo, Italy (as Radovan Ivsic and theoretically separated mind from body, and subject from object (that is,
Orsini's sixteenth-century castle in

Annie Le Brun do so beautifully in their essay in this book). Yet, Tallin's person from world perceived). Descartes, of course, helped launch the

and Lissitsky's architecture works through a combination of symbolic notion that being (our sense of being) was a function of our conscious
mental processes: "I think therefore am," and therefore the world is
form and social function; they did not prepare us for the intended disori- I

entation, lack of discernible propaganda, and confounding of function inside my head. The corollary to his proclamation, perhaps best pre-

And the leaning house at sented in a Hegelian world view, is that the subject (the thinking being)
inherent in Arakawa and Gins's projects.

Bomarzo-poetic, disorienting, and compelling, particularly in light of and the object (the world) are separated by an infinite chasm. We cannot
know the object in itself, only as we represent it to ourselves, and there-
Arakawa and Gins's recent work-is an eccentric architectural folly
intended to amuse rather than to challenge the fundamental environs and fore we as subjects are disconnected from our world. Oversimplified,

practice of everyday life. those are the central terms of the debate that Arakawa and Gins confront.
book and exhibition, the artists have come to Through their work, they challenge the distinction between mind and
As documented in this
more body, subject and object, on two grounds primarily: First, our bodies as
the creation of their Site of Reversible Destiny-Yon, as well as the

sculptural projects that preceded it and plans for new buildings, parks, architectural bodies think as our minds (which becomes abundantly clear in
our experience, for example, of Site of Reversible Destiny-Yon). Second, the
and cities that have followed it, with a philosophical/scientific treatise of
research on mind, body, perception, space and time, and ethics. The world is not given but formed by us; a body lives in a reciprocal relation
"ubiquitous with surroundings; landing sites put into question the subject/ object
invention and explication of the terms "landing site," site," its

and "reversible destiny," among


"architectural bodv," others, in Arakawa distinction; and the effect of change (positive and negative) on the world
by us-and our perceptions of it-are indisputable.
and Gins's work and writings embody an entire philosophy of being in

What is at stake in this philosophical and theoretical debate? Our lives,


theory and practice.
Impossible to adumbrate in the space of an introduction, or even this our destiny, the natural world around us. Reversible destiny houses and

book, the terms of Arakawa and Gins's philosophical and practical chal- cities will not allow us to be complacent about a set of givens of our envi-
ronment we must realize are not given but formed by our percep-
lenge-embodied in "learn how not to die" and reversible destiny-deal that

our habit that becomes the given, which becomes the


with the fundamental nature of the relationship between us and the thing tions. It is

we call the world around us. Specifically, the artists have set out to assumptions and practice and then morals that form our destiny and lead

demonstrate that the greatest part of our experience, and therefore the to our not living-lead to the death of our perception that is the founda-

and deadening lack of under- tion of our existence, lead to the assumptions that bring terror and the
course of our destiny, is lost to a habitual
tragic threat to human existence witnessed with the Holocaust or
standing of our experience in the world.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or that bring the threat to the survival of the
The artists illustrate how we make and become part of our world
perception, much of it preconscious (that is, before the cer- ecological whole of person and world. As the artists Arakawa and Gins
through our
our mental reflection, logic, and philosophy). When Arakawa
tainty of suggest, "death might not be inevitable." Thus, they offer their challenge:

and Gins's buildings and parks disrupt our balance and confound our "learn how not to die."

expectations, they rob us of our habit but propose to give us new insight
MICHAEL GOVAN
and practice in living. Of primary importance in living is to understand
that the mind is not isolated from the body. The body thinks, forms con-
clusions about-and becomes connected to-its surroundings, and sets

the terms of our understanding long before we can rationalize our

experience in reflective thought. In the artists' example: when I stub my


toe, it is because I do not have the proper set of architectural landing sites in

place. That is, my architectural body has not assembled enough clues to
connect itself properly to its surroundings. Sites of reversible destiny

are designed to be as complex as our most innate mechanisms of our per-


ception. It might take an hour to go from one room to another, and I

might live there in a continual state of deja vu as I experience a repetition

of slightly differing perceptions. Yet, I will be involved in a constant cri-

10
Dear Neverending Architectonic Reflective Wherewithal,

Dear Friends, Dearjean-Franqois,

your antidestiny architecture "angiography"? In response to the questions you frame in support of what we are
Could one perhaps call

Would the distribution of time between beginning and end be neutralized? attempting:

the possibilities reserved for childhood remain open in every circum- The oxymoron "reversible destiny" pits a theoretically unlimited plas
Would
against hoary inexorability. The point is to force flexibility upon
stance? Might they even multiply? Could the body be younger at sixty years of age ticity

invincible necessity. The term "antidestiny" is not a worthy substu.nr


than at fifteen?
Denying necessary links between events in favor of a chaos having its
The body would no longer inhabit a dwelling that grew old along with it.

longer be dedicated to adapting itself to constant volumes -a door own inexorable givenness, antidestiny weighs in on the side of no change.
It would no
an ear here, a pair of knees there. Would its space begin Reversible destiny calls neither for a negation nor for a barring off,
here, a chair there,

but for a pivot-a pivoting around in one's tracks. Are these mortal tracks
anew each day?
pivotable? So far, this species has been sentenced to death prior to having
Instantaneous habits would come and go. Affectionately, energetically. Would
body? been able to ascertain who or what it is that must die. Why not invent
architecture summon energy and affection to inhabit the
becoming another variety of being, one thai will not
draw through encoun- ourselves into
Would it be futile to build concepts? Could one write or
relinquish its own elasticity and multivalency, one that will veer off from
ters, straight from nothingness?
ask you dire necessity?
three children playing hide-and-seek in this house as I
these
The
Why not construct life to become what it can become without worry-
ignoring the
questions reverse the destinies of the beds, the tables, the rooms,
ing about biography, pro or anti? On the Other hand, how would a biog-
foot-stamping,
assigned purposes of each. Laughter, shouts, silence, vehemence,
you? must be admitted that we,
architecture expects of us, raphy of spacetimeenergymatter strike It
breathlessness-is this, in fact, similar to the task your
not even come close to the point ol know-
of this species, have, after all,
dear Madeline, dear Arakawa?
ing who or what needs a biography?
with adding a
We are not concerned with reversing time but rather
JEAN-FRANCOIS LYOTARD squaring off againsi n
measure of reversibility to the mortal condition by
January 1 997
the distribution of time between begin-
1 ,

If one speaks of a neutralizing of

referring, of course, always to bodily time


or duration "I
ning and end,
bodily movement, one is obliged to note all manner of neutralizations
Translated, from the French, by Stephen Sartarelli.
regard?
Perhaps no one yet knows all that needs to be addressed in this

becoming
Can you accept the following definition of "growing young":
possibilities? Could
increasingly able to field an ever greater number of
"young" altogether in favor of an open-ended
you release the notion of
adult-infant find favor
nondisintegrating? Could not the concept of an

with you? The adult-infant is as infant as adult.


the Amorphous
There are reversible destiny houses, such as
the
Interpenetration the Infancy House-Lvju Chaos, ... whic h
House and
the case, be "dedicated to
body would, even more than ordinarily is

others, within the


adapting itself to constant volumes," but yes, in still

11
Ubiquitous Site House in particular, there would be no constant volumes What if an architectural body could (communally) self-administer
with which to comply. In any event, space which, as we define it, exists appropriate daily doses of both order and chaos?

only by virtue of the actions the body takes, or the series of configura- In these poor times, surfacing from childhood having gone through a

tions of landing sites delineating thebody and its maneuvers within an first acculturation, and faced with an ever-to-be-suppressed impending
architectural surround, would do nothing but recommence within both terror, most people, no matter what games they have played, began
types of reversible destiny houses, and within any ordinary dwelling for their adult lives unaware of finalities. What if a series of acculturations

that matter. could be prepared in advance for one as a sequence of architectural set-

At last no longer generalized out of existence by (the term) space, tings and surrounds?
the landings constitutive of landing sites can be noticed in the variety Architecture is a tool that can be used as writing has been, except that

of ways they occur, which include for a start: Upward landing. Lateral it can have a more extensive range of application. What if architec-
far

landing. Hesitant landing. Embracing landing. Penumbral landing. tural form could hold open the acculturative process itself? Would it not
Ricocheting landing. be the ultimate common sense, or better, the Ur-intelligent act, for this

Ever) bodily morion within an architectural surround


-
elicits a particu- species to assume responsibility for its own conceptual process? Might

lar constellation of configurations. Changing one or two aspects of an not an architecture incorporating articulator} accuracy-an accuracy that
1

architectural surround-pitch of terrain or general orientation-has the does not allow anything whatsoever that is in play to be overlooked-be a
effect of drastically altering a few of a constellation's configurations while fine training ground for an ethical stance? Might not an architectural sur-
leaving the majority of them in place. The differences that become appar- round set up to cooperate with the gathering of intelligence increase, at

ent as one moves from one architectural surround to another form as the very least, ones feeling of connection with and sense of responsibility
bodily concepts, that is, conceiving happens, more noticeably than ever, to the world? One should be no more wary of reflected-on and thought-

through and across the entire body. through architecture that embodies premises and tentatives than of writ-
Concepts generally form bodily, of course, but hardly in so evident a ing that does so. Perhaps it is dangerous, but in facing this danger, we can
manner. Could this be because the full extent of the body's scope eludes begin to insist on the species' architectural responsibility to itself.

us still? If the body is born into architecture and is from then on inextri- Would it not be good, indeed, amazing, to be finally given a chance to

cable from it, why not take it up in its full scope as an "architectural choose whether or not to be mortal? Could it be merely that this mortal

body" (the body proper plus the architectural surround)? Within an archi- coil has so far never been either amply coiled up or fully enough
tectural bodv having some cognizance of itself as an architectural body, uncoiled in a sufficiendy comparative architectural manner?

might not that which is formative of the ability to construct concepts in "See that woman over there-she's not that mortal." How can this be
the first place surface as revealed? made to become a statement of truth?

What will it be like to live in a world in which instead of conceptions Yours out of the range of any conservative gesture whatsoever,
being a dime a dozen, they are a dime for every hundred dozen or more?
If the basic unit of concern is the body, not an abstract body considered MADELINE GINS AND ARAKAWA
apart from impulses and movement, but the body in action, then will not January 1 1 , 1 997

the concepts most central to the living of a life be those formed-no mat-
ter how fleetingly-through architectural encounters?
Landing sites are tokens of types. Configurations of landing sites have
a certain uniformity and repeatability. Each sensory mode disperses as a

particular configuration at each instant. It is all quite complex because


landing sites abound within landing sites. In any case, configurations are

additive, forming constellations.


Are we not ready to tell the pesky, old-guard concepts (for example,
"mind," "space") to go fly a kite? Must we not become more adept at pin-

pointing concepts on the fly? In the midst of action, allow a brief noticing
of the atmospheric muscle or muscle tone (the airy sinews of an architec-
tural body), or a look to architectural palpation, a palpating to check the
condition not only of the body but of the architectural surround? Might
not then a deja palpe come to exist as both an embellishment on the deja
vu and a means of explicating it? How much of what the architectural

body has to say results from what articulated terrain asks of it?

12
REVERSIBLE DESTINY

death, not the word


but the event, becomes obsolete

nondeath without end

denecessitates dying

dying becomes extinct

no more irretrievable disappearances

vintage nondying

ongoing regeneration

no destiny but a reversible one


reversibledestiny
the pair as inseparable:

its motto: death is old-fashioned

Architectural Surround
ARCHITECTURAL BODY
Body Proper +

13
Site o* Reversible De*tiny Tfero, Gifu Prefecture. Jopon, )
The Road to
Critical Resemblances House
Report of a Mapping

CHARLES W HAXTHAUSEN

Negation says nothing, affirmation just as little. Arakawa and Gins: The Mechanism of Meaning, 1963-73, 1996 (see

sites of reversible destiny. But as Gins


The artistic begins with the word otherwise. -Carl Einstein' pp. 54-111) and the architectural
herself insists, these collaborations have their roots in
Arakawa's painting,

the medium to which he devoted most of his time and


energy from 1961
A raised concrete rim painted with gigantic fragments of urban maps
through the 1980s. Although appears at present that Arakawa's painted
from Cairo, Peking, Bangkok, Moscow, Berlin, Paris, and New York it

oeuvre now closed, that body of work, so intensely rewarding in its

enframes Site of Reversible Destiny-Yoro, 1993-95, designed by Arakawa is

own right, contains the germ of the ideas that found expression in
and Madeline Gins, in Gifu Prefecture, Japan. The maps are so large, visi-

reversible destiny architecture. My purpose here is to review Arakawa's


can stroll down their "streets," passing abruptly, for example, from
tors
and to assess the relationship of that two-
cityscapes, development as a painter
Times Square into central Tokyo. These schematic icons of
to his architectural collaborations with
Gins.
squares and tree- dimensional work
conjuring up images of familiar landmarks, of bustling
border a landscape unlike any other-a landscape with
linedavenues,
THE PAINTER WORKING IN THE PHILOSOPHER'S HOUSE
perfectly rounded
strange, tilted, labyrinthine structures dotting
its
homage to Paul Klee
room furniture The poet Howard Nemerov once penned a lyric
cookie-cutter hills, with kitchen appliances and living
House. Klee's art, which
Adorned with such place and titled it The Painter Dreaming in the Scholar's
incongruously dumped onto steep hillsides.
as a model "for all
Critical Resemblances House, and
sang "the secret history of the mind," could serve
names as Cleaving Hall, Exactitude Ridge, a similar vein, looking at
through research that follows spirit where it goes."' In
Trajectory Membrane featuring buildings whose walls pass
Gate, working in
the early work of Arakawa, one might
dub him "the painter
suspended from ceilings, this bizarre terrain
bathroom fixtures with chairs be understood as a
paintings could
means of the familiar stock the philosopher's house," for his
emphatically resists attempts at negotiation by some of the most funda-
which each of us constructs model-or, rather, as a stimulus-for rethinking
categories out of
of perceptual patterns and have acknowledged this
mental philosophical questions. Philosophers
2
the world.
affinity: Arakawa "makes us think
through the eyes," wrote Jean-Francois
graphic representation of the famil-
Together, these terrains-the one a Arakawa the most philosophical of living
Lyotard. For Arthur Danto, "is

other, a palpable, traversable


landscape that assaults our habits of
iar the
Italo Calvino, though technically
no philosopher, concurred with
work. Maps, floor plans, and
artists."
perceiving-mark a trajectory in Arakawa's came to mind when he looked at an Arakawa,
this assessment; what
icons of three-dimensional struc-
diagrams-schematic two-dimensional the mind itself."' Yes, the mind
comes to mind, but
from the mid-1960s to Calv.no declared, "is
paintings
tures-figured prominently in Arakawa work with Gins,
s
paintings and his collaborative
in looking at Arakawa's
1980s, his paintings began to take on a
the mid-1980s. Then, in the late "mind" also becomes evident.
literally as flat as the poverty of the very concept
element; although they remained arguably, long
three-dimensional
What has made Arakawa so attractive to thinkers has,
increasingly
to engage the beholder in From Pop and Minimalism
before, he incorporated devices of the art world.
time that Arakawa, working made him an enigma to most
physical, tactile ways. It was
roughly at this Postmodernism, Arakawa's project has
energies to what the two through the multifarious forms of
redirected his
with poet and philosopher Gins, paradigms of the last three-and-a-
painting been resistant to the dominant critical
architecture," leaving
have termed "reversible destiny
artists Much writing on Arakawa's painting has
of the best critical
a half decades.
dimensions into three marked not only the
behind 3 The move from two focused on its
Even Armin Zweite, publishing one of
abstruseness.
change of strategy in the explo-
and
change of medium but a fundamental cautiously self-
on Arakawa,
most rigorous and penetrating essays
motivated the efforts of both-mdividually
has and concluded that
ration of perception that text "attempt at an approach,"
effacngly subtitled his
early 1960s.
and iointly-since the
the work was intended to remain an enigma."
the collaborative projects of
The present exhibition documents

15
United States-after he Arakawa's quest will find little to seduce them on what Duchamp called
The earliest paintings made by Arakawa in the

his concep- the "retinal" plane. The activity that an Arakawa painting stimulates
arrived from Japan in 1961 -confirm that from the beginning
behind the retina is much richer than the spare configurations the work
either traditional or con-
tion of painting has had little in common with
suggest offers to the senses.
temporary practice in that medium, and certain of his statements
sense that he Despite these affinities between Duchamp's enterprise and Arakawa's,
an equivocal attitude toward it, a detachment from it, in the

for paintings the rediscovery and canonization of Duchamp that took place in the art
isnot concerned with the advance, or extension, of painting
world in the 1960s helped little in furthering the understanding and
sake. "Painting is only an exercise, never more than that," he once said,
appreciation of Arakawa's project, at least in the United States. Yet, in
and his subsequent development seems to have confirmed this.'
Arakawa's painting is not completely without any relationship to some respects Arakawa seems more truly in the lineage of Duchamp than
Yet,
do those American artists whose piecemeal appropriation of his ideas has
contemporary practice. In his work of the 1960s, for example, certain
be playfully labeled "bachelors" to Duchamp as "bride."
10

extensive use of led them to


aspects may remind one superficially of Jasper Johns (the
of Robert Morris, with As with Duchamp, the process that an Arakawa painting sets in motion
stenciled letters) or of the cerebral preoccupations
within the beholder is more important than the work itself, which is
not
whom he shared a studio for a time. The pristine surfaces and the cool,
to be fetishized and has no value apart from that process. Or, rather, one
mechanical-drawing style of these early paintings, their renunciation of
might say that the painting is but a sensuous stimulus for the real work,
retinal charm and "expressive" painterly gestures, may
suggest affinities
formed by the viewer's perceiving and is only partly visible. The
with the "post-painterly" sensibility that gained
ascendancy in New York which is

forming of this largely invisible work begins with the act of looking. Yet,
in the early 1960s, a moment that witnessed an emphatic rejection of the
the received paradigms for looking at art only get in the way when stand-
pictorial rhetoric of Abstract Expressionism. But it would be utterly false

ing before an Arakawa-here we must jettison all inherited assumptions


to link Arakawa's art with the agenda of any form of Minimalism. This
well-known interview conducted in and expectations in order to engage in an open, intense, and concen-
becomes clear enough if one recalls a
trated questioning of the work itself.
1964 with a celebrated contemporary of Arakawa. It is a document
that
Arguably, the early paintings are the best introduction to the most
well conveys the temper of the New York art world in those days:
recent work of Arakawa and Gins: the basic rules of the game are
already

who want operative; the major issues are already enunciated; and the paintings
FRANK STELLA: ... I always get into arguments with people
themselves are on the whole less daunting to the uninitiated. Those issues
to retain the old values in painting-the humanistic values that they
merely
you pin them down, they always end concern the nature of perception-perception as a process not
always find on the canvas. If
engaging mind and body but constituting them in a subjective, self-con-
up asserting that there is something there besides the paint on the
only what can be seen scious sense and serving as an index of the relationship between the two."
canvas. My painting is based on the fact that

All want anyone to get out Arakawa's painting was in effect a laboratory, an experimental station for
there is there. It really is an object I
that of which
ever get out of them, the fact that you stimulating mind/body operations so that we may observe
of my paintings, and all I is
perceiv-
What you see we are normally unconscious, so that we may perceive ourselves
can see the whole idea without any confusion. . . .
is

toward the development of a more profound


ing.All of this was directed
what you see.
knowledge of what we are and of our human capacities. To that
extent,
BRUCE GlasER: That doesn't leave too much afterwards, does it?
age-the
Arakawa succeeded in endowing painting with a function in this
STELLA: I don't know what else there is."
age of its alleged functionlessness.

Arakawa's paintings of these years attest that there is


As we shall see,

what one sees may indeed be what one sees inso- EARLY PAINTINGS
in fact a great deal else;
perception without
understood as purely retinal, as an activity of sense iso- Although conception without perception is merely empty,
far as seeing is
conception is blind We can have words without a world but no world
from mind. But seeing is not isolated from mind; there is no such
. . .

lated
without words or other symbo Is. -Nelson Goodman"
simple equation between what is seen and what is perceived. Seeing is
inex-

tricably entangled with a much more complex activity than merely regis-

Even when painting was Arakawa's primary activity, he claimed


that as
tering with one's eyes what is optically there.
medium, rather, was "the area of
was probably such it was not his true medium: that
In this regard, in those days Arakawa's greatest affinity
perception created, located, and demonstrated by the combining (melt-
with Marcel Duchamp, with whom he was friendly, and who identified

of painting at the service of the ing) of languages."" For "languages," one should read types of signs, one
with the ideal, discredited by Modernism,
of which was nearly always language, while others
were iconic or indexi-
mind. " Like Duchamp's art, Arakawa's is also at the service of the mind,
cal or a combination of the two." In an
overtly metapictorial canvas of
or at the service of something usually associated with this
inadequate and
titled Paintings, which consists entirely of a cursive text by
Duchamp, those beholders blind to the nature of 1968-69,
elusive concept. As with

16 THE ROAD TO CRITICAL RESEMBLANCES HOUSE


monochromatically, in graphite. Quantity is shown not iconically, as we
Arakawa about his painting, he used the phrase "compound not mixture"
of an
to characterize his combining of languages or modes of signification. The would expect, but symbolically, as in language. Just as the plurality
nature of this compound of word and image varies, but the introduction object is signified not by multiplying its sign but by adding V to it,

never within this sign system a plurality of forms is signified by rendering a sin-
of language, whether as compositional element or merely as title, is

The gle form in multiple colors. This is good example ..I what Arakawa
a
redundant; it never merely names what is already recognizable.
meant by creating an "area of perception" by the "combining of lan-
image does not illustrate the words, nor do the words merely label the
guages"-an area of perception that is richer than could be created by
elements function as interpretants, that is, as a
image. Rather, linguistic
1.
Yet, there a para- either type of sign in isolation.
means by which to interpret the graphic elements. is
the
This compound form of signification, in which certain features of
dox here, for even as words help us to perceive the graphic configuration
object or referent are depicted iconically (for
example, shape, propor-
as an iconic sign, frequently they also render that same configuration
quantity is
while expressed symbolically, generates a curious ten
tions)
problematic.
means that in looking at the single tube on the
sion within the viewer. It
Adapting the concept of the "language game" from Ludwig the Ldentii
a picture of several tubes; while looking at
al
we must form
Wittgenstein, it is tempting to call these early Arakawa
paintings "signifi- left

only one tube. The linguistic message


proceed by means of set- shape on the right we are to picture
cationgames." Wittgenstein's language games
in conflict with the iconic message.
1
" This conflict of codes,
linguistic signs and things or appears to be
ting up arbitrary relationships between
what the text
These languages he sets this contradiction between what we see iconically and
actions as elementary systems of communication. and also
instructs us to think, disrupts the familiar habits of perception
throw light on the facts of
up as "objects of comparison which are meant to her own body in that process.
heightens the viewer's awareness of his or
our language, by way not only of similarities, but also of dissimilarities.
This is an example of what Arakawa and
Gins in The Mechanism of
goal: his paintings, he
But Arakawa's signification games had a different meaning" and "reassembling."" In one panel
Meaning called "splitting of
operations, answers: to make
explained, aimed "to trap questions, areas, Splitting of Meaning, for example,
17
(see p. 77, fig. 7.3) of subdivision 7.

visible by combining two or more languages.


Draw and name it."
them "SAY one THINK two" In a panel (see p. 81,
the viewer is instructed to
and/or systems of signs, but rather
Arakawa combined different types an inchoate scribble
fig 8 2) of 8. Reassembling, which shows image S? as
the nature of signification itself,
than doing so in order to throw light on
and image "B" as four squares, we are instructed, "PI W MM ^ ASB." But
set in motion in the beholder
by the
he was more interested in the process being split, the act of perception itself-
become clearer as it is more than meaning that is
this means will
attempt to interpret these signs. What we are aware of it at all, is usually experienced
which to the extent that
we examine some of his earliest paintings. here broken down into discrete
as an instantaneous, unitary process-is
(TUBES, TUBE), executed in
On the surface, the painting Untitled faculties.
stages, accomplished by discrete
identical graphic forms,
1963-64 appears simple enough. It presents two "coordination ol the senses
on each end by a cir- \rakawa and Gins have used the phrase
lines closed
each cons,sting of two vertical
parallel Uthough Arakawa prob-
are to describe this gradual forming of perception
of the form on the left
cle Thev differonly in one respect: the lines at the time, the perceptual experience that takes
ably was not aware of it

changing hues of yellow, red, green, blue and


painted in intermittently in front of his paintings has an interesting relation
place when a viewer is
rendered in dark gray hnes^ The diffi- "binding." Language n.m,.rhnis.,n
Ly while the form on the right is
ship to what cognitive scientist,
call
stenciled letters below the draw-
culty begins with the words printed in operations of perception are localized processes within
the flat and the various
identifying them as tubes.
These labels induce us to interpret regions of the cortex. Experiments
have
ings,
For while the brain; they occur in different
confusion.
configurations as volumetric, but they also spawn features such as shape, color, volume,
with the singu- shown that even different visual
the singular form of the
noun on the nght is in agreement the firing of different neurons
a differ-
designated by and movement are processed by
lar image above it, that
same configuration on the left is Crick explained, "Our experience of perceptual
between ent locations. As Francis
the word "tubes." At first,
we might interpret this discrepancy suggests that the brain in some way binds
together, in a mutu
unity
form of the label
word and the image as an indication that the plural those neurons actively responding
to different
the ally coherent way, all
present themselves. what
possible interpretations Of course, if binding is indeed
ls mistaken. But, then, other aspects of a perceived object.-
labeling or does the bel
result of an error in are not conscious of when
we perceive a famil
Is this contradiction the occurs, it is something we
other
drawing has failed to fulfill In In what will become a
denote an intention which the iar object; we
experience only perceptual unity.
Is th draw
or an error in drawing' xperience these sepa-
words: is there an error in labeling typical feature of many of
Arakawa's ,, gs
way-*, interpret^
and name "name and draw it?" There is one
,t" or rate processings before
we experience that unity, that binding.
between
Ztoras a ofplurality * we can resolve the contradiction

make sense out of this painting.


The tub In the early work, the combinations of signifies that
exclusively through the
Arakawa used
visual S) stem
lord and image and thereby colors, while always address the beholder ways.
rendered ,n multiple signify in different
word -tubes/' is signs, of course,
n lh(
.
lel( ablxl .
lhl
.

the noun, is rendered Lmgh the different types of


above the singular form of
he ube on the right,

HAXTHAUSEN 17
TITLE

18 THE ROAD TO CRITICAL RESEMBLANCES HOUSE


(being pogc
Arokowo
Untitled (TUMS. TU), 1963-64
Acrylic, oil, and pencil on convaj, 72 x 60 i ich*

Arolcawa
The Place o Saying, 1963
Acrylic, oil, ond pencil on canvas, 65 K 97 inches

HAXTHAUSEN 19
impatiently turn heel when confronted with such conundrums must then
interpret these differing
Time and patience are required to correlate and signified they cannot see. The
of sensory deprivation. labor to complete in their "inner" eye the
due to what amounts to a degree
signifies, kind of visual ana-
indexical signifies and experience of "viewing" an Arakawa painting is thus a
Language must supplement the meager iconic or paradoxically, the data that allow us to
before the "viewer" suc- logue to blindness, even if, all

even then there may be a period of bafflement


constitute the image in our minds are obtained through the eye.
the visual signified of the painting.
ceeds in constructing in his or her mind has now become
between what is optically That this effect of sensory deprivation was deliberate
In The Place of Saying, 1963, the asymmetry 1994 of Gins's Helen Keller or
evident, thanks to the publication in
initially less a source of
apprehended and what is ultimately perceived is paint-
even more Arakawa.' The book amply confirms, with many references to the
puzzlement than in Untitled (TUBES. TUBE), but in the end is
me years ago, when I asked him
identical interfacing lin- ings, a remark Arakawa made to several
emphatic. The composition is dominated by two
especially important
The area between the lines is whether any one book, any one thinker, had been
ear forms, one the inverse of the other. him and Gins her-
for setting his course. Based on my
conversations with
sort of eggshell hue that distinguishes it from the
think colored in a expected him to cite
pristine white. Standing before self and on what I then knew of his paintings, I

remainder of the canvas, which remains a


Merleau-Ponty. His
interpret it as an something by Wittgenstein or, perhaps, Maurice
this two-and-a-half-meter-wide painting one might easily "The autobiography
painting. Because of its coloration, response was as unexpected as it was unequivocal:
unusually spare example of Color-field
of Helen Keller." His familiarity with this
book went back to his youth in
relationship to the unpainted periphery
this area assumes a figure/ground been an enthusiastic admirer of
lettering that descends vertically Japan; through his older sister, who had
of the canvas. But the inscribed stenciled
Keller, Arakawadiscovered the famous deaf-blind woman from
the designation "[LIVIN]G
from the upper right-hand edge, a fragment of connection has been totally ignored in the criti-
lines that contradicts this Alabama. Although this
ROOM," provides a directive for interpreting the connection impossi-
cal literature, Gins has now, with her book, made the
spatial configuration. It leads us to
reinterpret these lines as signs, as ele-
Helen Keller or Arakawa takes the form of an often playful
be read as ble to disregard.
ments of a floor plan. The lines, it now becomes clear, are to
autobiography and accounts of
which prevent closure, are there- but always thoughtful amplification of the
sigmfiers for walls; the diagonal lines, While the Keller connection does
open lines Keller's lifethose who knew her.
by
fore doors. What we initially interpreted as a configuration of
at a work by Arakawa, it

aggregate of enclosed not necessarily simplify the process of "looking"


we now perceive, with the aid of language, as an
has made his project, whether pursued
alone or in collaboration with
spaces. But the painting-unlike other two-dimensional
three-dimensional
figurative or abstract-does not
Gins, much more intelligible.
paintings with "pictorial space," whether in 1880, lost her sight and hear-
Keller, born into a prosperous family
produce this expenence of space illusionistically, by generating sensations
following a serious illness. Her "awak-
the experience of space is ing at the age of nineteen months,
analogous to those of actual space. Rather, just before her seventh
ening" began more than five years later when,
unlocked by a purely conventional semiotic code. determined tutor,
we birthday, her parents hired a remarkable, exceptionally
the painting so relentlessly flat, because the space
Now, because is
short time,
Anne Mansfield Sullivan, herself partly blind. Within a
what we see, in what is accessible to the
expenence cannot be located in
language and reading through the
Sullivan taught the gifted young girl
centered in, is formed within, the
senses, the entire experience of space
is
into the palm of Keller's
of space seems all the more manual alphabet, communicated with the fingers
beholder, and for that reason that perception eyes, ears, and mouth.
hand. She became in effect the deaf-blind
girl's
Yet, this is not a disembodied, merely
mental, experience, for as
manual alphabet, she described distant phenomena
intense. that
open up within us, we become Through the
we become conscious of the spaces that that remained to
three senses
architectural space that we construct Keller could never have known by the
conscious of our bodies as well. The
(where she wrote her autobiogra-
her.- Keller attended Radcliffe College
within our minds, which configured on a horizontal plane, exists in a
is
communicating the substance of
As a phy) with Sullivan at her side, manually
state of tension with itspictonal sign, which hangs at ninety degrees.
tension, we gain a heightened awareness
of our own the lectures.
ensuing
result of the
Those endowed with sight and hearing can only imagine how Keller
that space
bodies, of our bodies as the locus of perception within which place than
represented the world to herself; certainly it was a less familiar
originates. since
letters might lead one to believe,
how perceiving that her autobiography and copious
"I flatten what is the view to demonstrate it is
descriptive phrases either
metaphors and
no space except she often borrowed or adapted
volume to space," explained Arakawa; "there is
g,ves
from Sullivan or from the many books she
read. A striking example is

that principle is already opera-


that which the perceiver forms."- Clearly made age fourteen to the
her description, in a letter, of a visit she at
of 1963. "The
work place of saying," the place in which space
tive in this
Statue of Liberty:
is formed and the world is created, is the beholder.'

What The medium itself seems strangely


a strange type of painting! draperies, holding in
Liberty is a gigantic figure of woman in Greek
visual art to show us things;
impaired. Arakawa disables the very power of from the base of this
The few who do not her right hand a torch. ... A spiral stairway leads
the "viewer's" expectations are repeatedly thwarted.

20 THE ROAD TO CRITICAL RESEMBLANCES


HOUSE
That was because saw everything with the
pedestal to the torch. We climbed up to the head . . . and viewed the seemed to quiver with life. I

how wonderful new sight that had come to me


scene on which Liberty gazes day and night, and O, it strange,

Arakawa's early paintings, as have said, offer something analogous to


glorious bay lay calm and beautiful in the October sun-
I
was! . . . The
new sight." He strove to produce in sighted persons, by
and the ships came and went like idle dreams; those seaward this "strange,
shine,
the perception of the
clouds that change from gold to gray; visual means, an experience that approximates
going slowly disappeared like
painting, the viewer must
homeward coming sped more quickly like birds that seek their blind; using the limited stimuli provided in the
those
construct in the mind an image of something that he or she cannot full)
mother's nest
perceive, something of which the painting offers
a limited sensory experi-
is fragmented and often my
si. Is
ence. Accordingly, the pictorial evidence
As a deaf-blind person, Keller could have breathed in the briny fra-

even the ultimate signified of the painting may itself be familiar.


grance of the bay, sensed the warmth of the October sun, and even felt ing, if

familiar visual percepts.


had no sensory capacity for Most often the paintings present a world without
the vibrations of the ship's whistles. But she only through
In such a world, language is never a redundant label, for
not have meaningfully experi-
the perception of distant objects. She could "Only
language does the world come into being. Heidegger's assertion.
colossal statue wrth her fingers, nor seen the ships
enced the form of the
the thing a thing,"" cer-
where the word for the thing has been found is
cloud metaphor nor
coming and slowly disappearing. Neither could the does to Arakawa's paintings
tainly applies to Keller's experience, as
it

gray have been meaningful to her from her own


the colors of gold and Arakawa's early paint-
have experi- Language is always a conspicuous element in
no way Keller could possibly
sense experience. There is works consist of
ings, even by occasional absence. While most of these
its
Sullivan's descriptions.
enced such things except through and/or index.cal signs, there are a few
have shared the frus- a combination of words and iconic
Undoubtedly, many readers of the autobiography where language is
consisting primarily of language and
others
husband), who regretted works
tration of its editor, John Alfred
Macy (Sullivan's
almost always experienced by the
meant to completely absent, but that absence is

that it did not contain more passages concerning "what speech of obscurity.
beholder as a deficiency, as a condition
at the poultry
her of how she felt the statues, the dogs, the chickens number of paintings dominated by
and felt the In 1968-69, Arakawa completed a
stood in the aisle of St. Bartholomew's compo-
show, and how she of language. Here, the linguistic
few that all her or consisting almost exclusively
-The reason they are comparatively is
contradi.
organ rumble. text may take the form o!
nent goes bevond mere labels; the
. .

to be like other people,'


and so she too often
life she has been trying
propositions about the painting ("I
HAVE DECIDED TO LEAVE THIS
torv
but as they appear to one with
described things not as they appear
to her, impossible directives to the
"usual lin- CANVAS COMPLETELY BLANK") or nearly
this tendency as Keller's
eyes and ears."- Gins characterized viewer ("IF POSSIBLE, PLEASE
FORGET ABOUT ANY PLACE NOT MARKED
In reality, of course, m
stark individuality.""' of a canvas
guistic covering over of [her] whose prominent inscription along the lower edge
inner faculty to serve PLACE
but through the that we cannot for-
she did "not see with her eyes, which 'the word appears eight times virtually insures
do we get a sense of
which eyes were given to us. But only occasionally of meaning" we observed in
get)
These are variants of the "splitting
that "inner faculty." fall into a
the world she formed through of the most amusing, however,
Untitled (TUBES. TUBE). Some

^
different
world that captured Arakawa's imagmation-a world form of fairly straightforward cursive inscrip-
It is this
with the aid of different class: they take the
Keller's world was formed coconut-milk cake. Into
from the one most of us know. tions of recipes for
banana cake, lamb stew/' or
hearing were com-
and the loss of sight and MM
'ah i 1968, Arakawa
( introduced
her three remaining senses, the last of these, Sky no. 2
(Coconut
indeed a sort of parallel
language. There is letters as a heading. At
the bottom of the painting,
pensated to a great degree by
:Wittgensteins language games;
for just as Mer his familiar stenciled

we read the ingredients, inscribed


individually in stenciled letters, with

son which are meant to


throw

ous experience of the radically


light on the facts of
different perception of the-deaf-Win
lean *^>^Z arrows indicating the location of
nothing unusual about
the invisible substances.

this as a visual
Otherwise,

artifact-except that it ,s a

foster .heightened awareness of

each of us forms the world


the process ofpercepts

and, in turn, ourselves


itself

in our own subjectivity. ^^J and


there is

painting! And despite

generates is a veritable orgy for


its banality as painting,
Kellers three senses-flavors,
fragrances,
the perceptual expenenc
it

alternative possibilities of
perception, u.i K M"
I'll X
Tht experience also reveals
of knowing, being,
and acting in the
^^- * *
Textures are conjured up by
the words "EC( ;." S

"COCONUT," "VANILLA," "BUTTER,"


the -ghted these conjure up
all of
"FLOUR,"
visual images
"SUGAB 'I course to
,

<

as well, but their differ-

its crucial role in Keller s peicc K


bb
her liberator,
ences-
smell -
more
Gradually,
vividly perceived

we become aware that baking


^^f^^f^^^
and eating the
hearing are ultimat 1>
cake are

"Language/wrote Macv. for which sight and


as a k,nd of surrogate
sight.
i u ,uA it
"" Keller described her J awaKening densely pleasure activities
superfluous. An Arakawan directive for the
apt
of this painting viewers

your mouth.
might be: "Close your eyes and open
new thought every
name gave birth to a .
. . j

HAXTHAUSEN 21
COCONUT MILK CAKE
Two f- /nek Round Czfa$

>j cps ontCt flour

3 t*4i/>09*$ h*bl*-4cti*i baking pwd-er


/$ fasp**h
r silt
Sf t

/4 o*m t>*ti-tr

J hit** <sv yolks

Af c* .#&/ milk ot mllK

yu*A^ l+L+\ f^vo 4* *v*T~ <Jf m**uJ+o . % AAAf.

MILK COCONUT
SALT SUGAR
/
IJUTTKU
#
VANILLA \
PLOirii

Arakowo
Sky no. 2 (Coconut Milk Cake), 1968
Acrylic and oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches

22 THE ROAD TO CRITICAL RESEMBLANCES HOUSE


Sculpting no. 7, 1961-62, exemplifies the other extreme: the absence TRACKING PERCEPTION: "CLEAVING/' "BLANK," AND "LANDING
of SITES"
language, an absence that is acutely felt in this case. It is a spare canvas But why "alphabet skin"? Does it refer to the human skin that is identified
consisting of a series of boxes-eleven of them rectangles, the twelfth by label? Or to the deaf-blind Keller learning and utilizing the alphabet
irregular-along the left side of the painting, each of which has
an arrow only through her skin, through the manual alphabet and Braille, the
pointing to the edge, presumably linking the box to an object that lies alphabet that had endowed her with a strange, new sight through which
beyond the visual field. In some places, the arrows from several boxes her world came into being? I lean toward the latter explanation but am
converge toward a single site; in the lower left corner, instead of a box inclined to carry it further, possibly beyond Arakawa's own intended
there is a single point. Along the right edge is a vertical line, intersected meaning. Just as skin functions as a sort of envelope of the body (a

by a single arrow. In the bottom right corner is a box indicating the tide, metaphor brilliantly incarnated in certain sculptures by Kiki Smith), lan-
name, and date of the painting. That is all. guage becomes a set of envelopes for the blind, containers for dividing up
The "sculpting" of the title is a metaphor for the process of articulating the tactile continuum into discrete objects."* In this regard, language, in

the blank continuum of the canvas, not the result of that process. the form of these alphabet skins, functions as vision does for the sighted.

(It seems consistent with the rules of Arakawa's version of blindman's For as Gins has put it:

buff that the metaphor is drawn from a tactile process.) The results of that

articulation remain as yet nameless, for it is not the boxes that are Characteristic of the sense of sight is a constant slicing up of the world
sculpted; they only indicate the sites of the sculpting, sites awaiting names into separate parts at seemingly some remove from the ongoing sens-

so that the world, and thought, can spring into being. The painting is ing-not at all how it is with the sense of touch. Sight cleaves apart thing

one of the first Arakawa completed after his arrival in New York, but pre- from thing and person from thing; that is why Merleau-Ponty called

cisely the isolation and intensification of this process of articulation, of the this the fragmentary sense. Those not having this cutting-off maneuver
forming of discrete entities out of a blank continuum, would become available to them . . . must live in a world that remains all of its own
the central issue of his work. Sculpting became "cleaving," the unidenti- thickness, one that moves always through its own texture, more
fied referents of the arrows became "perceptual landing sites," and immersed than immersed in its own self-sameness." (emphasis added)

"blank" became their precondition or ground. We shall return to these

terms below. The term "cleaving" that Gins employed is one that she and Arakawa

The overwhelming majority of Arakawa's paintings fall between these have used in both of its ostensibly antithetical senses, that is, the more
common denotation, being "to divide or to separate from," and the oppo-
two extremes, with a more equally balanced combination of the linguis-

and the indexical. Alphabet Skin, 1965-66, a more typical site meaning, "to adhere or cling to." Through this process of cleaving, all
tic, the iconic, is

name and an especially thought, feeling, perception, and so on are formed by and out of what
example of Arakawa's game of "draw and it" rich
they call "blank," leaving the rest blank as before: "During the cleaving
one. In some ways, it is a later, more elaborate variant of The Place of
now readily identifiable something becomes apparent and something remains blank.""' The sites
Saying. But in contrast to that work, the motif is

of such cleaving they call "perceptual landing sites." "It is unknown to


as a room, due to the foreshortened windows along the top and bottom of
windows are slightly ajar, with the whom or to what cleaving ultimately answers," they declare, "but, along
the tripartite canvas. Five of these six
the wav, cleaving, in its various intensities, sculpts the perceived world by
openings revealing pure colors outside: pale blue, green, gray, yellow,
means of perceptual landing sites."" (I examine the concept of "landing
and pink. Within the long, narrow horizontal space between the win-
site" more closely in the final section of this essay.)
dows, indexical marks denote the relative positions of objects, but not
names The notion of blank-to call blank a concept would be to distort its
their shapes or any other characteristic aspects. Only by means of
nature-is central to the project of Arakawa and Gins. Although they
do these marks become identifiable as the loci of particular objects: a
began using the term only at the end of the 1960s, that to which they
foot, a bookcase, a bed, clothes, a desk, a cat, and so on. In the lower left

gave the name blank had been an issue in Arakawa's art from 1961 on.
denoting "human
of the right-hand panel, there are two curious labels,
Beginning in the 1970s, the word "blank" began to occur in titles of
skin" and a "shadow," the latter indicated, it
appears, by a sort of blem-
it. It appears
Arakawa's paintings, and propositions about blank were incorporated
ish, with a skein of bright white spray paint marking
into the paintings themselves.'-'
that it is only the windows that are
recognizable iconically,
significant
and hence partly visi- Although Arakawa and Gins often playfully employ the word "blank"
that is, without labels, for they are a source of light,

marked with regard to in some of its accepted dictionary meanings-as in "point blank" or "to
ble to many blind persons. Everything else is
draw a blank"-blank in the sense in which they use the word with refer-

place and identified by language. The analogy to Keller's experience of


ence to their project is not encompassed by any established definitions.
Gins playfully attributed to
the world is obvious. Small wonder that
what Arakawa
Perhaps the most succinct and accessible formulation of
Keller the remark: "These are among the most realistic paintings I've
and Gins mean by blank has been made not by them but by
Dagmar
never seen.

HAXTHAUSEN 23
/

nut
A/okawo
NAME Sculpting no. 1. 1961-62
Acrylic and pencil on convoi, 72 48 inche

24 THE ROAD TO CRITICAL RESEMBLANCES HOUSE


Arokawa
Alphabet Skin. 1965-66
Acrylic, pencil, and oil on convoj, lhr I,
94 k 1 80 inches overall

HAXTHAUSEN 25
leads us to an experience of "forming blank," that of cleaving occur-
Buchwald: blank "denotes by approximation that which precedes and
is,

ring within blank. The painting Blank Dots, 1982, exemplifies this process.
underlies all thought, action and perception and cannot be direi (K
be defined as a primal, unar- Blank Dots is a characteristic example of Arakawa's paintings of the
thought, acted, or perceived."" Blank might
1970s and early 1980s: from the relatively simple word/image configura-
ticulated, non-sensible medium out of which everything linked to con-
tions of the 1960s he moved toward larger-scale canvases and greater
sciousness-feeling, thinking, acting, perceiving, indeed subjectivity itself,

engaged in these activities-is configured, config- visual and linguistic complexity. In place of the simple naming character-
the very sense of a self
of paintings of the 1960s, Arakawa now introduced long, usually her-
ured bv virtue of a latent energy within blank." The condensation, the
istic

configuring of these energies, is what Arakawa and Gins have termed


metic propositions. The expanded dimensions and greater density of
sensory input slows down the process of perception, thereby rendering
"clea\ ing
process of cleaving, whereby the changing densi- discrete its stages of self-articulation, so that we might observe it slowly
It is, simply put, this
forming, that we might observe cleaving. Blank Dots consists of a long
ties of energy configure themselves within the primal, undifferentiated
proposition inscribed in gray stenciled letters over three superimposed
medium of blank, which is the true object of Arakawa's painting; the
very process diagrammatic schemes: two of an unlabeled street plan, including arrows
painting is purposively designed to initiate and energize this

becomes the observer of her own indicating traffic flow, and a third consisting of dozens of arrows arranged
in the beholder, who in experiencing it

own perceiving. This has been Arakawa's to suggest patterns of movement. The text reads:
observing, the percipient of her
goal from the beginning, even before he and Gins succeeded in develop-

ing a vocabulary and conceptual framework for discussing it.' WHEN IT ITSELF,
Arakawa's signification games, that is, his strategy of combining lan- AN OPEN POSSIBILITY FOR REASSEMBLY,
guages or sign systems in an interdependent yet often contradictory rela-
BEHAVES IN WAVES ACROSS/THROUGH CONFIGURATED ENERGIES,
tionship, emerge as central to the pursuit of this goal, for the issue of AT ITS OWN PACE,
signification is integral to blank. Blank is that which precedes and ener- ITGRADUALLY BECOMES A "FORMING BLANK"
gizes signification; it is the generative ground of signification, which is INTO WHICH ALL CONFIGURATIONS ARE DRAWN. ABSORBED.
formed out of blank and thereby differentiates blank as blank by leaving CONDENSED,
it blank." Therefore, at a given moment of cleaving, signification and AND OUT OF WHICH UNRECOGNIZABLE PLACESJUMP.
blank exist in what might be called a figure/ground relationship. Because SHAPING VOLUMES INTO IMAGES."'
blank lies it cannot be directly verbalized, cannot be
outside signification,
At first sight, the painting is perplexing. First of all, the meaning of the
directly pictured, cannot be apprehended by the senses or direcdy con-
Second, in contrast to early works like
ceived within the mind. But Gins argues that these incapacities may be proposition itself is elusive.

organism but only of any given single Untitled (TUBES, TUBE) and The Place of Saying, it is now difficult to deter-
due to limits not of the human sig-

we recast Wittgenstein's maxim at the mine the relationship between the words and the image-they appear to
nifying system. She proposes that
we cannot speak about we have nothing whatsoever to do with one another. Even when the proposi-
end of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus-'What
tion is read on a printed page, it is difficult enough to understand, but
must pass over in silence"-as follows:
when spread over a surface of such large dimensions the difficulty is

any way indeter- greatly exacerbated, for the scale of the work enforces a slow reading of
Should you find that what you wish to refer to is in

through that sign-system the text: at first, we take in only individual words and short phrases; only
minable, make no attempt to convey this

way of speaking) but go ahead after rereading the text several times can we grasp it as a syntactically
upon which you rely (through only one
coherent sentence and comprehend its semantic content. Yet, even then
and leave it blank. . . . what needs to be conveyed about the central
containing of a sphere of its meaning remains elusive, because we still do not know what the sen-
svmbolizing and image-forming process is its

way ofputting This will tence refers to; we cannot picture any of its referents. The identity of the
action that is nonconveyable through only one it.

we have constructed a way for to "say" itself subject of the sentence, "it itself," is unknown; and not one of the ten
remain blank to us until it

nouns signifies a concrete object.


to us.
i:
(emphasis added)
If we persist in our efforts, however, we begin to unravel the enigma.

We discover that the phrase "behaves in waves across/through configu-


Arakawa's early paintings were a preliminary stage of the attempt to
construct such a way. One might say that if blank is not shown, if it is not rated energies at its own pace" describes the text itself m its slow unfolding
describes
signified directly, it is intimated, it is tracked in the gap between two sig- across the swirling eddies of arrows, and the rest of the sentence
its own effect on our perception of the graphic configurations beneath it.
nifying systems, whose initially bewildering interrelationship leads us to
The text is the forming blank that draws, absorbs, and condenses these
experience that process of cleaving occurring out of blank. Arakawa's art

games configurations into the gradually expanding domain of intelligibility; it

does not signify blank, then, but by means of its signification it

26 THE ROAD TO CRITICAL RESEMBLANCES HOUSE


Arokawo
Blank Dots 1982
on canvas, 90
Acrylic x 1 38 inches
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York,

Gih of Glono ond Leonora


1
Lurio, 1 985

HAXTHAUSEN 27
stimulates us, through its anticipator)' reference to this perceptual event, were now placed at angles to it, thereby effecting a spatial tension between
to convert these iconic schemes into three-dimensional images within our both elements. In a text from this time, Arakawa explained that he wanted
minds. The painting, however, was not made for the sake of this solution, to put an end to the idea of viewing as "a passive reviewing of actions
but for the sake of illuminating the process through which we arrive at taken by an artist. . . . The viewer enters the depiction as part of it

the solution. In contrast to Arakawa's previous paintings, which incorporated


The strategies Arakawa employed in Blank Dots represent a significant schematic configurations of an iconic nature, these paintings are com-
advance over those of his paintings of the 1960s. Here he has succeeded, pletely nonrepresentational in the sense that they refer to no palpable
through the use of scale and the length and difficulty of the text, in slow- object. Moreover, their markings have become simpler, sparer, more uni-
ing down the perceptual process so that we become aware of its form/' The earliest paintings with platforms comprised a variety of mark-
microevents and microactions. Because the subject of the sentence is that ings, including such devices for suggesting space as lines breaking the
perceptual process itself, we are, even before we become aware of it, horizontal and vertical. But with Paintings for Closed Eyes, Arakawa
lured into focusing on that process. We experience the action of cleaving, achieved a drastic simplicity, restricting himself in several of the canvases
triggered by forming blank as perception configures itself within us. to free-floating horizontal lines, rendered in graphite and acrylic on pris-

It should be clearer now what Arakawa meant by saying that his goal tine white surfaces. The suggestion of space became simpler and subtler.

at this time was "to trap questions, areas, operations, answers: to make The marks on the canvases do not appear to be traces of any object; they
them visible by combining two or more languages."" The eye is not are no more than optical markers of space. Confronted with constant ele-

intended merely to gaze placidly on these surfaces, in pursuit of the sort ments of varying lengths, the beholder interprets them spatially-the

of aesthetic pleasures we normally associate with painting. These works shorter lines seem farther back than the longer ones; denser lines can
do not exist for the purpose of stimulating purely plastic sensations or of seem to be either near or far. This is not a palpable space with limits;
expressing emotion; they are not intended as "expressions" of anything. there is nothing within the space-what we sense by means of these lines

Rather these works, like all of Arakawa's works, function as reflectors: they is, simply, space. And the lean materiality of the markings is such that the
direct the complex, mysterious act of perception-the process of making surface of the canvas, viewed from the enforced distance of the ramp,

sense of our sense impressions back onto itself. Their difficulty serves to seems dematerialized; hence there is a sense of a space that lies not behind

focus our attention on our own questioning, on our own groping for the sparsely painted surface but passes through it.

sense, on our unfolding attempt at "consistency building,""' as we seek to Arakawa introduced the ramps to enrich and intensify the perceiver's
find intelligibility within these deceptively simple configurations. As Gins forming of space. The components function in at least three ways: First,
has put it, the work "presents a question no less worked out and convo- the ramp renders explicit the space of beholding by heightening the
luted than the organism that would seek to answer it" 51
And it is for the beholder's awareness of his or her own physical presence before the

sake of activating that organism so that we may observe it, so that we work. Second, the contrasting orientation of the images on the platforms-
mav observe ourselves observing, that these paintings were made. -
near and far, foreshortened, upside down, and so forth-creates a sense of
tension between the viewer's body and what is seen, thereby reinforcing

PAINTINGS FOR CLOSED EYES the beholder's sense of body as an agent of the perceptual process. Third,
After the linguistically and iconically dense paintings of the 1970s and and most important, the steeply sloping angle of the ramps heightens the
first half of the 1980s, Arakawa returned to a formal simplicity superfi- tactile experience of viewing (the creaking of the platforms also adds an
cially reminiscent of his earliest works. This was more than a stylistic evo- aural dimension to the experience). One must exert energy in moving
lution; it was part of a fundamental change in rhetorical strategy. With the against the force of gravity- to ascend the ramps and then maintain one's
painting Determining Body no. 7, 1987-88, he introduced a wholly new equilibrium as one stands on the sloping surface to gaze at the painting.

concept: he included with each painting a platform from which it was to In some later works in the series, ropes are attached to the platforms to

be viewed. These platforms, consisting of two or more joined panels cov- be gripped as an aid to maintaining a firm footing, further enhancing the
ered with Plexiglas, may consist of photographically reproduced images viewer's tactile involvement. This intensification of the tactile sense is cru-

or of solid color areas; most often, they occur in combination. In the first cial to the beholder's forming of space, and Arakawa's strategy here dis-

of such works, exhibited in 1988 at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts in New closes a fundamental insight into the nature of spatial perception. It finds

York, the platforms lay flat on the floor, but shortly thereafter Arakawa a remarkable-and to him at the time unknown-corroboration in the writ-

began to raise them at an angle to form a ramp for viewing, and they ings of Hans Jonas:
became increasingly steep. With the series Paintings for Closed Eyes,

1989-90, first shown in 1990 at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Arakawa The basic fact, of course, is that vision is the part-function of a whole

developed this idea further. The ramps, which earlier had been placed body which experiences its dynamic involvement with the environment
either parallel or perpendicular to the axis of the painting on the wall, in the feeling of its position and changes of position. The "possession"

28 THE ROAD TO CRITICAL RESEMBLANCES HOUSE


of a body of which the eyes are a part is indeed the primal fact of our sensing. This approach has found its fullest, most complex realization in

"spatiality": the body not merely as occupying a volume of space geo- his collaborations with Gins in sites of reversible destiny.

metrically but as always interacting with the world physically, even


when at rest (e.g., by mere gravity). Without this background of non- BEYOND THE FICTION OF PAINTING
visual, corporeal feeling and the accumulated experience of performed Architectural structures have always played a role in Arakawa's painting,

motion, the eyes alone would not supply the knowledge of space, not as we have seen in The Place of Saying and Alphabet Skin. But along the
withstanding the imminent extension of the visual field. way to sites of reversible destiny there have been a number of experi-
ments and prototypes in three dimensions. In 1962 6 I. Arakawa con-

The experience of space, or the forming of space, in this series of structed, out of diverse materials, a group of suspended sum hires titled

ensembles differs from that of Arakawa's previous works. In the earlier Bottomless /-///(see pp. 38-40). And a number of models and actual

works, one perceives configurations of specific volumes and spaces that are sig- structures realized in the 1980s anticipate the constructed Site of Reversible

of those Destiny- Yoro and the development of prototypes for "reversible destiny
nified by emphatically two-dimensional conventional renderings
Paintings for Closed Eyes, the viewer housing" and "reversible destiny architecture," the most ambitious being
volumes and spaces. Standing before
Bridge of Reversible Destiny/The Process in Question, a model for a "complete
experiences nothing so concrete. This space contains no volumes, no par-
titions, no boundaries; indeed, it has no articulation and so we cannot sensorium" on which Arakawa and Gins worked from 1973 to 1989.

visualize And yet, when-after having looked at one of these paintings


it.
Arakawa's cessation of painting at the end of the 1980s and his focus
on architecture in the 1990s should be understood not merely as a change
from its ramp-we follow the directive written on its surface and close our
of medium, nor even primarily as a change of strategy in the continuing
eyes, we have a remarkable and surprising experience of space, of a
exploration of perception. It constitutes a radicalization of aims. The
space discrete from the gallery space in which we stand. It is strangely
nature of this radicalization can be most easily understood through a
exhilarating: we have no image of this space, yet we feel ourselves

a space that originates closer examination of the concept of "landing sites."


enveloped by it, contained within it-and it is

The term "perceptual landing site" first appeared in the mid- 1980s m a
within ourselves.
do not signify objects, series of charts before it found a more precise and elaborate theoretical
In the paintings in this series, the horizontal lines
formulation. In the series Perceptual Landing Sites of 1981-85,
Arakawa
they are not signs for things in the space-as are, for example, the lines sig- 1

indices of space and Gins defined it as "any discerning that is to any degree beatable."
nifying walls and doors in The Place of Saying-hut are
configure it. And this expe-
More recently, they have explained: "The concept of landing site is basi-
only, of depth; they indicate space but do not
sense of our bodies cally a heuristic device for mapping how a person forms the world and
(indexical)
rience of space is intensified by the tactile
situates herself within it.""
1
In these charts, Arakawa and Gins designated
moving in actual space.
occur when a person enters a
perception of space does not the array of perceptual landing sites that
In Paintings for Closed Eyes the beholder's is made between different
persons. Although we see symmetrical octagonal structure. A distinction
sighted
correspond to the usual experience of olfactory, kinaes
types of perceptual landing sites: visual, tactile, aural,
fragmentary sense data
the marks on the canvas, we gain extremely (supplementing sense perception with the
hence, do not thetic, proprioceptive, imaging
of depth and,
thereby: we see only disconnected markers establishing and maintaining
sense of sight. The imagination), and locator-perceptual (for the
with the
experience a spatial continuum, as is usual and distance). Locator-perceptual
fragmented world" of of distance and the assessing of volume
and thus
world formed is akin to the "intermittent forms of perceiving
Like the sites occur as a result of some or all of the other
may
evocatively characterized it"
the blind, as John M. Hull has
within ourselves.* And in combination.
forming it
blind we do not see space but perceive it, Arakawa and Gins have refined and simplified theii
kinship with blindness. In recent years,
strengthens this
the activation of the tactile sense now dividing them into three basic cate-
original concept of landing sites,
blind person's sense experience of the world "whole body
Hull calls the
gories: perceptual, imaging, and architectural. Peroral landing sites,
of sight is devolved upon the
whole body,
seeing": "the specialist function types of landing sites, are now restneted to
rather than encompassing all

and no longer specialized in a particular organ." apprehension through sensor) means of


Arakawa s sites of "direct perception," the
a significant shift in
The senes Paintings fir Closed Eyes marks what is physically there. This can encompass
direct visual, tactile, aural,
to a simple, easily under-
been reduced
work The textual component has olfactory, kinaesthetic, and proprioceptive perception. Perceptual
landing
mere intimation ol
to the viewer, the
indexical to a or
stood command sites may be environmental objects and phenomena (a chaii .... ud) I.

primarily, if not exclu-


space And while the earlier paintings addressed apprehended by visual, aural, or tac-
and touch. signs (for example, words, whether
sively, the sense of sight,
the newer work engages both sight

created, tile means


the "area of perception
.

Arakawa's earlier strategy for tracking has a corresponding type of imag-


has evolved Every type of perceptual landing site
the combining of languages
located, and demonstrated by between perceptual points or areas
modes ing landing site. These "fill in the gaps
same goal by the combining oj of
into a strategy of pursuing this

HAXTHAUSEN 29
Inifollotion iew ol Poinfingj for Cloted Eye*. Rortold Feldmon Fine Arts
New Yofk. October-Ntwtmber 1 990

30 THE ROAD TO CRITICAL RESEMBLANCES HOUSE


Abrupt Resemblances 1989-90
32 90 inches each panel.
D.prych ocrylic and penal on canvas, I *

pioshc. plywood, ond rope.


ramp olum.num boards, photograph.,
s,x panels. 48 x 48 inches
each
Feldman Fin. Am, New York.
Included in Pa,nr,ng, for Closed Eyes. Ronald

October-November 1990

HAXTHAUSEN 31
conceptually consistent with "landing site," at least with perceptual and
of focus," for "without them the world would be made mostly of holes."

without architectural landing sites. Yet, even in its strangeness, the term "landing
They are "those areas of a person's perceived world that exist
more evocative of a transient microevent; something becomes a
or currently being ascertained through direct percep-
site," is
ever having been
landing site only by virtue of its being landed upon, of its being registered
tion." do not have to be actually perceiving the whole or even a part
We
of it as a whole. "Every by embodied consciousness, whereas "locus of perception" suggests a
of an object or of an environment to be conscious
degree of fixity. "Source of stimulation," on the other hand, assumes a
object is as much imaged as perceived, probably more
imaged than per-
strict separation between perceiving subject and perceived object,
ceived," wrote Arakawa and Gins.*"
whereas Arakawa and Gins subject and object mutually mediate each
For example, as am writing this, I see only my computer screen, the
I
for

other."
1
The perceiving subject as subject is constituted by its own perceiv-
objects behind it, and my hands, out of focus, at the lower periphery of
my my feet resting ing; in forming the world it forms itself.
m\ field of vision. I can feel my chair supporting body,
am neverthe- This not solipsism; it does not deny the existence of anything inde-
fingers lightly touching the keyboard. But
is
on the floor, my I

of the chair, my pendent of an individual's own perceiving. Rather, what Arakawa and
cognizant of and can visualize the shape and color
less
landing Gins are striving for, I believe, is to induce an intense experience of what
body seated on it, and the floor that supports both. Imaging
sites,
conscious-
landing sites the philosopher John Searle calls the "first-person ontology" of
then, "fill in and finish the world."" The content of imaging
;

as subjec-
on per- ness. Such an ontology recognizes that mental states "only exist
isbased on previous perception in the immediate or recent past,

tive, first-person phenomena." Accordingly, "all of my conscious forms of


ceptual memory imprint.
what Arakawa and Gins intentionality that give me information about the world independent of
The third type, architectural landing sites, are
myself are always from a special point of view. The world itself has no
earlier termed "locator-perceptual landing sites." They mark the percep-
location, the rela- point of view, but my access to the world through my conscious states is
tion of dimensions, spatial relations, and approximate
and perceived: "The quickest way to get a always perspectival, always from my point of view.""
tive positions of perceiver
As Arakawa and Gins have declared: "You are not I. WOien you stand
architectural landing sites function in this context is to think
sense of how
there and field the world as you, that is not my being in the world
of what happens when they are missing or insufficiently arrayed.
because you are not However secure we may be in our knowledge
Everyone has had the experience of feeling like an idiot when stubbing I."*

were not in place.""' that there a physical reality that exists independently of our multiple
is
his toe. The necessary architectural landings sites
subjectivities and their corresponding worlds, the only world any
of us
already an "archi-
As Arakawa and Gins have put it, the pronoun "I" is
have
ever knows and experiences is the unique one that we, individually,
tectural assertion," because it creates spatial relations, it establishes what
Arakawa and Gins have speculated that the formed.
they call "a fiction of place."'"
projects, to
architectural landing site "is probably a hybrid, in part a
perceptual and The purpose of the paintings, as well as the architectural is

these discrete
an imaging landing site.""" It seems to correspond to what James J. make the beholder conscious of this process, to experience
in part
landing sites as the stuff of which the world is formed, the world as expe-
Gibson called the "basic orienting system.""
rienced by a given person. And perceiving, the forming of the world,
Although Arakawa and Gins developed this explicit taxonomy of per-
Arakawa and Gins insist, is the process through which a body becomes a
ception only within the past decade or so, they now regard it as
universal,
body includes having a particular kind. world, one of a
mapping the trajectory of their collaborative person. "Having a
and so it is productive, in
the world
reexamine Arakawa' s paintings in these terms. As established, The body, through its senses and its movements, configures
project, to

of his early paintings he strove to simulate the effect of sensory


or, more precisely, each body generates a person who originates, read co-
in many '

originates, the world."


deprivation, to create a kind of parallel to blindness. In such works,
the
The extreme case of Helen Keller helped to sensitize Arakawa to the
perceptual landing sites are spare and enigmatic; "gaps" must be filled by
deprivation
Architectural landing sites, though often subtle, are interdependence between body, person, and world. With her
imaging landing sites.
of her possible
They exist not only in the rela- of sight and hearing, and the resultant drastic limitation
also very much a factor in these paintings.
to the extent that perceptual landing sites, she inevitably formed a radically different world
tive positionality of the ingredients in Sky no. 2 but also
The lat- from that of most persons. It was in part through her example that
they establish a positionality relative to the body of the beholder.
of The Arakawa first began to contemplate creating "another ground, another
ter is particularly evident in the vertically hung floor
plans Place of
surface on which to exist." In an interview with Hirako Akihiko, he
Saying and Alphabet Skin, and, more forcefully, in the series Paintings for
and explained the significance of this goal:
Closed Eyes, which also dramatically incorporates tactile, kinaesthetic,

proprioceptive landing sites.


By creating a second horizon, or better yet many more, we
can be
By this time, the reader may well be asking, "Why this odd, ungainly
out-of-date moral values or obsolete structures of
7
Why not locus of perception' or 'source of released from the
appellation, landing site'
common sense that accumulate on the ground-surface we normally
stimulation'
?"" The former is certainly more felicitous, and it does seem

32 THE ROAD TO CRITICAL RESEMBLANCES HOUSE


develop potentially more fruitful and environs-this is a more sophisticated variant of the "SAY one THINK two"
exist on. We'd be truly free to
we encountered in The Mechanism of Meaning. Needless to say, this
expansive moral values. Poets and philosophers have said much about that

conflict also generates some disorientation with regard to architei tural


the possibility of such a world. But theirs is a world of words and
ideas,
But more often the perceptual array at Yoro leaves less
without shape or color or weight. Theirs is a fiction, no matter how
landing sites.

7 ''
room for imaging landing sites because perception is too confused, too
wonderful. Painting turns out to be only such a fictional world, too.
disoriented to be filled in. Entering Critical Resemblances House, the \ isitoi

becomes engaged in perceiving not a compound sign of an environment,


Mark Taylor has summarized the project succinctly: "To reform per-
to activate the entire body as a
the world is not but an environment itself-one designed
ception is to transform the architecture of the I. Since
perceptual habit and expec-
constructed by the activity of the subject, the recod- sensing organism-which relentlessly assaults
merely given but is

height- jumbling, and reshuffling


tation. "Juggling,
the body with its land of land-
ing of the I is the recreation of the world."* Painting succeeded in
introduces a person to the process that constitutes being
a
own perceiving, but ing sites
ening the attentive beholder's awareness of his
it
Reversible Destiny-Yoro
Why? A com- person," Arakawa and Gins have declared. Site of
proved a limited vehicle for achieving this ultimate goal.
put "surroundings forward in a manner so con. en
with an actual, constructed one was constructed to
parison of a painted Arakawa landscape have the body be so greatly and
trated that they wax unfamiliar; and to
may help explain why. efforts have to
so persistently thrown off balance that the majority of its

Landscape (2), 1968, is typical of Arakawa's early painting and incorpo-


leaving no energy for the routine
already discussed in paintings of the go entirely towards the righting of itself,

rates some of the features we have familiar or, for that mat-
assembling of the socio-historical matrix of the
dots and labeled by means of words
1960s. Landing sites are indicated by
by empty ter, for the 'being of a person.'""
and arrows; two cases, they remain unnamed, accompanied
in we gradually form and
perhaps signifying Encountering reversible destiny architecture,
we encountered in Sculpting no. 1,
boxes, like those data, out of blank. And while
configure a world out of unfamiliar sense
something unfamiliar or indeterminate
among such familiar objects as a unassertive physical
paintings, even large ones, tend to be
relatively
All but one of these labeled land-
mountain, a tree, a cloud, and so forth.
jaded gaze, the structures of
objects, passively awaiting a too-often
perceivable through vision. Air can be perceived only we are
ing sites, "AIR," are assert themselves aggressively;
reversible destiny architecture
senses, although evidence of it
through olfactory and proprioceptive with them in a certain way, as they
physically coerced into interacting
rustling grass or foliage.
could be detected visually or aurally, as in of our own bodies.
Arakawa spoke? The continually reconfigure our perceptions
of which
And what of those alternate "horizons" at the experience of what
Reversible destinv architecture aims
painting may be unconventional but in
compound significations in the formulation, "blank perceiving.
called, in an earlier
something familiar. Arakawa and Gins
formed into
but two cases they can ultimately be as perceiving that resists
familiariza-
all
of form- This most simply might be defined
may have shared the deaf-blind experience with the
Although the sighted schemata. Here, again, the analogy
of forming a tion through existing image
equivalent,
there was no sensory experience of those
ing a perception for which experience of blindness arises-or,
rather, with the
vast store of
inevitably draw on their own Such patients, Cms
world through language, they who are congenially blind and gain sight later in life.

"image schemata^ The making up


and familiar those sets of preconceptions
visual memories and experiences wrote have "not yet constructed
become
the familiar, even if we
admittedly Manus von Senden
baffling eventually becomes ."
She cited the account of
and Cms visual memory imprint
processas a result. Arakawa exposure reuna]
acutely conscious of the perceptual of their initial
turning he who reported that during the period
proceeds by continually the words of a for-
have acknowledged, "Every person .mages some patients behave
"exactly as in learning
Ut at
unfarmUar into the familiar," and
Arakawa and Gins
that is what ha PP e

now strive for is the subversion of


^7^ ^
"that habitu
t a nd eign language"; objects with which
unTeco^zable by sight. They cannot
they are familiar through
touch are

correlate these sense data


with
a more effective strange realm, as
Reversible destiny architecture
is
deadening process." them; the visual world is a
any sigTsvstem available to
and their encounter with it ,s

Tth^tption of Landscape (2) required the decoding and


^cmo^
coor- yeTun^ulated by signification-it is blank,
Lk perceiving: "What would a
hat be for you if you
all the
~
signs, and a perceiving be unique to itself. With
dination of different types of one before? Let every act of
DesUny-Yoro* Gifu dfasi^df percewmg.
Reversible be left would be b ank
landing much of Site of
sites, preconceptions gone, what could
assault on a defining- nd httle
less than an
This constitutes nothing
function ,n the
human perception that allows us to
understood-feature of
As Gibson has written:
world as we know it.

SSltSlSSiTi -tar we amble down Park Avenue South


The unanswered question of sense perception
constant
i, how an

perceptions ,n everyday
*""*<
life on
tual landing
beyond
si.es: as
Critical Reliances
House to ^jJJJ
the c.ty of G.fu
ma. or human, can obtain

Ridge we look
HAXTHAUSEN 33
SKY

CLOUD

TREE

MOUNTAIN

AIIT-

RIVER

HOUSE~*

MAN

Tu;r i4#vfi+n
>7ir

Arakowa
Landxop* (2) 1968
Acrylic and pencil on ccnvoj. 36 * 48 inch

34 THE ROAD TO CRITICAL RESEMBLANCES HOUSE


'

basis of . . . continually changing sensations. . . . The active observer Parts of this i aj first appeared under thi title Looking u Vrakawa, tn Constructing thi Ptrutvt) Arakawa
Exprrimtntal Works, <:\\\ cal [bkyo Ma ial Museum of Modem Vrt 1991 pp >1 [apam '
;
i

gets invariant perceptions despite varying sensations. He perceives a English I he subtitle ol the presi nl textii taki n from the title ol an \ni awn painting ol

constant object by vision despite changing sensations of light; he per- 1961


|
,,i. m Bebuquin inEinstein WirktSandl ISO 19fb\2adn\ "I ed Hermann Haarmi
ceives a constant object by feel despite changing sensations of pressure; and Klaus Siebenhaai Berlin I il&Wala 1994 p 101

,,M,,. tensive publication on the project to date is Silt oft Madtlim


he perceives the same source of sound despite changing sensations of
ii,. l

Gins Arehtiidural Exptrtmtnti [bkyo MainichiNew papei 1995


loudness in his ears. The hypothesis is that constant perception I: i. vi-.iUi ,i. iniN \i.ik.iu.i .uul i iin\ m. -.in a\ ming the ostensible inevitability of death Onthii

and point Arthur Dantov lin explain to mi thai line, m don't really understand body-mind, w
depends on the ability of the individual to detect the invariants,
I

bringing to awaren thi


don't really know that death rdesuri) Hie bridge [of reversibli destiny] in

that he ordinarily pays no attention whatever to the flux of changing nature of our nature, prepares us for inextinguishabilit) . ei Danto Gin tnd Vrakawa Building
Sensonums." Thi Nation, Octobei IS, 1990 p 131
sensations." BookShop
4 Howard Nemerov, Thi Paint* Drumingin thi Scholar's Houst New fori Phoenix

unpaginated
',
Vrthui Dan iviewol Thi Mechanism ofMtanin In D ttttrlO no I

It is precisely this constancy, these "invariant perceptions," that Longitud. 180 Worl h cal
Septembei ber 1979 p 135 fean-Francois Lyolard

Arakawa and Gins wish to subvert, because what they call the "event-fab- Milan Padiglione d'Arle Contem] nea, 1984 unpaginated andltaloCalx ["he Vrrowlnthe

Mind Septembei 1985 ,p 115


Artforum 24
ric of the world"
" is woven from such invariants. This
1
is why they also
6 Vrakawa versuch einer Annaherung," in Zweite IraJiawa BildirundZtiehnut
Vrmin Zweite,
call Site of Reversible Destiny-Yoro the "Garden of the Self," not
because it 1962-1981, exh. tat. [Munich Stldtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, 1981 pp
" Bra Galeri. Bi ichol
7. Arakawa and Madelini G he] Imil In I
ii I
I
)

is a place for narcissistic contemplation, but because it is intended to


1988] p 5

perceiving."' h Bruce Glaser, "Questions to Stella and Judd," in Gregorj Batteodced Minimal I" 1 Critical And
reconstitute the self by reconfiguring its

(New York E P DultOD, 1968 pp .


I

'i
Michel Sanouillet and Elmei Peterson eds., Th Writa hamp New "" 1 D< P 1989),

only an exercise"-the significance of that statement becomes nol 1947 when was published in
it have seemed a heretical, atrangel) retrograde
in it
lux
"Painting is p [25 I

New ftrk Museum ol Modem Vrl an institi i thi - Bnnlj dedl. ated to the ideolo
,i,, bulletin ol
clearer in the face of reversible destiny architecture. But it is probably what Du hamp aUed i
lht "retinal I
hi. hamp remarked to Pi. rre( labann. Sin. e I lourb. I il

only rhatwa everyon. retinal shudderl Before


equally safe to say that these constructions are themselves ultimately
erroi tn.
believed that painting is addressed to the retina
'"" Oialoguis with
had other functions Idb. relig phi! p il
painting il

an exercise, not an end in themselves. Arakawa and Gins view their


Maral Duchamp, trans Hon Padgett (New York Viking 1971 p 13
hi See Calvin Tomkins, Th Brid* and the Bachelor Fan Mastm
oj th
mediums as means to an end that transcends their respective discourses,
i

ITtoug toneoftheartistadli idln Ibmkini


Rauschmbirg, Cunningham New York Viking, 1965
"aesthetic." Their work is
that lies beyond the normal connotations of the I v [asper Johns has ilsobee irpreted in this waj Duchamp h svei did not acknowl.

and subject he observed thai in spite of his own "ai ittnal efforts,

motivated neither by issues of form nor by issues of content affinity with these "bacheloi \ lab is 1966.
retinal absolute Uculoui U has to
nothing had changed Oui wholecentur) iscompletel) II

matter. Arakawa and Gins have worked and


continue to work in what are been like this ibann. Dialoguts with Moral Duchamp
change it hasn't always ie. I

lental] isingo
often narrowly construed as aesthetic discourses
because these mediums, ,, By u percepl Vrakawa and Gins mean nol ien* bul ilso

akeaadis
rhisii sistent with th. de fjame G Gib vh
tag sense of our sensal

in their concreteness, have proved the


most effective for exploring funda- don between mereU having a senaal ind dete. ting ion g V lingl) he differe

-I ead appropriali fbrmol nergj tnd tl n |


p
issues normally
i

-between the passive receptors thai res]


mental issues that lie outside art and architecture, can search out the Information in stimulus enc,
tual organs, better called systems that
psychology, and cognitive sci- lU <**
regarded as the province of philosophy, mSmesConsidmdashrciptudSystim NewYork Hough Mifflin. I p !

"1 trans iprehendwid id to


painting and archi- "in Thi Oxford English Diet
I
ir,
definition ol pe
efforts, singly and collaboratively,
the first
ence. Through their
aware or conscious o bserv. undei
become
the unsigmfiable, to
have demonstrated a unique capacity to trap H '
Nelson Goodman. Ways ofWorldmoldng [ndiaoapoli
I'
tecture 12
no
* [AmMisUdi kingfo, ArtsMag
operations that are as yet little under- MyP I
I >

stimulate within us processes and


text is taken from a painting of ArakaWs tilled Painlingi I

(November 1969 p
nonetheless raise most insistently the
stood, as yet uncharted, but which duced in Zweite, "Arakawa Versuch einei VnnSherung, p 16

1 and tnd. of Charles Sanders Peirc. TTteicon


what we are and what we can become. threes,
,4 1 refer here to
ultimate philosophical question of rinnfies primarily by virtue ol resembl toitsobjeel by imil g -
.ejurJ fu, ,

J lothers, gut * <* <


d
"nit" .L so diagrams, ma, fl

"Xwi* their object g.


*>< ' '

t^' " T i

*** anguage ipnm """-"


basisof
index,
but by
me third
contiguity,
m.

I
,

ioT.
r**
h

""
tten

'"
"

'"
Ul
"\
,refe
f
b
^^ " '

"
,, ^ Cen s
*- ;""';,;;;"
J"..,,.. ...^.....k....
'

gb. rtl teror. he^ to


;
tjuni, hiri I

rri
HrTlitv

may, I
Press 1931

tofAral arly,
P^^f">" JJ-*
-

*" ;,;;':;:;;;::
,

'EBB
work I-" the imagine
^S=55&
i;

;,;;:;:
Thru-mi
1
:;u,:
Internretants"
,m
eomes d
^ u
Peirci

* w Ibid

^> ^ n

HAXTHAUSEN 35
has been publ.shed in German as "Der
\\ ,lhanis.own, Massachusetts, February 1990, p. 12. The text
familiar Willi the work of Wittgenstein before 19bl.
Macm.llan 1968), p. 50. par. 130.
Arakawa became Buchwald, in the daadgaleric's Arakawa. pp.9
in Frage." trans. Dagmar
I !

h- read the entire ProzeB


hen he read parts of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; in 1964 publ.shed in Arakawa and G.ns,
|apan.
and a number of others used by Arakawa in his paintings are
while sull in v.
IS h,s k-xt
until around 1968. (Convert a I

book for the first bme He did no. read the Philosophical Investigations Not to Die.
Pour ne pas mourir/To
Julv 1991
with the Arakawa, "On My Paintings,' p. 29.
artist,
19.
M) Paintings, p 29 Response (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Universit)
I

50 see Wolfgang Iser. The Act of Reading A Theory of Aesthetic


of the Image. In Bardies, Image. MuSli
IS I borrow these terms from Roland Bardies'* "Rhetoric Press 1980), pp 118-25. I have taken the
term from Iser, who appl.es it to the "synthebzing activit)
ed and trans Heath (New York H.U and Wang. 1977). pp 32-51,
Stephen grasping of a text." Iser * interest in analyzing the
to the
microacbons of reading and
1

Meaning, new fhal is fundamental


Although book format-see Arakawa and G.ns, Ihe Mechanism of
widely known in its Arakawas explorabons of the process of perception
19 .. is
comprehending a text has interesbng parallels with
works, absolutely central to the
Abbeville Press. l988)-this group of mixed-media pi
Vu 51. Gins. "The Process in Question,"
Vrakaw. and Gin, project, has never been
shown in the United Sutes until the present exhibition Mmd [Cambridge, Mass , MIT Press. 1992), p 97. has some rel-
Arakawa s painting More ihnSearle whose The Rediscovery of the
the nund'hody operabons activated bv
Mechanism of Meaning ,s like an adas of an impossibility, we cannot observe our own
evance to the Arakawa and Gins project, holds that this is
of the beholder
blatantly man the elrher paintings, this group
of works demands the active participation
but w,th a much observing
in the paintings of the 1960s and 1970s,
. ,

Here one finds many of the strategies employed observe the consciousness of another, what I
observe is no. h.s subjectivity bu. s.mply h.s
If I try to
mediums many of the panels are assemblages). structure and behavior. Well,
broader range of conscious behavior, his structure, and the causal relabons between
exh cat. (Nagoya: Gallery which we
text, in Shusaku Arakawa: Space as Intention,
The very fact of subjecbvity,
20 Arakawa and G.ns, untided whal about my own inner go.ngs-on' Can I no. observe those'
subjec-
were trying makes such an observation impossible Why? Because where conscious
to observe,
The Scientific Search for the Soul (New York Scnbner's. 1994)
2 LFtari. CndT The Astonishing Hypothesis ts Ity ,s concerned, there is no distinction
between the observation and die thing observed, between
concedes, "It is not completely certain that the binding problem as I
pp 208-09. Even Cnck himself the perception and the object perce.ved. The
model of vision works on the presupposition that there is
around it by some unknown tnck (p. 208n). there is s.mply
have Stated II is a real one. or whether the brain gets a disbnebon between the perception and
the object perce.ved Bu. for "introspection"
"sense of sight" with deference to ihe disbnebon
made by that con-
22 I use the lerm -visual system" rather than no way to make this separation. Any introspection I have of my own conscious state is .tself

Systems, pp 47. 53-54 subjecbvity


Gibson. The Senses Considered as Perceptual scious state the standard model of observabon doesn't work for conscious
Arakawa and G.ns. The Mechanism of Meaning p 102.
I i Arakawa and G.ns, "Tesung the Limits." p 5. and With Arakawa's paintings. I would suggest, we are not observing our own perceiving as
it happens, that

later term a 'fiction of


entity, but what Arakawa and G.ns will percepbon of
>4 However that place, that T." is no s.able
no. our intenbon Our attenbon directed toward the painbng, not loward our own
is
given
perceiving I is configured and in part constituted at any
is
place"-a "ficuon" because Mew the
in their way of reflecting back on operations already
We become aware of the process only retroactively, by
See Ad""-* G^TTie Itattm
j|

moment bv .ts own perccing. wluch connnualb in flux


completed
a Reversible Destiny!." A+U. no 255 (December 1991). p 48
Constructed Plan as Intervening Device (for
53 Arakaw'a and Gins, "Testing the Limits, 5 |

Constructed Plan") platforms


hereafter referred to as "Tentative formal simplicity in 1986. before he introduced
54 Ibid Arakawa began this move toward
Burning Books. New York: East West Cultural Studies 994).
, ,, Helen Keller or Arakawa (Santa Fe:
55 Hans Jonas "The Nobdiry of Sight A
Study in the Phenomenology of the Senses." in Jonas,
Keller, The Story of My Life, ed. John Albert
26. See the letters and reports by Sullivan .ncluded in Helen (New York Harper and Row. 1966). p 154 I am
The Phenomenon of Life Toward a Philosophical Biology
Macv 11902. Garden Doubleday. 1954). pp. 251-320.
City. NY. essay to my attention.
grateful to Peter Petzling for bnnging Jonas's
in ibid., pp. 180-81 1990). p. 29.
J" Keller to Caroline Derby. October 23, 1894, 56. John M. Hull, Touching the Rock An Experience of Blindness (New York: Pantheon.
28 Ibid., p. 119. "The Nobdity of Sight," p 143:
e Jonas.
29. Gins. Helen Keller or Arakawa, p 181 collected and correla.ed in the course of exten-
even the densest distribubon of the point determ.nanls
30 Keller. The Story of My Life, p - supplied by imagination Bu. however many data may be
sive scanning by touch SliU leaves areas to be
of simultaneous presentation, they can never fill
a
31. Ibid., p registered in success.on and entered into the plane
remain blank spaces in between
disclosed to one glance of the eyes. There are bound
to
horizon such as .s
Way Language, trans. Peter D. Hertz (New York: Harper and Row. 1971
(emphasis
33 Martin Heidegger. On resistant objects,
the to
and an unrealized hori^n in depth beyond the proximity of the actually contacted

P Perceiver- Arakawa. Experimental Works.


added)
Untitled. 1969, and Shape no. 2, 1969. illustrated in Constructing the
34 The passage captures the effect of Paintings for Closed Eyes
pp. 140. 145. respectively 58. Hull. Touching the Rock, p 217
Inntbd and Sky (Lamb Stew), both \96&, pp 133-34
illustrated in ibid.,
(that is. by rule or code), there are nevertheless functions of
JS
new word, 59 Although all language signifies symbolically

36. In the early days of her tutonng. Sullivan


would reward Keller with cake when she learned a
example, can serve symbolic functions (for exam-
language mat are .conic or indexical, jus. as icons, for
Pence:
see Keller. The Story of My Life, p 2 5 5
ple allegorical figures) "Close your eyes"
would be an indexical use of language accordmg to
37 Gins. Helen Keller or Arakawa. p more what the hearer is to do in direct experiential or
or less detailed directions for
"Some indices are
38 Ibid Gins uses this metaphor, p. 291 Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peine.
other connection with the dung meant", see Hartshorne and Weiss.
39 Ibid .
p 180.
2 191
Die (Pans Editions de la Difference, 1987), p 46 illusba.ed in Constructing the
40 Arakawa and Gins, Pour ne pas mounr/To No, to (Tl) and 5 (T2). both bded "Detail of
Perceptual Landing Sites."
60 See Charts 4
41 Arakawa and Gins, "Tentanve
Constructed Plan." p. 49. are also reproduced, somewhat more legibly, in
the inscription ,n Perceiver-Arakawa: Experimental Works, p. 254 The charts
\rakawa word in his painting Untitled of 1969, which consists only of
included the
Arakawa and Gins. "Tentative Constructed Plan," pp 3*
4 !
first II
illustrated in Constructing the
have decided to leave this painting completely blank",
stenciled letters, "I Architecture Site of Reversible Destiny (London: Academy Editions, 1994). p. 19
61. Arakawa and Gms,
example, Blank Model/Model Blank. 197b, Texture
Perceiver-Arakawa. Experimental Works, p. 140. See also, for
respectively.
II. 1981-82. illustrated in ibid pp 173, 184, 184-85, who makes a strict distinction
of Point Blank 1977, and Blank
Stations
here Arakawa and G.ns differ from Gibson,
.

in Arakawa. exh. caL (Berlin


h3 It IS worth noting that
43 Dagmar Buchwald, in her translator's note to Gins. "Der ProzeB in Frage," or whal he calls "verbal meaning" and "perceptual
between coded and uncoded stimulus information,
daadgalene. 1990) p 27n Perceptual Systems, p. 244
meaning-, see Gibson. The Senses Considered as
positing-in the sense of holding open rt .1 m C Davidson,
44 \rakawa and Gins have charactenzed blank as a "neutral vrakawa and G.ns. "Person as Site in Respect to a
Tentative Constructed Plan I ,,...
see Arakawa and 64
It is what fills emptiness",
what is there bu. und.fferentia.ed. so .. is no. noth.ng Anywhere (New York Rizzoli. 1992), p. 65 (hereafter referred to as "Person as Site )

ed ,

Gins, untided text, in Space as Intention, p. 1 20


term their theory 65. Ibid., pp 19.
the author. August 5. 1991, what one might
45 As Gins explained in conversation with
conceptualize a given, namely, whal happens in the perception of the "fiction of place." see note 24 above
Arakawa and G.ns. "Tentative Constructed Plan," p 48 On
,s their attempt to understand and
generated by then work conclusions not
67.
work, after the fact-their attempt to draw from the expenence Reversible Destiny, p. 2
constructed 68 Arakawa and G.ns. Architecture SitiS of
does not proceed according to a carefully observes, "Th.s system coop-
about the work itself but about perception Arakawa 53. 59-74 As Gibson
69 G.bson, The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems, pp
theoretical model, the work is always in
advance of the theory 1 have found lha.th, theoretii J text. haptic, taste-smell, and visual] since tl pro
erates, in fact, with all the other perceptual systems [auditory,
intelligible only in light of the expenence of the
work, when they take on the character ol inter ."
become vides a frame of reference for them
pretive descnpUons of the perceptual process is how Mark C Taylor
defines a landing site In "Saving N- an tasighlful chs. us
Demda 70. "Locus of perception"
between "cleaving" or "forming blank" and Jacques
s
Un.vers.ty of Ch.cago Press, 1993) p. 107
46 There are some noteworthy work of Arakawa and Gms in Ins M* (Ch.cago:
similarities
The trace is the s,on of the
concept of the "trace" "The trace .s in fact the absolute ongin of sense in general. 124-39). G.bson uses the term
"sources of stimulation
(this essay also appears in the present volum. pp
difference which opens appearance (,Vi/par<iirr<|
and signification Articulating the living up 7-30
more intelligible than sensible, not more a transpar
,n h.s The Senses Considered as Perceptual
Systems, pp.
.,.,.,n Adorno.
..
nonliving the trace is not more ideal than real, not
71 am indebted for this formulation to Theodore W Adorno". "Zu Subjeckt und Objekt
metaphysics can describe if See Dernda,
I

Suhrkamp Verlag, 1969), p. 152. Adomo's essay has been


trans
ent signification than an opaque energy and no concept of
Stichworte: Kntische Modelle 2 (Frankfurt
(Baltimore Johns Hopkins University Press, 197b),
OfGrammalology. trans Gayatn Chakravorty Sp.vak
lated into English as "Subject and Object," in
Andrew Arato and Like Gerhardt, ed,, The Essential
63 on differance -Differance is the formabon of form"
p. 65.. see also p. Frankfurt School Reader (New York: Unzen Books, 1978)
presented al Williams College.
OS, "The Process in Question," unpubl.shed manuscript of a paper

36 THE ROAD TO CRITICAL RESEMBLANCES HOUSE


trie, /'" Rediscovery of the Mind, <pp. 70, 95
\iakawa and Gins, "Person as Site," p >8

,i [bid IH
i>

7.1 Interview with Hirako Akihiko, cited in Akihiko, ed.. Site / Reversible Destmy-Yoro Park. Gifu,

ii.his D. Robson (Gifu: Gifu Prefecture Park and Nature Association, 1995), p. 12

I
I
tyloi Volt |> l')K

77 I derive the term "image ii hemeta" from Mark Johnson Thi Body m tlu Mmd The Bodily Basis o) Weaning,

Imagination, and Reason (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1987), p 29 Johnson defines an image
schema as "a recumng, dynamic pattern of our perceptual interactions and motor programs that gives

coherence and structure to our experience" (p xiv) Image schemata "operate at one level of generality

and abstrai tion above concrete, rich images. A schema consists of a small number
of parts and relations,

by virtue of which it can structure indefinitely many perceptions, images, and events In sum, image
schemata operate at a level of mental organization that falls between abstract proposiuonal structures, on
the one side, and particular concrete images on the other" (p. 29). Arakawa and Gins adopt Johnson's
concept in their texts "Person as Site," pp 60-61, and Architecture Sites ofRevmibU Destiny, p
7K Arakawa and Gins. Architecture Sites ofReirrsihl, Destiny, p B

photographs and plan, see Akihiko, ed., Site ofReversiblt Destiny-Yon Park, Gifu pp 1,
10-11
i

Foi aerial
Architecture Sites of Reversible Destiny, H, 2
HO Arakawa and Gins, pp I.

\~
'tins, "The Process ", '
luestion," pp 16

82. Ibid.. |. i'^

83. Gibson, The Senses Considn.d


as Perceptual Systems, p I

ikawa .md Gins, Architecture. Sites of Reversible Destiny, pp 19 20

B5 S,e Site of Reversible Destiny-Yoro Arakawa + Madeline Gins Architectural Experiment*, p 10

1987-
Determining Body no. 3
Diplych ocrylic on convo>,
U4 6 inch,

photograph*,
eoch ponel, romp ocrylic,
three poneU.
Ploxiglov ond plywood,

48 48 inches eoch

HAXTHAUSEN 37
EARLY
WORKS
These early v4> by Aroka^-o prefigure Arolowo and
Madeline Gins s current studies ol Irie architectural body
facing pog*
Arokowo
Bottomless I (SOCIOUS) 1962-63
ileel. steel esh, steel wire, string,
ond ihreod,
Acrylic ponel, cloth, mirror 1

41 100 n 100 inches

Arakawo
Bottomless II (Communal Body), 1963
mesh, steel v re, string, ond threod,
Acrylic ponel, cloth, mirror, steel, steel

41 98 * 98 inches

ARAKAWA 39
A/okowo
Botlomlejs III (Communal Rody), 1963-64
Clo*. Wt. mirrof. ileel. >eel meih, Jled wire, itring. ond threod.

43 > 144" 124 inches

40 EARLY WORKS
Arolcowo
Untitled. 1960-61
Pencil on convoi, 48 x 72 inches

ARAKAWA 41
fEdianumi rf Jtaung Neuih
Vibratory Disappearance

No More Piss* Reading


altfe

VISUAL ILLITERACY WIPED OUT BY THE


MECHANISM OF MEANING

MIDWEST |A -a. o. U. a

HOMELESS BECOME INVISIBLE AND TAKE OVER THE Inwork by Arakawa


and Madeline Gins
Geometry is ly
" f- - -
human capabilities
ddeital neighbor
toddeitai nil oi
see
spre ad out for all to
blank

Ha aa> pui a
-
aaj >

^S.aVa^.a..^
W~a <aiaa| (E~1
a
" a, oa rf a>k a. a~
pa 1 Ta. aaal a; . art- a" Fa.
! rri(naol*ft tat aaf ***

:. lajaa. mi tOT"* pi~-a,

art !. *>* lata*"

SAYOSCTMMKTWO

"i^-^r |
rrgEEES; DEATH IS DYING!
-DEATH IS DEAD!

a. aa ro. 0. Ca
Vicarious Dinners
Duply Inw mm) easy

Other Ways to-Enter - nr -^ J


""-" ">
li2i*"'
'"'^Jli

'"". aa aask. 1

Fro ac fanta-a* - W"


a- ,4roU b, Maid Caoi
.laUVo-.'^ii-^i. . ' ."* -***. 1'*' i_
,-,
'"*!!!___ Isrir'ur?
"* "
The Mechanism of Meaning News 1990 (vngle iUM|
. 'i,"

Newjpnnl. 21 H 14 inchej
To Think,
To Invent, To Be Invented
Reflections on

F L.RUSH The Mechanism


of Meaning

To become different subjects, indeed different beings; to call down fate in THEORETICAL COMMITMENTS
Arakawa and The fundamental task of any theory of meaning, as Paul Grice has put it,
order to remake it as art-this is the stated project of

Madeline Gins. In order to effect this transformation. The Mechanism of is to account for what makes some physical objects or events-for
instance, spoken words or written signs-essentially different from other
Meaning, 1963-73, 1996 (see pp. 54-111), tacitly appeals to a constellation
may be characterized in physical phenomena, such as the sound of thunder or a train whistle. No
of views concerning the nature of meaning that
"holistic" or as entailments of a holist view concerning purely physical fact can possess a significance that is the product of an
broad stroke as
from resting with a holist description of meaning, The intent that it be recognized as the product of that intent-which is to say,
meaning. But far
no purely physical fact can possess "meaning" in the sense essential to
Mechanism of Meaning radicalizes and extends such an account norma-
anticipate. The work communication and thought.
tively in ways that holist accounts standardly do not
Beyond accepting this baseline desideratum for any theory of meaning,
submits for our consideration, indeed, asserts the radical proposal that
normative frame-
(among accounts vary as to the question of what constitutes the
even our most fundamental and firmly held concepts and beliefs
of what work within which language functions. In general, two schools of thought
them, whatever beliefs underwrite our current understanding
have developed in this century on this issue. One group of thinkers holds
unchangeable features of our conceptual interactions with
seem to be the
to the traditional view that meaning is conferred on utterances and
ought be revised
the world) are de facto subject to revision and, indeed, us call this
by an individual speaker's meaning or intent: let
to certain aims. Even more exceptional is the claim of Arakawa inscriptions
according
group the "atomists." Atomism so-defined includes among its ranks
and Gins about the way in which we alter our conceptual and perceptual
Dummett and Jerry Fodor. Atomism is
thinkers as diverse as Michael
structures. The claim is that we reorder our conceptual and perceptual
of linguistic item
compatible with either one of two views about what sort
apparatus, at least in part, by recorrelating our physical interactions with
may be said to be the ultimate bearer of meaning. One
possibility is that
the world; the presupposition is that there is such a close causal relation-
items. The view
dispositions to behave that words or singular terms are linguistically self-sufficient
ship between concepts and bodily states and general linguistic con-
conceptual structure. that terms have meaning abstracted from any more
changes in physical interactions will be changes in Locke in the seventeenth century. [1 is
antireductionist text is one
dating back at least to
expressly
This is a radical thesis, made no less so by the now as a general account of meaning, in favoi
the relationship of the almost universally rejected
respect to
stance that Arakawa and Gins take with conception of meaning, developed by
of the so-called "compositional"
mental and the physical. argued that sentences are the smallest
some of the the- the logician Gottlob Frege, who
what follows, shall be concerned to make explicit
sen-
In the meanings of words within a
I
unit of linguistic significance-that
oretical presuppositions that underwrite
The Mechanism of Meaning and sit-
the sentence. Directly
the tence are a function of their semantic roles in
uate them background of philosophical developments in
against a theory of meaning holds that the
opposed to atomism, holism in the
important to be aware that the work
theory of meaning. In doing so, it is
the entire language or theoi J
early 1960s, a time meanings of terms or concepts depend on
ofArakawa and Gins on these issues dates back to the To the extent that holism is seen simply as the
philosophical ,n which they are situated.
predating or, in some cases, concurrent with many of the language or
their meanings from their roles in the
the work ot view that signs derive
treatments of the concerns will be discussing. Accordingly,
I
like Frege's account of mean-
sigmficatory system as a whole, holism is,
to these philosophi-
Arakawa and Gins should be seen as complementary compositional; holism is but an extension
of the relevant composi-
The work of ing,
cal and not simply reliant upon them.
developments from sentence to the entire language.
certainly the tional context
and
quite different ways m
is
Arakawa and Gins stands as arguably the earliest,
Now meaning holism has developed ,n two
as that term has been
most sustained, artistic meditation on "meaning," contemporary' philosophy of language, both in
reaction to neo-Kant.un
1

discourse.
explicated in contemporary philosophical

43
capacity to follow a
One line of descent can be (and misuse) of language (more generally, the very
language.
v iews on the nature and function of nature of language a primitive
rule) requires that we accord the public
Van Orman Quine's radical empiricist critique of logi-
traced to Willard
that a status and not view it as something to be explained by adverting to pri-
that of Rudolf Carnap) Quine argued
cal ponih ism (primarily not altogether clear that
interconnected results that are vate meaningful mental states. Although it is
thoroughgoing empiricism must have four for the social as is
Wittgenstein advocated as strong a constitutive role
at odds with commonly held
views about the nature of theories, systems,
him, such an approach is characteristic of those sec-
and sen- sometimes argued for
bod\ oi sentences). First, terms
or languages (any systematic address the problem of rule-
the context of the the- tions of the Philosophical Investigations that
tences^ only have meaning when considered in
following and the impossibility of a private language.
Although the recog-
no one concept or term in any
ory or language as a whole.' Second, we begin with the
immune to nition that linguistic meaning can only be explained if
or concepts)
theorv (or any specifiable class of such terms
is

notion that language is transcendental to a speaker's individual meaning


includes even those concepts,
revision through testing of hypotheses. This early twentieth-century phi-
most central to our thought isoften identified with the "linguistic turn" in
sentences, and beliefs that we hold to be the been a prominent feature of
even losophy, the "primacy of the public" has
be inviolable because of their centrality);
of the world land hold to modern inception in the
no one reflection on the nature of language since its
sacrosanct. Third, there is
the fundamental laws of logic are not
including the totality of evi- time of Herder.
u ay map any
to given body of evidence,
Now, one possible outcome of holist accounts of meaning that accords
dence. That is, ways to conceive the world-our theories of it-are radi- may
groups primary normative force is that different languages
linguistic
cally underdetermined by evidence. Thus, while truth in a theory or thought that are so
rules internal to the the- bethought to reflect "conceptual schemes," systems of
language is a question internal to the semantic
different they confer meanings on their
terms that are unique to each sys-
o/a theory is a solely pragmatic concern.' There is no rule
ory, the truth being fully com-
tem and that are both untranslatable and incapable of
or set of rules neutral to by which we can adjudicate the truest
all theories
That is, given
which the world must be taken prehended by the linguistic occupants of other schemes.
one. Fourth, since there is no one way in always indeterminate and always
that translation between languages is
(there are many equally good rival
theories of it) and because the mean-
a "home scheme," it might be argued
proceeds from the perspective of
any one of those theories will be "theory bound"
in the
ings of terms in and
of Quine's revolution is a view of languages
that the final deliverance
theoretical roles, there will be no
sense that they are functions of their This possibility- received
language to those in systems of thought that are incommensurate.
pregiven mapping of the meanings of terms in one the meaning of scientific
quite a bit of attention in literature devoted to
another. This last point but a gloss of Quine's classic account of the
is
terms, and the notion that theories and languages are hermetically sealed
translation. When the evidence is a target
7 language or
indeterminacy of way conceive not only
systems of thought was, for a time, a powerful
to
behavior to be interpreted, that language can be translated in any num- 10
"foreign" cultures.
coherent rendering of its of language but of symbolic practices in
ber of ways compatible with a systematically conceptual schemes could be
Obviously, the idea that, in principle,
of meaning proper
meanings. This last point is extended into the theory understanding of meaning on a
immune to translation endangers any
interpretation, in which mean-
by Donald Davidson's account of radical a central task of a theory of meaning
general Quinean model, since it is
of the field linguist encounter-
ing in general is understood on the model possible. The theoretical device
interpretation available to him that it account for how communication is

ing verbal behavior with the only tools of meaning translation: the very
deployed by the Quinean to account for is
Importing this model to
or her-tools relative to his or her own language." incommensurability
view that we each idea that incommensurability attacks. But the
speakers of the "same" language, we arrive at the
hypothesis had its own problems and can be
shown wanting on several
speak an idiolect that is only different in degree from what we consider to
generally affects any rela-
accounts. One problem with the view-which
be foreign languages. assertion-is that the relativistic
complement to tivistic thesis that parades itself as an
meaning holistic is a natural
The view that linguistic is
particular conceptual
has been hugely influential claim cannot be asserted except from within a
yet another set of views about meaning that
be a global statement. Another
made reference already-the views that framework and thus cannot aspire to
and to which I have implicitly much
problem that incommensurabalists tend to expect altogether too
of linguistic com- is
meaning a function of social context and the product
is a "perfect
from seeming to equate that activity with getting
suggests the other. If we translation,
munities. It is easy to see why one set of views But most important, as
read" on a culture as if one were a member of it.
constitutive matrix
view meaning holistically-and thus view the relevant discrete conceptual
meaning Davidson demonstrates, the view that there are
for meaning be a language or theory as a whole-the idea that
to
the form of cognition or
what Ludwig Wittgenstein called "forms schemes rests on an untenable dualism between
is at least partially constituted by and the object of
are spoken by com- language (what we bring to our interactions with nature)
of follows from the recognition that languages
life"
that cognition, that is, between scheme and content." Put suc-
a dualism
munities of persons who share certain behaviors and
concepts.
cinctly, there can be no viable distinction
between scheme and content
language has been dic-
Historically, recognition of the public nature of
incommensurability of
of language. Use (and hence no fundamental problem about the
tated by the of accounting for the normativity
necessity'

44 TO THINK. TO INVENT, TO BE INVENTED


languages and no real sense to the notion of a conceptual scheme) notion of a closed system so important to structuralist conceptions of lan-

because what it is to be an object of a concept is always already a func- guage. The very idea of a language composed of such entities-ones with

tion of interpretation. Interpretation, so to speak, goes "all the way no positive semantic properties-is untenable, and the very idea of a lan-
down"; there is no sense to the notion of a predescriptive object of guage (rather than just a contingent coordination of intersecting idiolects)

thought" becomes suspect.

Let us now turn to the second sort of reaction to neo-Kantian views on

meaning-a reaction, centered in France, that radicalized received struc- COGNITIVE TRANSFORMATION

turalist views on the purported systematic nature of language. The Mechanism of Meaning pins a decidedly poststructuralist, post-

Structuralism itself rests on holist views of language, but does not exhibit Quinean/ Davidsonian understanding of meaning with a radical concep-
the systematicity of a theory or tion of the possibility of art to change human nature. Gins and Aiakawa
Quinean and Davidsonian modesty about
incorporate a viable theory of reference. Because of embrace the notion that no system of meaning can be closed or stable
language, nor does it

and that the truth of any one way of taking the world cannot be canoni
largely phenomenological presuppositions regarding the philosophical
cally established. Conceptual schemes, theories, ways to take the world
appropriateness of an inclusion of reference into a theory of meaning,
based on the work are one and all fungible, depending on our perceived purposes, desires,
what has come to be known as "structural linguistics,"
conceptual systems as and prejudices. Even those cognitive structures that we now consider so
of Ferdinand de Saussure, methodologically treats
fundamental to our way of thinking (in fact, to any way of thinking) are
self-contained artifacts, held together by the coherence of the set of their
structure of
argued holistically that it is potentially subject to change or even overthrow; even the
member terms. In broad stroke, structuralists
the archetypical case of cognitive
the meaning of the perceptual awareness, often considered
the position of the sign in a structure that determines
on the sign's not mean- passivity, may be the subject of our conceptual intervention." And, since
sign. Thus, it is argued, a sign's meaning depends
Arakawa and Gins also accept that mental states are embodied and their
That the difference
ing everything or anything else in the system.
is,
plasticity of mind means plasticity of
content a result of this embodiment,
between a sign and other signs or groups of signs in a particular system is
the brain upon which
and determines what means to be body. Both the mental and the physical structure of
constitutive of the meaning of a sign it
malleable.
Being in a particular place in a system mental states supervene are, as far as we can tell, completely
in a particular place in the system.
The Mechanism of Meaning is intended to shape our cognitive apparatus
in terms of their dif-
isprecisely being related meaningfully to other signs too strong, is
(what Arakawa and Gins call "mind-brain") or, if this is
ferences." Accordingly, the structuralist is set upon the idea (often attrib-
apparatus mighi be
them what we might call a intended to suggest ways in which our cognitive
uted to Leibniz) that all signs carry with
be liberated from the tyranny of "given" modes of
reconfigured-might
consisting in the meanings of all signs not the
sign
"meaning penumbra," accomplished by localizing and
thought. Part of the restructuring must be
in question.
in question, but as related to the sign subjectivity. However, such com-
selecting modes of social mediation of
Let us see more particularly what this view of the constitution of mean-
Inescapable as so. ietal
Differences are what a sign is not,
munal influence must not be accepted uncritically.
ings entails in the theory of meaning. cognitive responsibility of
mediation of meaning and life mas be, it is the
but, as a feature of the structuralist
view on meaning, they must be part of modes of thought, to
only members of the community to challenge received
thesign-what Jacques Derrida called "traces." But, if a sign can
accept them, we accept them at all, critically. My invocation ol the term
turn, also mean if

mean difference with other signs that, in


in terms of its
out of place in a discussion of this woi
I

problem. What Antique" may seem somewhat


we are presented with a
only in terms of their differences,
illicitly recalling an Enlightenment model of reflection that does not chum
on this account, except other differences?
a difference a difference and Gins insist upon. But the
have the transformative power Arakawa
is of,
to
notion of fixity, otherwise
The verv idea of difference presupposes some function of critical intelligence need
not be limited to this on( epuon. .

different from another. In other


itmakes no sense to say that one thing is of critique, I would argue, can
and must continue to play
soley by their difference
And the notion
words, though signs are said to be constituted which theory and praxis are conceived
a significant role in any thought in
signs in a system, we must
presuppose the idea of a sign that
from other
We as being intimately connected.
On this expanded model of criticism, the
system of differences in place. bes, Kantian/
isnot so constituted in order to get a Arakawa and Gins qualifies as critique in the
project of
other than the idea of structure. mechanisms of
are left with no center to the system Hegelian sense, that is, as self-critique. Because we are all

variable, disappears since


The notion of sign as a mere placeholder, or meaning, we become self-aware
while doing the exercises contained
in
essentially a
the place holds is merely a concatenation of differences: work, and in a very real sense, we create our-
the panels comprising the
it

(outfitted with requisite


Heideg^genan
nonplace. This picture of language selves anew.
questions of meaning taken
approach to posture does not mean
trappings) was a staple of the requires us to assume a critical
The fact that it

led by Dernda, that organized themselves correctly understood as a series


by the group of theorists,
that The Mechanism oj Meaningis
however,
to note that this post- works
around the publication Tel Quel. But it is important
to the work-one taken by many to
very of arguments. This approach
structuralist understanding of
meaning renders problematic the

RUSH 45
issue that has been dealt with philosophically in a deep way is inherently
thatmight be loosely termed "conceptual arf-risks submerging the ine-
subdivi- suspect. But questions remain: even if we accept that art can contribute to
hm. nable artistic nature of the work. The exercises in the various
ways an understanding of the issue of meaning, (1) what is it about art that
sions call upon us to experience being mechanisms of meaning in
makes especially suited to such an analysis, and (2) what does the fact
that the experience of arguments (even good ones) cannot penetrate. For it

a fact) that art of a certain type can contribute to an understanding


instance, many of the panels require physical interaction. Some panels (if it is

of the nature of meaning in ways not currently open to philosophy say


appeal to changes in "mood" and others to our sense of humor. Although
us. their force as about the nature of meaning?
arguments can be funny or ironic, can anger or elate
The key to seeing Arakawa and Gins's answer to both these questions
arguments does not rest on such effects. Rather than proving a hypothesis
ways of the notion that meaning-conferring activity is constructive activity. As
about the plasticity of mental states, Arakawa and Gins are after is

has an essential we have seen, on the holistic account, meanings mean in virtue of struc-
experiencing actual changes, and it is their view that art
1'
ture-a structure that is fungible between cultures and languages, one
role to pla\ in bringing about this shift in self-understanding.
which is constantly changing and one in which revision can occur, at least

in principle, at any level. How do such structures arise? How do they


WHY ART?
claimed essential change? In short, how do they subsist? Regardless of what view one has
Perhaps we should pause to take a closer look at the

on the nature of meaning-a role, after all. about the fundamental generating force responsible for the structure in
role for art in the reflection
question-whether be a matter of social and historical constitution or
that is generally thought to lie more in the province of philosophy. No it

one in which individuals can institute changes immediately-some appeal


dispute is more ancient, nor more tendentious, than that of the relation-
must be made to the idea that meaning-conferring structures are con-
ship of art to philosophy. Since the time of Aristophanes and
Plato, art
structions, that they are not just given, so to speak, as a fact
of being bio-
and spiritual currency
and philosophy have competed for the intellectual
methodology. logical organisms in environments (although the fact that we relate to
of the age, each claiming a superiority for itself and its

environments in nonconceptual ways and how we so relate to the envi-


However, any conception of the nature of the relationship of art to phi-
even conflicting, ronment may prove quite important to an understanding of meaning).
losophy as one that resides in essentially differing,
Now, though certainly the case that philosophical arguments and
methodologies particular to each approach is imperfect in at least two
it is

reflections may change the world-or at least the view of the world taken
crucial aspects: First, this formulation assumes that art and
philosophy

ways that are exclusively native to each endeavor. by individuals who are both convinced by the argument and act on the
reflect on the world in
basis of the truths the argument in question is thought to
deliver up-the
But the idea that the pursuits of the philosopher and the artist are so
dis-
philosophical
ways idea that by being convinced of the correctness of a
similar that their activities would involve commitments to
divergent
ordinarily
Indeed, one account we are also constructing meaning is one that does not
of investigating and representing the world is questionable.
tradition
present philosophical and literary cul- play much of a role in philosophy, at least not in a philosophical
might say, at least in light of the
philosophy positively ret- still wary of Hegel.
ture, that such a view of the relation of art to is

there In contrast, even if our views on artistic production have forever left
rograde. Nonetheless, the attitude in philosophical circles that
is,

behind the rich and varied legacy offered by the notion of genius as the
crudely speaking, a methodology native to philosophy that artistic

ever, approximates remains a commonplace. Second,


essence of a successful production (and product), it is still the case, I
endeavor rarely, if
and,
certainly false view-that philosophy as such and art- wager, that we view art-making as a paradigm case of construction
the view-an almost
Walter
making have differing methodologies requires that we
as such
treat both by implication, of meaning-conferral. For even though what
Benjamin famously referred to as the "aura" of artworks (indeed, of the
philosophy and the production of art objects as fields over which we can
world, in his estimation) has been trounced into nothingness,
art is still
specify univocal methodological standards.
made, that recognized as a category of things, even though it may be
Even admonitions against quick and easy bifurcation of
in the face of
is, is

part of that categorization that the mere "thingness" of such work is their
art-making and philosophizing, one is still apt to insist that the approach
and expression, especially involving some- theme."
ofthe artist to representation
The Mechanism of Meaning takes its place
The unique way in which
thing like the question of meaning, cannot be entirely isomorphic
with
among the works we situate in the art world is that it reflects upon mean-
that of philosophy. Indeed, the insistence of Arakawa and Gins that their

meaning ing and is, at the same time, in virtue of this reflection, a vehicle for
constructions are uniquely suited to revealing the nature of
meaning-change. As a construction, the work consists in exercises. The
trades upon the idea that there is at least something that their art can do
term "exercises" here is no throwaway. The work is envisioned as an invi-
present
that philosophical analysis (at least, philosophical analysis in
its

tation for interaction in a series of exercises, each


of which, in a different
state) no doubt generally true that there are de
cannot. So, while it is

way, supposed to reveal to us, the participants, how meaning happens.


and philosophical approaches, such an admis-
facto differences in artistic
is

an And supposed to reveal this through our doing the work. The collab-
sion need not be accompanied by the view that artistic treatment of
it is

46 TO THINK. TO INVENT. TO BE INVENTED


oralive aspect, implied in almost any artwork worth contemplation, is itively ascertained; the very nature of the work weighs heavily against dis

here expressed and an irreducible element in the work. In fact, if it is per- covering or attempting to establish definitive purposes for the exercises,

missible to speak this way at all, collaboration is its essence. The the panels they comprise, or the subdivisions of the work. Nevertheless,

Mechanism of Meaning is a "meaning-full" construction that constructs an certain general observations are possible: The work is divided into

analysis of meaning by inciting us to construct meanings along the lines sixteen subdivisions. Of the sixteen, it seems to me thai the first,

Neutralization of Subjectivity, occupies a special place. Neutralization oj


of the exercises. What is constructed here is meaning. Who is doing the 7.
/.

What the construction is about is ourselves constructing Subjectivity is a clearinghouse for the mind; it is an attempt to neutralize
constructing is us.

and receptors. accepted or received modes of interaction with the world in order that we
ourselves as sites for meaning, that is, as meaning-initiators

that the work's contribution to be readied for the task of restructuring those modes. Though there is in
It is the contention of Arakawa and Gins
may be presently in the work an ongoing dialogue with Zen Buddhist conceptions of cancella-
an understanding of meaning, a contribution that art

meaning as inven- tion of subjectivity,


1
" neutralization of subjectivity need not, it seems to
a better position to make than philosophy, is to reveal

me, entail a renunciation of subjectivity in general, just an attempted


tion through self-invention. And to those who would say that that is all

clearing of generally accepted ways that we as subjects react and interact


very well and good but has little to do with the current debate on the
with the environment. Methodologically, there is a sense in which the
nature of meaning, Arakawa and Gins would quite probably urge
that the
neutralization of subjectivity is no different than Edmund Husserl's (oi
terms of the debate should be broadened.
state in the reflec- academic scepticism's) conception of the suspension of judgment, or
Another factor puts art in a somewhat advantaged
convic- we put modes of subjectivity out of the analysis for purposes of
epoche\
tion on meaning. As mentioned above, it is Arakawa and Gins's
the exercises, neither affirming nor denying
particular ways of taking the
changes
tion and hope that reflection on the nature of meaning prompts suspend belie!
ot world as having ultimate validity."' To be neutralized is to
in that nature. The importance of the concept of construction (that is,

about the veracity of any conception of subjectivity


we might have
fundamental in this regard. As a practical matter, how
self-construction) is
brought with us to the work. The activity of neutralization of subjectivHy
is this change to take place? Arakawa and Gins make use of a wide reper-
to gainful participation in the other
exercises.
many of which are is a condition precedent
toire of tropes, puns, riddles, and gambits to incite us,
The next fifteen subdivisions elicit responses and invite conceptual and
"philosophical" in a relatively straightforward sense.
But some of the
can be entered in any
contained in The Mechanism of perceptual reconfiguration in a variety of ways and
incitements to change, particularly ones
cognitive awareness for our
structure. order. Each attempts to present a feature of
Meaning, do not conform to an argumentative activities associated with alt. n
wholesale change that philoso- contemplation by having us perform basic
Art has a recent history of attempting
description. For instance, in the third
panel (see
of Dada and, to a Hon, perception,' and
phy for the most part lacks-and here I am speaking
and ftansfertnce,
of subdivision 2. Localization
Dada identifies the object to p. 59, fig. 2.3; detail, p. 48)
lesser extent, Surrealism.^ For the most part,
which three geometrical identical pairs of two-
we find an exercise in
what can count as art. This is a
be changed as a certain attitude toward one set directly above the other.
dimensional figures are positioned
special instance of meaning-change,
involving a limited sphere of art-his-
Printed inside the first two figures of the lower row-from left to right, a
lacks the global ambition of
torical and ontological concepts, and thus statements "THIS CIRCLE is BLANK," and
work points to circle and triangle-we find the
Arakawa and Gins's work. And to the extent that their referring
BLANK," while a similar statement, this time
"THIS TRIANGLE IS
future cognirive life discern.bly better than the one
and recommends a the square occupying the top
row. This is a

that is altogether to the square, is printed in


we now lead, there a Utopian element to their work
is designation and that of construing
intended to meditation on the cognitive activity of
lacking in Dada. Nevertheless, several of the techniques (that is, as blank). Each
geometric fig-
something as without designation
in Dada. For instance one
induce meaning-change find their antecedents statement concerning being blank and
ure is paired with one lacking the
which Arakawa and Gins rely on each
should not overlook the great extent to the statement, is blank. But figure
thus in the sense that it is lacking
in nonsense, as a transforma-
humor, and further, on the humor inherent is also designated as a
blank by that
expense that contains a written statement
Humor to a large degree at the
generally operates it cannot
tive element. though, in the sense that it contains something,
very statement,
the artists' use of humor
exploits this pair of
each
of our cognitive expectations, and even more complex because
be blank But matters are made
displacement-effect is but one exam- question of
disruptive effect. But humor and its
figures "connected" by bidirectional arrows,
is
raising the
deployed ,n order to shatter our is actually meant
to ascribe the
ple of a family of like tropes that are whether the statement within a figure
seems the most invit-
conceptual vessels tout a coup. opposing figure. This
property of being blank to the
set of figures since we
now have being said of
it
ing interpretation of each
those without writing m them)
that they
SOME APPLICATIONS .
seemingly blank figures (that is,
to reconfigure our
m,nd-bra,n is by domg the exer- figures to debate
taking the arrows between
the
Since the way we are are indeed blank. But
important to consider what the only apparently the most
satisfac-
cises in The Mechanism of Meaning,
it is
designation is
a relation of ascription or
This can by no means be defin-
work's structure holds for the participant.

RUSH 47
each seems to have been erased, although a faint
remnant
right corner of
preexisting line describing the enclosure is apparent
on closer
of the
inspection. In the rectangle on the left is the sentence fragment, "If this

zone is ambiguous," which continued in the other rectangle as, "This


is

is the statement
one is twice as ambiguous." Printed under both figures

"THEN THE ENTIRE AREA IS AT LEAST TEN TIMES AS AMBIGUOUS." The


entire area of the rectangles and the caption
beneath them is, in turn,

whose perimeter is described by a


enclosed in a larger single rectangle
Now, the semantic concept "ambiguity" is generally taken to
dotted line.

have the following feature: something is ambiguous because two or more


offered for Ambiguity presup-
fairly settled meanings can be equally
it.

poses that multiple possible interpretations of one


and the same word,
context in order to settle
phrase, or event are available, and we consult
before us, it is ambiguous
on which interpretation is correct/" In the case
considered a
whether we are dealing with zones at all. In order to be
figure can have an area
zone, a thing must have area and no geometric
unless it is a closed figure. But whether these are closed figures or not is

and Transference ponel 3 (derail)


The Mechanism of Meaning, 2. Localization

ambiguous. We have an erasure, not merely the absence of closure.


not a line or there is a
There was once a line, now either (1) there is (2)

to the fact that what we have before us is the


from state- faint line. All this amounts
ton interpretation if the arrows are unidirectional, proceeding
arrows are bidirectional, mean- simultaneous representation of zone and nonzone.
ment to referent. As stated, however, the
by offering
also to be taken in some sense to
Arakawa and Gins further play on the notion of ambiguity
ing that the figures without writing are admit of quantitative distinction by
and perhaps themselves. Refer the possibility that ambiguity might
refer to the blankness of the other figures "this one is twice as
exemplifying rather than the statement that "if this zone is ambiguous"
how? One might ask, do they perhaps refer by idea that one thing is more obscure or more
confused
medita- ambiguous." The
stating the property question? This mind-bender, nothing but a
m does not admit
than another is not remarkable; the concept of ambiguity
that the relation is
tion on the concept of designation, demonstrates ambiguity not a quantita-
ol degrees in this sense. More particularly, is

dependent on localizing one sense of the relation between


the figures.
degreed concept; it makes no sense to say that one thing is twice as
tively
Such an exercise calls for us to contemplate coeval possibilities. In which more than one
ambiguous as another, since ambiguity is a state in
we are made aware that any locality within
2. Localization and Transference,
between interpreta-
interpretation of a thing is possible and a decision
meaning-confernng entailments
a structure focuses meaning by making there are three rather
problematic. Ambiguity does not increase if
Shifts in locality shift mean- tions is
between other localities more or less remote. may
rival interpretations, although
disentangling the ambiguity
of any sign is a function of than two
ing (or degrees of it). That is, the significance former instance (but that is not
involve more conceptual work in the
limitation by localization. Moreover, any localization presupposes
the case that saying that one zone
its is twice
Shifts in locality summon really clear). And it certainly is
transference of other signs and their localities. precise mathematical operation (mul-
of interpretative as ambiguous as another invokes a
new contexts for meaning and show the context-flux that involves imprecision of mean-
tiplication) in the service of a concept
Since structures are nothing but a sum of localities, shifts in local-
activity. zone, and ambiguity is brought
ing This tension between measurement,
ity can adumbrate the general fungibility of structure. both zones: "THEN THE ENTIRE
Ambiguous Zones. home in the caption appearing under
Let me turn now to the subdivision 3. Presentation of
AREA IS
AMBIGUOUS." Read as a continuation of
AT LEAST TEN TIMES AS
fact that every meaning (even that
These exercises and panels present the zones, the caption intensifies the
While only thematically the statement appearing inside the two
of ambiguity) is in a crucial sense ambiguous. in the panel constitutes a "for-
ambiguity neverthe- sense in which, taken together, the writing
present when meaning is reflectively considered, is,
the notion of the definite
Ambiguity-the zone of alter- mula," thereby deepening the conflict between
less, necessary for any instance of meaning. formula, as I am calling it,
and the indefinite (although the final bit of the
possibilities, relative to a purported
actuality-is what calls our
nate
contains a qualification of just how many times more ambiguous the
systematically eludes com-
attention to the interstices of meaning, what not clear from the final
outer zone than the inner ones. Moreover, it is

way sublime, ambiguity is what Arakawa and Cms


is
prehension. In ambiguous
whether the outer zone is ten times more
its

panel (see p. 61, rider to the formula


refer to as "blank." The first exercise in the opening they are not zones cor-
than the left zone, right zone, or both zones (or, if
thought-experiment.
fig. 3.1) of this subdivision consists of the following than nothing). All of this is
rectly so-called, ten times more
ambiguous
side by side. The upper
Two rectangles, again geometrically identical, sit

48 TO THINK, TO INVENT, TO BE INVENTED


.

in this way (or of a crack as a line) is to substitute lor the category of pres-

ence that of absence; it is to split meaning along this line.

The second phrase we encounter in the same panel contains the


imperative "SAY one THINK two." This is, of course, impossible- ollow I

ing a command to say "one" is to follow a command to think it. Though


it may make some sense to say that we can be saying one thing while we
are (really) thinking about another (such dual voices are heard in the

wonderful first-date scene with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in AtMU
Hall), it is impossible to follow a command to do both at the same time.
The cognitive dissonance created by the attempt to "do" the exen ise,
when "doing the exercise" means following the written instruction,
reveals what doing the exercise is really about. The exercise is completed
JA AiC^- 3"*/ *** A-iUilr*0 in the experience of the potential split, in the experience of the distention

of meaning that following the instruction brings upon us.

THI5N THI5 KNTIRK AR15A IS AT LKAST Finally, I would like to turn to the subdivisions that address elements
TUN TIMKS AS AMBIGUOUS
of cognitive experience often not considered in theories of meaning or in
philosophical theories as a whole, except perhaps in the ongoing discus-
The Mechanism of Meaning, 3. Presentation of Ambiguous Zones ponel I |detoil| sion of ideology. In broad stroke, these constituents of meaning might be
characterized as nonconceptual experience-experience involving feeling,

apprehension, or behavior-reactive environmental interaction. They are

by the fact that the dotted line describing the outside dealt with in four subdivisions: 4. The Energy of Meaning. 10. Textun ,>/
further complicated
integrity as a zone. In short, the exer- Meaning, 12. The Feeling of Meaning, and 15. Meaning of Intelligence, of which
rectangle again puts in question its

and ambigu- will discuss the final three.


cise investigates the dialectical interrelation of determination I

Most philosophical treatments of meaning limit themselves to account-


ity by making us constantly play one off against the other.
ing for conceptual experience. This primarily because the issue of
Of particular importance to understanding the theory of meaning that is

forms the background for The Mechanism of Meaning are the two subdivi-
sions 7 Splitting of Meaning and 8. Reassembling, in which the exercises
specifically rely upon the view that meaning is a product of an endoge-

nous sundering, a marking-off, a splitting and rejoining, of what Arakawa

and Gins wittily term a "cleaving." The exercises invite us to split, disjoin,

or iterate meanings and thereby to open up new possibilities of aware-

ness. What may seem to be "unnatural" cases of splitting are revealed to

be merely along other coordinates; they are perfectly "natural"


splitting
Meaning
cases within the expanded significatory context. 7. Splitting of
helps us focus on the potential for structural reassignment
of meanings. s
'I

not surprising
Since what is sought to be elicited are unnatural splits, it is
Zen and Dada, both attempts to dislodge accepted
to see the influence of
"illogical" breaks. In the third panel (see
modes of thought through swift
we encounter two phrases for contem-
p. 77, fig. 7.3) of this subdivision,
inside a
plation. First is the declaration "A LINE IS A CRACK," which sits

The Mechanism of Meaning, 7. Splitting of Meaning ponel 3 Idetaill

rectangle whose upper right corner isrepresented as folding back, reveal-

ing black underneath. The letters forming the words in the phrase appear
both of the black (as revealed by the fold)
to be semidiffuse, to partake
that is of the "surface." Now,
that exists "under" the panel and the white
line-as a crack.
we ordinarily do not think of a line-that is, an inscribed say 07VL think twty
nature at all, as a physical mark upon
We think of a line, if we think of its

what we might call its inverse nature, as


the page. We do not think of it in
Splitting of Meaning ponel 3 (delo.ll
The Mechanism of Meaning, 7.
halves. To think of the line
a split forming or dividing the page into two

RUSH 49
FIRST SIGN OF SAPI1CNOIC ( ON REFLECTION )

The Mechanism of Meaning, 15. Meaning of Intelligence ponel 2 (deloil]

meaning in contemporary philosophy has been taken to be coextensive and awareness requires an object for that awareness. This property of

with an account of linguistic meaning, an area in which analysis of con- consciousness, first discovered by Franz Brentano and developed in a rig-

cept deployment seems to exhaust the field. Arakawa and Gins hold that orous philosophical fashion by Edmund Husserl, is what is commonly
we experience the world as having significance due to our experience as called intentionality.

embodied intelligences, and conceptual states certainly do not canvas all An exercise in the second panel (see p. 106, fig. 15.2) of 15. Meaning of

the ways in which an embodied intelligence interacts with its environ- Intelligence presents a scene of a ship sailing across the surface of the sea

ment. This is only to say that a significant part of our existence is at the horizon line. Centered in the scene is the sun (or perhaps, given

informed by affect, mood, and biological state." 10. Texture of Meaning the violet shading of the scene, night is indicated and we are looking at

recalls that all significance exists in an infinitely variegated and textured the moon). Enclosing an area that contains the ship, the sea, and the sun
context involving subjective and emotive as well as conceptual factors, is a large pair of parentheses. A caption reads: "(
)
FIRST SIGN OF

what Frege would have excluded from a theory of meaning proper, as SAPIENCE (ON REFLECTION)." What is being pointed out about sapience

mere "coloring" [Fdrbung). The panels in 12. The Feeling of Meaning pre- or, in the way I have framed the topic of this subdivision, consciousness?

sent feeling as constitutive of significance and as intimately connected To be sure, the point is, in part, that consciousness is essentially directed

with bodily states. And, in perhaps the most radical of the subdivisions, toward an object; it is about something. It is also the exclusion of some-

15. Meaning of Intelligence, Arakawa and Gins challenge received concep- thing. When I am conscious of a thing, my very attention involves selec-

tions of intelligence as rational or rationally reconstructible thought. 15. tive sapience. This is not to say that I choose to disregard other objects in

Meaning of Intelligence treats intelligence as a cross-species capacity that my field of consciousness. That would be nonsensical on two counts.

discerns environmental features crucial to correct functioning but that First, the idea of choice seems entirely out of place in a description of

need not include a faculty for discerning such features as important. what takes place when I become conscious of a thing or state of affairs. I

Intelligence is thus a structural feature of the universe, an expression of must presuppose being conscious of alternatives in order for the idea of

an economy and interdependence of subject and environment.'-' having a choice in a matter to gain a foothold. Second, the field of con-

Because of the preconceptual nature of these claimed constituents of sciousness of which phenomenologists are apt to speak is consciousness

meaning, it is quite difficult both to construct panels that elicit appropri- of whatever is in that field; it makes no sense to say that something is in

ate responses verbally (by the presentation of written texts) and to ana- my field of consciousness without my being conscious of it. Nevertheless,

lyze these panels. I make only a few remarks in this direction. First, some consciousness is exclusive in the sense that (at least, in terms of reflective

of the panels in 15. Meaning of Intelligence treat what, for the want of a bet- consciousnesses like ourselves) it may be argued that we are tacitly aware

ter designation, is the emergence of consciousness. Gins and Arakawa fol- that the world is chock-full of potential objects of consciousness that are

low what is now the common view that what consciousness is, at its most not actual objects of my consciousness at this moment. Under this under-

fundamental level, is directed sapience. To be conscious is to be aware standing of the nature of consciousness, the exercise presents conscious-

50 TO THINK, TO INVENT. TO BE INVENTED


The Mechanism of Meaning, 15. Meaning of Intelligence ponel 2

albeit nonreflective,
part of the lizard, a successful, context-sensitive,
ness as an attending, which means a bracketing of a piece of the world for
interaction with the world. The point is pushed to its limit by implying
our cognitive intake. understood on this
Meaning, the final that the growth tendencies of a tree can also be
In the published third edition of The Mechanism of
bearing the same title (see expanded model of intelligence.
panel of 15. Meaning of Intelligence is a sketch
are depicted as relative
p. 52).In it, types or distributions of intelligence
that MEANING, MORALITY, MORTALITY
degrees of angle and not as degrees on a scale. The
point, I take it, is

human thought and endeavor. The concern


or even of being reflec- Let us return to the world of
intelligence is not merely a matter of concept
use,
to introduce us to ways of reconfiguring conceptual
includes these ways of of Arakawa and Gins
tively aware of the world (although intelligence Mechanism ofMeaning is meant to .... ite
us
out in different ways for space does not mean that The
interacting with the world). Intelligence is meted a
to any random restructuring of
our takings of the world In fact, it is
in the sketch a
different approaches to environments. Also depicted is

The genocidal evil that has plagued this centur)


seriously moral work.
lizard that has severed presumably in order to escape capture.
of thought are morally repug-
its tail,
teaches us that some reordenngs of modes
What from treating the biological adaptation (or nonadapta-
prohibits us
nant; those reorderings that
emphasize the primacy of the aesthetic over
intelligence? It is, on the
tion) as a mode of "natural" or "evolutionary"

RUSH 51
are particu-
the conceptual in the political sphere
larly suspect. Arakawa and Gins seek a fundamen-

ftiw
^iT*~ talreordering that results in a different conception
of what it is to be a morally responsible
subject.

aims creating agents whose sub-


The reordering at

jectivity no longer carries with it the irrational

desire to consume nature and a


compulsion for

mass murder and self-destruction. Such subjects

would view themselves as coeval with other


beings, all the while recognizing the moral obliga-

tions that flow from the fact that we are creatures


/rr'yUiteej- that influence our environment by
our concep-

tions. Such a moral bearing involves


nothing less
world so as
than organizing our interactions in the
authority
not to implicitly transfer to others the
our having this or that concept of the
latent in
as a
world as a whole. For while what counts
much do with our
world for us may have very to

conception of (or even


conception of it, no one it

for us under
the fact that it can only be a world
#
some conception or another) should be taken
as

way. As
authority to make the world just that
I

of
understand Arakawa and Gins, all privileging
of thought spell conceptual tyranny
and are
modes
to be avoided. We must continually remake our-
selves in as inclusive a manner as possible at
cognitive
any given time. The "end state" of
which varying concep-
growth would be one in
world were obtained in plurality and
tions of the

none assert preeminence.

Meaning of Intelligence ponel 5 1963-7


The Mechonism ol Meaning. 15.

Pencil and paper on convov 96 68 inchei

Collection ol rhe Sezon Foundation. Tolyo

52 TO THINK TO INVENT. TO BE INVENTED


1. In addition to installations of Arakawa and Madeline Gins's The Mechanism of Meaning in its shim C in.bndge: Cambridge Unh ei lit) Press 1979 chap I lb the extent that we conceive of our perceptual
at various times, there have been three I k editions ol die work and two films- Why Nol (A Serenade of structures as "hardwired" . apa. itii nol rubje. t to i hangc through oni eptual Incursion ( i
hland i an
Eschalological Eeology), 1969, and For Example (A Critique of Never), 1971 that are explii itl) structured b. een as arguing for at leasl the possibilit) ih.u ilwse . apa, u has,- ., iI.l;i<-i ,,i pl.isin.UN

accoidmg to the work's subdivisions It is also reprodui ed in the present volume Arakawa and Gin l.i The idea thai n iful sxl i reati ai * wa) ol pen eh ina th. world and thai il is onlj arl that can
Architecture Sites of Reversible Destiny (London Academy Editions, 1994) and Silt of Reversible Destmy-Yoro, afford this i irperii nee finds its fhllesl expression in thi writings of thi German Romantics particularly in

built in Gift), Japan, are i ontinuations ol this ongoing project. In preparing this essay, I referred to Schlegel's view thai life and arl are re. iproi al i reative enterprises and ihe earK s, helling
identifii ation

Arakawa and Gins, The Mechanism of Meaning, new 3rd ed. (New York: Abbeville Press, 1988). of the arUslic intuition as being the closi si approximation one can hop foi an mine dial. exp. ric I

2. Paul Gnce, "Meaning," Philosophical Review 66 (1957). pp. 377-88. ihe iillimali units ol ua and spirit S.mil.n ih. nights ammali Sehopi iihain i , argumvnl l"i tin mei.<

3. See generally Willard Van Orman Quine, "Two Dogmas of Empiricism," in Quine, From a Logical Point of physical importance of music and. lai gel) following Schopenhauei the earl) iriews of Nietzschi onthi

View (New York: Harper and Row, 19!>1), pp 20-46 Although Chime is often recruited in aid of meaning sigllilli JIM e of UaeiclN

holism, he is a meaning skeptic I shall follow general practice, however, and speak of Quine's views as 16. Walter Benjamin Das Kunstwerk mi Zt-ii.il.. , teinei u i hni. h. m El
|
luzii rbarkeit," m Benjamin
applicable to questions of linguistic meaning Gesammelte Schriften Frankfurt am Main Suhrkamp 1974) 1 Vd 17') Benjan , attitude toward this disap

"Oui statements about the external world face the tribunal of sense experience not indi- pearance difficult to characterize Initial!) hi seemi to treal thi disenchantmenl "t the world and ol
I See ibid., p 41 is

vidually but only as a corporate body.'* Also see Quine, "Epistemology Naturalized," in Quine, Ontological merely as a feature of modernity, the loss oi which is nol an occasion foi mourning Postaural "ill be

Relativity and Other Essays (New York: Columbia University Press, 1975), p 89: "Meaning, once we get unabashedl) "pohucal ..rt .ts purpose will in to elicit appropriate!) Marxist emotional responses from its

beyond observation sentences, eases i in general to have any clear applicability to single sentences." audience Later, in his writings on Proust and Baudelaire, Benjamin lakes a more negativ. view ol the

5 See Quine, "Two Dogmas," pp 42 I


technical incursion into arl ( onnei ting il s^iih what he takes to bt thi radii ill) disjointed nature "i mod
whole of science The of our so-called know ledge, em, techno! BenjamintreatsthelossofauraasanimpoNeiisliin.nl Still he is not entirel)
The unit of empirical significance is the totality .

histor) to the profoundest laws of atomic physics or pessimistic, claiming a possible reconstruction of art through a reenchantment of the everyday-a rcappro
from the most casual matters of geography and
even of pure mathemaUcs and logic, is a man-made fabric which impinges on experience only along pnauon of technology by art that he believed to be essential to Surrealism

like a field of force whose boundary conditions are 17 \rthur Danto has pointed out die impori.ni' ,,i I i.i.i.i I... Vrakawa and Gin Danto Gin
the edges Or, to change the figure, total science is

and Arakawa: Building Sensonums," in Danto. Embodied \teantngi Critical Essays andAesthelii Mutilations
experience A conflict with experience at the periphery occasions readjustments in the interior of the

field Truth values have to be redistributed over some of our statements Reevaluation of some state- (New YorkFarrar, Strausft Gil 1994 pp 119 '

7 Bun n Paril Editions di la Difference 19


ments entails reevaluation of others, because of their logical inlerconnections-the logical laws being in 18. See Jean-Francois Lyotard, Que pemdre Adami, Arakau i.

between Arakawa i images and Zen Buddhism


turn simply further statements of the system, certain further elements of the field But the total field pp 67-82, for a meditation on the dialogue
19. There is also a parallel to be drawn here between neutralization and
Minn, Heideggei ilatei notion of
is so underdetemuned by its boundary conditions, experience, that
there is much latitude of choice as

the primordial meaning-conferring relation of Dasein ami Being U on* ol a clearing awa)
taakawa and
to what statements to reevaluate in the light of any single contrary experience No particular experi-
us us do, hoNNese. nadi InH. ism Foi
except indirecdy through Gins's conception of neutralization ol siil.je, i.

ences are linked with any particular statements in the interior of the field,

Heidegger's views, see "Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes, in I lei, I, n /// .//, v I ..uiklun .nn Ma...
considerations of equilibrium affecting the field as a whole.
Goodman. See, for example, Goodman. Ways of Kloslermann, 1952
6 I Ins is also a i ontinuing theme in the work of Nelson
|| I lus corresponds to the second type of ambiguity identified in William Empson, S,un ly/i

Worldmaking (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1978).


MIT Press chap passim. (New York: New Directions 1947
7 Quine, Word and Object (Cambridge, Mass.. I960), 2,

Interpretation." in Davidson, Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation 21 See George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors II, /,.. B) Chicago University of I

8 See Donald Davidson. "Radical


and Lakoff. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things What Categories Reveal about thi Mind (
1980
I

i,l Clarendon 1984), p 125 "All understanding of the speech of another involves radical
has
University of Chicago Press, 1!)87). Il is not exactly true thai thi embodied natun ol out existence
interpretation receivi
entirely escaped philosophic icrutiny, bul .he philosophical tradition In which such li theii
ed. G E. M. Anscombe and R
a I

9 See. for example, Ludwig Wittgenstein. Philosophical Investigations, '2nd ed.. German ihoughl
fullest discussion is quite remote from prevailing tendencii i nineteenth cenrur)
a language is to imagine a form ol lifi
EUiees (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1967), I 19, To imagine ihesitu-
(Schopenhauer and Nietzsche: andtwentieth centurj phenomenology (Maurici Merleau
P )
ol B language is
"The term 'language-game' is meant to bring into prominence the fact that the speaking nanalysisoftl gnitive signifii unci
ation in coniemp.i.aiN linguistic theor) is a bit more condudv
part of an activity, or of a form of life"; and II: x, "What has to be
accepted, the given, is-so to speak-
and bodily dispositions ,,i attitudes, so Vrakawa and I lini End them
" of nonconceptual mental states
forms of life work ol ikofl and Johnson on
allied with recent work in psyeholinguistii i, In partii ulai the 1

See. foi example. Thomas Kuhn. Ihe Structure ofScientifit Revolutions, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Universit) ol
harbor doubts aboul Arakawa and Gin
li)

Vn analysis of this metaphonc structunng of concepts How, ., I ikofl n to


d go Press 1970 and Paul I everabend. Against Method {Hew York. Verso, 1975 lil
volume,
ihe presenl
much made of the clam, foi the ultimate plasticit) of our categones ol thought;
erature is a complex matter and one thatcannol be treated here In m) view, too is

Kuhn never embraces the claims that his argu- pp. 112-23
all. gedl) relativist!, d. liverancesol these views First,
Ihe and the lawful
differen. e In kind betw. en the lawful itructure ol
.1
22 he s.ew that there is no i

analysis of the meaning of terms in scientific


I

ments, forwarded in die comparatively narrow context of an and distinguished philosophii i digree,
structure oi thought, foreign as it may seem to us. has a long
overtly theoretical organizaUons of thought.
theories are applies ible generally to language or less *eve. Aral nd
break down and appeal to some extending back to Heracleitus and Anaxagoras, through Aristol
Moreover, even the most radical "incommensurabalists" like Feyerabend
share the teleologii a] ommitmenti of these former views
not so closely tied to notions ol
( , U1 , ,, v .
doe, n0 | .,.,., to .

sort of immediate wa) to understand rival si hemes, generally one that is

rational reconstruction and translation as Quine would have it.

Si heme to idson, Inquiries into Truth and


See Davidson, "On the Very Idea of a Conceptual in I

11

Interpretation, pp. 193-94


conceptual scheme's] fitting die totality of experience, like the
[he uoul.le ,s thai the notion of [a
adds nothing intelligible to the simple concept
, itring the facts, oi of being true .o the facts,
presses a
To speak of sensory experience radier than the evidence, or jus. th. fai ts, i

of being true
against
s ,eu about the source or nature of evidence, but itdoes not add a new enUly to the universe
.ensor) e> iden. e is what we want
provided, u is all
whi. h to tesl b. hemes he totalitj ol
con. eptual I

make sen.,,,,
the evidence there and all the evidence there is is just what ,t lakes to
is;
true, no. experience, not surface irrita-
true Nothing, however, no thing, makes sentences and theories
tions, not the world, can make a sentence true.
com eptual schemes in terms of the nouon of fitting some
, lm attempt to . hara. terize languages oi
acceptable scheme or theory- if
entity has come down, then. ... the simple d.ought that something is an
our own now becomes: largely
And the Criteri a conceptual scheme different from I

question of ha* well


truebul nol translatabl. lb qu n whether this is a useful criterion is Just the
truth, as applied to language,
independent of the notion of translation.
we understand the I

1 ansv e, ,. think, thai we do not understand I


independent it ... ..II
1

Ep.laphs " ,n L ,,.


"A Nice Derangement
I
ol I

12 Davidson most clearl) endorses this position in


Philosophy of Donald Davidson (London Blackwell. 1986
Truth and Interpretation Perspective on thi

PP I

(Paris: Payot, 1973), p 166


13 Ferdinand deSaussure, Cours de linguulique gtniraU
oi the penetra
i
, .on.o.ue Paul t huu hl.u.d \ u.. , though! experiment concerning .he possibilit)
u tfed I even at variance
wjp-
fconte n rider to be explit
dthe Plasticity ofMtnd
tual experien.
late, ption; .ee Churchland, Scientific Realm
6 Into I
,

RUSH 53
THE
MECHANISM
THE MECHANISM OF MEANING
OF
MEANING 1. NEUTRALIZATION OF SUBJECTIVITY

2. LOCALIZATION AND TRANSFERENCE

3. PRESENTATION OF AMBIGUOUS 3SONES

4. THE ENERGY OF MEANING (BIOCHEMICAL.


PHYSICAL. AND PSYCHOPHYSICAL ASPECTS)

5. DEGREES OF MEANING

(>. EXPANSION AND 1U2BUCTION-MEANING OF SCALE

7. SPLITTING OF MEANING

B. REASSEMBLING

<>. REVERSIBILITY

10. TEXTURE OF MEANING

11. MAPPING OF MEANING

12. FEELING OF MEANING

13. LOGIC OF MEANING

14. CONSTRUCTION OF THE MEMORY OF MEANING

15. MEANING OF INTELLIGENCE

16. REVIEW AND SELF-CRITICISM

Complete captions for poges 54-109 a


grven on poges 1 1 0-1 I
' :

1. Neutralization
of Subjectivity
NEUTRALIZATION OF SUBJECTIVITY
1

USB THESE EXERCISES AS A SERIES OF FILTERS


THROUGH WHICH TO PASS SUBJECTIVE MODES OF
INTERPRETATION AND NEUTRALIZE TO SOME DEGREE
X X
X X X x \
XX x
x *
^c

-V

V
X \ X X X
^ %
+
* * * x + >c

-V
^c x X
PLEASE THINK ONLY OF THE DOT NOT OF THE X'S .

0cb o
OOOCQ

o.

o o,
:

o ooo' o
o 8
Oo o
a op
_Q O
PLEASE THINK ONLY OF THE DOT NOT OF THE CIRCLES.

USING THE SAME SYSTEM SEPARATE


THE. NEXT TWO SHADES

ARAKAWA AND GINS 55


LOOK AT ANY CLOSE OBJECT AS YOU
OPEN AND CLOSE YOIJH EYES FOtt
SEYEUAL MINUTES

TIIKSK JUNCTURBS
CHOOSE EVERYTHING

MAKE THIS AS TIGHT AS POSSIBLE

WITHOUT POINTING WITHOUT POINTING


COUNT THESE LINES COUNT THESE LINKS

MECHANISM OF MEANING, NEUTRALIZATION OF SUBJECTIVITY


56 THE I
/tty. AAj. vUvi^X&f -/ ,<* AA* .U^f .<*-*<* ~-*-
-*f

SANNAH NRUTUAMZI
- IN MIUUOU
- 1IY/1N WATRH
- l-OUCUINC KICK MOOT
- < i.n!i BBTWRBN aiims AND I

- an<;i.i: OF BODY
- BRING HPUKAD our ON
- DI8PKU81NC HUM
- DIVIDING HAM? INTO MANY DUAIDfl
- SAM1-. UttACKtKT ON BAai AHM

STOP THINKING ABOUT THIS - I.ISTRN1NG

CD BLDHII NBUTUALIZRS ":


- I1Y NOT BHRING SUSANNAH
- riir STANDING 01
am. His
- t.u: OTIIKU IIV GUA11DING a CLOTS and TDK LOSING 01

BODY BXCRPT FOP. OKAD AND Alixi


OT...IU TIIUOUG1I TBI 0PP0
- "bBY NBOTUAUZB BACH
ANCl.i: TB110UGH WHICH TBRY SRI! NOTHINGS

in CRNRUAI.
- SMAI I DUCKS NRUTUAMXR Till LAUGI
NRUTUAI.IZR.N TBI MIUUOU ITSMLV DOM.
TimOUGB
-WATKU
\I.I/.ATION7
- HUTU ANIMAL AND BIUD AIM' LOOKING AWAY

MUST UY MAN BOTUAUZATIONil IN


DBSIDHS THIS LIST THRU!
0P1UIATI0N IN THIS PAINTING.

ARAKAWA AND GINS 57


2. Localization
and Transference

THE FOLLOWING WORDS AND FIGURES ATTEMPT TO


LOCATE THIS AREA OF MEANING PERHAPS TO PINPOINT
( )

AN1) TO EXPLORE THIS MOBILITY OF THE CONFIGURATION


WHICH SUGGESTS ITSELF. IN THIS CASE, PLEASE 1)0
NOT THINK OF THE CONTENT ONLY OF THE CONTAINER .

THAT THAT

TUTS THIS

1 I

IF POSSIBLE LOOK AT THAT.


IF POSSIBLE LOOK AT THIS
PUT THIS THAT IN ITS APPROPRIATE PLACE

58 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING


"FIVE MILES" means
1 HEADACHE
2 DELICIOUS
* COLOll THIS
KOUAUB
IS
Uf.ANK
1

2 HIllTHDAYS
"CIIAIHS" auk J MISS
<i. I 1

5 MELODIES

ENCLOSURE POH ONI! ATTENTION SPAN

THESE AUK TWO Oil MOttE DOTS WHICH WB11B


PfflPlTWB ffWfffrwi WHICH GOULD NOT
SEPARATED.)
111!

THIS SYMBOL IS THIS -


...no,,OTS SHOULD APPROACH THE VIEWER
,, AT REGULAR
SrSlUjS STARTING FROM THE MOST DISTANT BOUNDARY
SUGGESTED DY THIS FIGURE

ARAKAWA AND GINS 59


1 THE LENGTH OF DECISION
2 NEXT TO THE SELECTION OF A MISTAKE
3 GEOMETRY OF DECISION
4 THE NAT CHE OF TASTE OR BULLSHIT
NATURAL HISTORY

60 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING. 2 LOCALIZATION AND TRANSFERENCE


3. Presentation of
Ambiguous Zones 3 PRESENTATION OF AMBIGUOUS ZONES
EVERYTHING IS AMBIGUOUS AS WELL AS THE JUDGEMENT
THAT SOMETHING IS AMUIGUOUS AS SOON AS ANY FACT IS
.

PRESENT El), AMBIGUITY APPEARS AS THE ZONE OF ALTERNATE


POSSIBILITIES ATTEMPTS TO SELECT (JUXTAPOSE) AMBIGUOUS
.

ZONES WHICH MIGHT EXPLAIN ONE ANOTHER OR THE


( AMBIGUOUS NATURE OF AMBIGUITY
) .

J)A sf&o %*** "> A*n++*OM*0 %> PKi- sCo Xto^e*-* *> ^mAf****** .

THEN THE ENTIRE AREA IS AT LEAST


TEN TIMES AS AMBIGUOUS

USE ALL OF THE ABOVE TO SAY ^^ OR lV&~

ARE THESE ZONES FLAWLESS ?

IN THE NON-SENSE what is the ratio


AMBIGUITIES EMPLOYED ?
OF
ZONES PRESENTER TO

ARAKAWA AND GINS 61


YES NO

THIS IS A
COHESIVE

VISCOUS .

adhesive *

sessile .

tenacious .

ukseparated .

adherence 1)0 VOU LIKE TIMS PAINTING ?


AND/ OU AX
AMBIGUOUS
ZONE

11 LANK

62 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING, 3 PRESENTATION OF AMBIGUOUS ZONES


)

r
AT THIS MOMBNT THB WHOLB
STHUCTURE KBPBAT8 IT8BLV
( ANOTHBll SCALE ? MBBCTJON ?

i-.vrn 01 THBsi: is iilsiiii- down _


THIS IS AN AMBIGUOUS
X-ltAY OF ANYTHING.
IS THIS AN AMBIGUOUS
X-KAY OF ANYTHING?
BUT SOMETHING IS MISSING H ii

<
'
^L/- u^r *

'
ur-
S . II . I . H . T

ARAKAWA AND GINS 63


BASED ON DOUBLE HBLIX IV THAT
* TO UAKK A :*- MODEL OF THIS-PKRHAPS MIGHT CHANGE
THEN THE OUALLITY OF AMBIGUITY
ONE DAY EXISTS
* AMBIGUOUS ZONKS EXIST WITHIN BACH
STATEMENT OR ItEPKBSENTATION AND
THESE
ACBOSS THE CONCEPTUAL DISTANCE WHICH SEPARATES
* HOW TO ESTIMATE THE EXTENT OF THESE ZONKS TO? DEAL WITH
. . . .

* BOW NOT TO THINK IN TERMS OV ESTIMATION BUT


AMBIGUOUS ZONES AS BASIC UNITS

64 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING. 3 PRESENTATION OF AMBIGUOUS ZONES


4. The Energy
Meaning FNFRGY OF MHANING
Till!
of I

A STUDY OF SIGN PHOCFSS IN MOTION, AS MOTION; THIS


WILL INCLIJDF A HFPOUT OF CIJHHFNT THFOMFS MOCHFMICAL, (

PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOPHYSICAL ASPFCTS AS WKLL AS )

FUHTHFU SPECULATION

^^~
-^ ^
*%***
if*
tS
**
*s*

UyUU
f

* :/

sc
y*^

4 2*5*>tt

* 3
/ J* ***,

v_y

V4 ^
y***^

A*r~*~
~

4.
n ?>7*>j

GUHY ARROWS -RANDOM ORGANIZING PRINCIPLKS IN PRK-KNKRGY STATK


WIIITK AHHOWS RKPRKSKNT TDK UNSPKCIFIKD
uiiAirviU IS NOT COVKRIOI BY A WOHl> on A Willi nil GRKY ARROW IN HIS DIAGRAM
i: I

lU'Plu'siNl-^I'VHK I AMI 1UB IIA1IBLY SUSPUCTKIJ IN IJV1JRY CC.NTKXT


\Sl SP KC'll.l)
Tm^hh\NKKVt ANDTHK PURPOSK Ol INDICATING THIS HI-lli: HAVE K DO WITH TIIK
ROLH
fflOTIcSfSTB IJSTADLISHING
CRUCIAL WHICH SUCH UNSUSPECTED CNON-KXISTKN1
FORCISS PLAY IN A GROUND.

ARAKAWA AND GINS 65


-
1

s'.VKCT
AS VOW lui-W MA :

THT. IXHN IXTCi v: 111 VAiVT

I>UAW dots into links wnn-K


BYPASSING T):

A CARD BECOMES A POOT

-*-/-
e-a-iv a -4J~t+*U~('tf~rt~- w'- >r>K,ltA
<r-

nim APMloPlUATi; KYB IIOTIOl H LWH DACK IWTO


DttlQINATINC DOTS AT KITHI-:!'.

huh
DRAW KYKS 0ACU AJMJ FOttTH TO CONNIMTI' DOTS INTO MKKK j
Q&**H_ u-m/CL cotrvuAA+n*. i. A*bCi&*<. -Asi*-

66 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING, 4 THE ENERGY OF MEANING


im/mai TO THB POT15NTIAL KNIJUGY PATHS
TAK13CMAKI3) AS MUCH ISNISUOY AS POSSIBLE

I ;W- Jt Ma

j+xU+rv***/. X*~

(fit.- vu*X*r*. *fi

STAR 15

VRAKAWA AND GINS 67


5. Degrees
of Meaning DKGRKKS OF MKANING
5

KXKRCISKS TO STUDY THK OPERATION OF ABSTRACTION


THROUGH THIS ALTKRATION OF SIGNIFICATIONS HY DKGRKKS
( ANGLK POSITION
,
INTENSITY
. PKRSPKCTIVK
,
AND THK . >

RANGE OF THIS NOTION OF D12GRKKS IN ABSTRACTION THROUGH


KXTKNSIVK COMPARISON OF THESE ( TO SURROUND DEGREE
.

HY DEGREES ? )

USB THK FACT THAT

THK ABOVK OBJKCT :~~jU~^f- -^


( <&-* *^*A- *4f**& >

THK ABOVK PAINTING ( >

THK ABOVK GAMK (km+*^


( >

THK ABOVK STRUCTURE -#c Jk**Z*A* #f Mu. <Xu*ZZiA^ >


C

THK ABOVK DIAGRAM < OC^fn^^- }

IS ISOMORPHIC TO ANYTHING
( CHAIR LANDSCAPK AIRPLANE HAND , , CAKE ETC

TO SURROUND DKGRKK BY DKGRKKS


THK ABOVK SOUND

68 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING


TI1BSB AUK Al SIS'-"

USB THIS

TITLBS: *~.

TIIBSB AH SIJ8B [{OUGHT


j huoM FOB COUHBCTIOM |

TIIBSBAllK ALL THB SAMB SIKH


DO NOT ALLOW FOR CORttBCTION

WAR OF THB WORLDS

VRAKAWA AND GINS 69


JL

DBGRBBS OP PBRMBATION NON *****&, PUNCTIONAL


NON XU^Ay SBNSU
USBLBSS OB MOBE

OPBN THIS TO HAVi: OPBN THIS TO HAVE


A DBJA VII
A DIM A VI;

THE TWO ARRAS SEPARATED BY THU GRAY STRIP < MOVABLE )

SHOULD MBVBB BB UNITED IN ONB PBRCBPTION

1 I

i
1

[
1 jj
l*=i

70 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING. 5 DEGREES OF MEANING


A 13 C 1) IS V G II I J K L M Z

1234 5 (> 78 9

CAT HAN MAT DOG HAT COW GOT HOY


WHISPER WHISTL1S COV1SR PAIR WOOL SH1S1SP

N1SV1SR MINI) WHAT HIS SAYS


HOP1S TO S1515 YOU SOON AGAIN

KINA1SSTH1STIC SCULPTURlfc

f
I

VARY RATH OF PRONUNCIATION ACCORDING TO


THIS
THIS
L1SNGTH OF TIM1S SP15NT TOUCHING THIS OHJ1SCT

T II AS

ARAKAWA AND GINS 71


6. Expansion
and Reduction (> EXPANSION AND REDUCTION-MEANING OF SCALE
ATTEMPTS TO OBSERVE THE REGULATORY OPERATIONS
Meaning of Scale OF SCALE THROUGH EXERCISES FOR EXPANDING AND RE-
DUCING BOTH PARTIAL AND OVER-ALL PATTERNS. SOME
OF THESE MAY BE USED AS PROBES TOWARD THE DIS-
COVERY OF CRITICAL POINTS OF NON-CONFORMITY.

>12N

THIS IS 1,000,000 x ITS SIZE

SMELL THIS

72 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING


, xt S riv
SI N t
Kirv
K TO ACTUALIZE THIS DIAdHAM
THE NEON GREEN TO RED. AS EACH AREA
1

YE";^
EXPAN11
HJ ,",?]",
AS SHowN IN
33 S5JBSS* ^WJSi <>r THE KEY WILL BLEND

ARAKAWA AND GINS 73


J . _c I 2_

THIS MAY SUDDENLY START TO EXPAND

A NEW
IAPANES

THE DIAGRAM OF BOTTOMLESS


~~n | | 2 |
v. |
J [~~ o
i

74 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING, 6 EXPANSION AND REDUCTION-MEANING OF SCALE


10: 40 KM 100 n A wnmurs this punch
i\l\%

THE INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS


BETWEEN PARALLEL LINKS
(EXPANSION AND REDUCTION IN FIVE PARTS)

>,RAKAWA AND GINS 75


7. Splitting
of Meaning 7 SPMTTIJMi OP MKANINCJ

PORTRAIT OF MONA LISA (


S,5 A
gY
^

76 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING


.

THIS IS AliOUT TO SPLIT

-iibam
-NKCK

TJIOUAX

^"" ls

p^FOUKAllM

-HANI)

-THIGH
a wmm
p^=-lM)()T

1
say OTUL think Xwxr
talking on walking

ARAKAWA AND GINS 77


I . FOUND . THIS . GLOVK.
IN . MY . DUAWK1I . YBSTBH-
DAY . I . CUT . IT . IN . HAM'.
I . SRWBU . OP KACII HAL-
V , IT . TOOK . Ml -

. TWO . II-

OIJUS . AND . POIITY-PIVK


MINOTKS .

/f*J AXUo <***~


>f~
sGi~iso *~U{ -<Sc -p~i_ ffff.

78 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING 7 SPLITTING OF MEANING


11% 1VIV1KHI

-
'
HVfll
,.IAIH.

iu. V
VTTRIBUTION
KctnuntlKf for Ar r p1 .
.

Imputation, detention from


TJ-, nffil-ln'lon; pnlifrrc ^
npUn&tlnn *C linlrrnrrfcil.) 53;
rouonwhyAc (cox) Ii3
V lUrD --r' -. Impu't ,

frfw -, Uy -, |wil -i
ira<r -, bnn
lion,, lo; put -, !- down- lo, chnt>
-, rrouaa- nj Inmvl wllb, taign j
i

auM, rhirfr Wilh. I.l*iiir. I\ ' 'I"


door of, father upon; oM\* tnih,
ffilul. . uanml lor, J.n\T Irom, point
oul il.. -laUOU ki ISS; Ik
I

Ik.. II .omr, pul the .ddk oo tho


nr.hl bone.
Ad) linl.ulcd fa I ;
linliull.l.

Ar r .
r.

jf.rf) l&l;
puUllTC
Adv. hcorr-, the
Inrx, on c.oiuil of, bmw, oiMn

m 'hjmtj In, (or


wheon-. pro
wh. ' whWon-r whfw.' how
-ron... - U. - haptens- il* bW do

It hipprnT
iy; ion*
ho., - ur othtr

Ph/. il^t u why; *. i lolrjn;

I TO TUB LAS'I

ARAKAWA AND GINS 79


8. Reassembling
H R15ASS12MHLIXG
THIS FL15MFNTS OF 11KASS1SM11LY AND

ABC
AN INVESTIGATION OF
OF THK POSSIBLE APPLICATIONS OF TII1SS12 IN OHDUll TO
CHANGE USAGE

A B= C
A B = C
A + B=C
A -tB = C
ABC
A ^ B=C
A * B = C
A + B
TO WHAT BZTBNT IS = A FUNCTION OF + ?

IL + ^* A~. }*+**. ( JtUrunZU ) *J>**M f-


=

80 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING


I

PBRCBIVB A AS B
SOLUTION REMOVAL
IMMEDIATELY UPON RECOGNITION OF THIS PROBLBM.
Z

SIMILARITIES?)
MAY BB PROVIDBD (TRIGGERED BY UNDERLYING B. IF NOT. THE
BY AN INSTANTANEOUS DIVERSION OF A INTO TRANSFORMATIONS TRANSPOSE SEPARATE.!)
.

FOLLOWING EXERCISES MAY All) S1IBSEOUBNT


ISPLACIj^lTDb4lAW.CHA
PREPARATIONS OR ELEMENTS FOR REASSBMBLY
1 111 W IIS ION NOB IJB WjPPvRWMOVK . 15

mpt4JQ^8?&t.-
*H~~- ofp/mibvkX^^ooii
II

bye RANSF
EH. BE GONB.PULLT>FF.T
UANSMIT.PUSHOIIT.BY

ARAKAWA AND GINS 81


FOB DIAGRAMS OF A AND
PANRL DIFFUSION
3 mmncTiQN
( )
Ji RBFBR HACK TO FIRST
* PREPARATIONS OR RLRMHNTS FOR 1WASSKMRLY
4 strktchino
(

UtUX. **x. JtUu^ ? U*A~ ^ Xtu*,? \t~J- a

6 COVBRINO

12 o'dotk 18(5!)

I I
OUR BYBS

STAND BBTWRHN RITHBR SOT OF LINRS

FRONT HACK

82 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING, 8 REASSEMBLING


H PILMNW AND C A STING

J-f. ,1a, fTls {. M-jl. *if**~G*

7 LAYKKINU

ARAKAWA ANO GINS 83


9 MFASIJRIXG (JUDGING)

Dl-CIDF WHICH 1SACH OF TII12S12 RFSFMHLFS MOST A Oil II

w
WHICH WOULD HI- MOllH USFFUL FOR MEASURING THIS A OR II ?

KSTIMAT12 THIS 12FF12CT OF

A'

PI211C12IVI2 A* AS 13'

HOW MUCH MOU12 DIFFICULT IS THIS


PROHLFM THAN ITS PROTOTYPE ?
/C*-A^ *A" A fc*^-v^/- ~ ^+-u*L

U/A^T -<^ ^Xx_. ^*/uAx<*t oLuX^^c^. {s*+a*lI*- a ~U n?


#, A -i*&- H . ^ei^v*: A ^A- 1) , ^A ^*^- H , -*G-

U/AUA^ Xtrxrt^ U*n*y**-~ st~ A ** H ?

84 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING, 8 REASSEMBLING


9. Reversibility
Ri:vi:nsmiLiTY

.TO STRKTCH Till: CONCUPT OF BRING AliLR TO Hi: RRVKRSRD


WHIM? EXPLORING THK FLEXIBILITY OP SUCH NOTIONS AS
POSITION, CHANGK, SYMMETRY. BTC. I ALTHOUGH THIS IS
CLOSRLY RKLAT1SD TO SKVKRAL OTIIKR SUBDIVISIONS IT IS
F1SLT THAT A Sl-PAHATl- INVESTIGATION MAY PROVE USEFUL)

A MNEMONIC DEVICE

LOOK A, THIS FOR MORU THAN ONK


UIXUTH TO KRNF YOUR OWN NAM.

A MNEMONIC DEVICE FOB


FORGETTING

ARAKAWA AND GINS 85


SUM MOM TUE WED IHII FRI SAT

30 2!) 2S 27

2(J 24 DO 21 20

1!) IS 17 Hi

11 10

HOW KVKRYTHINOl

PORTRAIT 01 f
A THOUGHT WHICH BYPASSES EVERYTHING

WHAT HAVE YOU FORGOTTJ5N ?


WHAT HAS BERN FORGOTTEN?
WILL YOU WERE ? summer to reversals
WILL YOU R1M1!MRRRED ?

86 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING. 9 REVERSIBILITY


COMB
SHALL WE DAN CM OH MAY
I IN

94

VRAKAWA AND GINS 87


10. Texture
of Meaning 10 T15XTURK OF MKANING
PKRCKIV121) TKXTIJRK TKXTURK CM? PERCKPTION1 TKXTURK
OF COGNITION; TKXTURK OF AMOTIONS (DISPOSITION).
ATTEMPTS TO THROW OPKN THIS CONCEPT OF MKANING BY
PKKLING HACK THK LAYKRS OF TKXTURK .

USING ONLY THIS BRUSH DRAW


,

KACII TKXTIJRK FURTHER OUT

88 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING


1UK
RDGII
SURFACE SURPACB -.

-
STTBl'ACn
"
; SURFAfiP
BDGli RDC

SURFACE E1NJQ uui_oxji million wm.Bs in bach si;cno.\ .

BDGB TI1KN J- ILL LUliM _AVITH_SOMKXlIINU_LIKIi_T.ms .

1!1! SU11FACU BDGB


.. BDGB
m X

o
X-RAY or tbxturb

TOUCH IT

ARAKAWA AND GINS 89


WINDOW
FLOOD WINDOW
I CHAIR
BOOK
TABLE
FLOOD
CHAIR
BOOB
PENCIL TABLE
LIGHT PENCIL
PLANT LIGHT
SHOES
FOOD SHOES
CIGAUETTE POOD
RED CIGARETTE
Minnon BED
MIllHOll
WATEU
WATER

I'Y EXTHJ

TEXTSTAUS ?

90 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING, 10 TEXTURE OF MEANING


.

11. Mapping
of Meaning 11 MAPPING OP MEANING
CONSIDER THAT ANY REPRESENTATION Oil SYSTEM MAY BE
IJSED AS A MAP WHEN PAIRED WITH OR PLOTTED AGAINST AN
OBJECT OR AN ENVIRONMENT. THIS SECTION DEALS WITH RE-
PRESENTATIONS OF THE PROCESS OP MAPPING ITSELF THE DOUBLE

I

ASPECT OP SIGN* THE RELATION OP DENOTATION TO CONNOTATION


(PROPERTY OP MEANING)* THE RELATIONS OP SIGNIFIEDS TO
EACH OTHER. USE WILL BE MADE OF PRO JECTION DISTORTION

AND 'NEGATIVE' MAPPING IN AN EFFORT TO SURROUND AND


SUGGEST THE ARRANGEMENTS OP AREAS OF MEANING

A LINE AND FIVE MAPS

11 i

ARAKAWA AND GINS 91


D
GOOD * GOOD * GOOD . GOOD * GOOD

o
GOOD A GOOD n GOOD .: GOOD > GOOD m

D
HAD HAD . HAD HAD a DAD

D
DAD a HAD .. HAD c DAD ..

D
NBITHim. NIHTHK1L NBITHBB. NBITHBH- N1JITHHR.

NONB OF THIKB IS RIGHT OH W1IOKO

92 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING, 1 I MAPPING OF MEANING


MAP OF AN AllJ'A

15 y. ^ Att- ttjZT m*~* f*~*A*(


w y.
f xit- &ez m^ ****( ***- K) K rf- Mt- d+G ***** A^m^/AXt.
MfTr
sis y> **. z^^c #*-. ^fu~-

\\% /***<. -tiJ^ -J (rM-- 11 % m*st* <6**k. ~t4 frM .

'1 Yt *o4- /U/\s+*&*'*+-


6 % AC n+T~ *ff~+Sl+M^

ARAKAWA AND GINS 93


\IGIIT TAB L1C

(HAIR

\ LAMP

TELEPHONE

SHADOW

DESK

PA N
CLOTHES
PL A \T

94 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING. 1 1 MAPPING OF MEANING


12. The Feeling
of Meaning 12 THE PEELING OF MEANING
TOWARD A DEMONSTRATION OF THIS AFFECTIVE ROLE IN
COGNITION THROUGH AN INVESTIGATION OF AFFECTIVE VALUE
AS A MEASURING DEVICE; EXERCISES FOR THE MOVEMENT OF
EMOTIONS IN AN ATTEMPT TO SET PARAMETERS FOR FEELING
THROUGH CONTORTION, OVERLAY, REVERSAL AND OTHER DIS-
RUPTIVE SYSTEMS ASSUMING THE VALIDITY OF THE JAMES
.

LANGE THEORY, IF THERE IS AN INTERNAL SENSORY BASIS FOR


FEELING. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS PERCEPTION ?

,*<_- ote&C


> i f i i i
i
i I i I
;
I

r^;^T-^

12 1

ARAKAWA AND GINS 95


AA&A

ALMOST STABLIJ

DKPKN'DINtt ON

96 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING. 12 THE FEELING OF MEANING


A WOMAN'S II A IK A MANS HAIW

%
IW1IMN0 l SKCONDS

o SBCONDS
PIUSMNO

-1 SKCONDS

w
PKKLINH

PKKLINO SKCONDS

i NO
^^
ri:i:i.iN(J 5,746 SECONDS
1\
l'/ltl.

PKKLINfS lip 05 SKCONDS

IWKLING 'i,092 SBCONDS

lWHUNti 3^05,071 SBCONDS

l'HKUNG R.012.4SO SKCONDS

IWKMNG 40,:i(>7,14 SECONDS

i\<; W11.CM

ARAKAWA AND GINS 97


13. Logic
LOGIC OF MEANING
of Meaning 13

VIEWING LOGIC AS THE ORDER AND/ Oil CONTEXT IN WHICH


ANY MEANING OCCURS, TO STUDY ITS FUNCTION AS A
STRUCTURING ELEMENT ( POINTS OF APPLICATION TO
SOMETHING] AND SUGGEST ALTERNATIVES

*if*&&, s&+>9- JU*x*~ tyx^xJL, *Jkl&*i*^cJt

LOGIC OF -MEANING L.-J


Ml

MEANING

W.1
54

54

WHAT'S THIS POINT

98 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING


r$k Sm
USK ANY COMBINATION 01' THB BBTS DBLOW TO DKMONSTUATE
THE LOGICAL CONNECTIONS OF TIIK ONK ABOVE

COf'Ott SAMPLKS

WHOSE BLUE

POINT
USTAHLISn A COMMON MBKTING
UOH 15ACH S151 OP ARROWS

^RAKAWA ANO GINS 99


FORTY - TWO (42)

100 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING. 13 LOGIC OF MEANING


14. Construction
of the Memory CONSTRUCTION OP THH MICMOllY OF MKANING
A STUDY OF MKMOllY: ITS OPERATIONS, ITS SCOPK, ITS ROLF
of Meaning IN THIS REALIZATION OF M13AN1NG. TOWARD TII12 CONSTRUCTION
OF A TOTAL SITUATION IN WHICH MEMORY CAN R13MKMB13R
ITS12LF (ITS OWN OPERATIONS)

|M
&^kMu> -

^3^^
|&**^ !

^-^

NIGHT

ARAKAWA AND GINS 101


QUARTER 01' A SECOND
HALF A SECOND
ONE SECOND
TWO SECONDS
FIVE SECONDS
THIRTY SECONDS
FORTY -FIVE SECON1
ONE MINUTE

DURATION IN PRESENT TIME


FOR MEMORIES OF BLUB

QUARTER OF A SECOND NE DAY


HALF A SECOND ONE WEEK
ONE SECOND FORTNIGHT
TITO SECONDS ONE MONTH
FIVE SECONDS ONE YEAR
THIRTY SECONDS ONE DECADE
FORTY-FIVE SECO HALF A CENTURY
ONE MINUTE ONE CENTURY
BLUE INTO BLUE. PRESENT INTO PAST.
INDICATION OF DURATION IN PRESENT RELATION OF REMEMBERING TO MEMORY.
TIME FOR MEMORIES OF PAST PERIODS

NE DAY
iNE WEEK
A FORTNIGHT
ONE MONTH
NE YEAR
ONE DECADE
HALF A CENTURY
NE CENTURY

BLUE INTO THE PAST < OUT OF THE BLUE )

102 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING. 14 CONSTRUCTION OF THE MEMORY OF MEANING


UWOOffii A 10 JMTHAUO
aviooae A H.I AH
uwooae avio
auwosae owt
aavioDae avr-i
eawoora ythiht
;ooae avro-YTJioa
aTiivnu awo

.0W T0HTO3 flHTTAOa sow viorrojoaaii WAiswuusuMsi TViaaafli wow aiua ta<i
AdhDUH O'f aau jjA'jaa or aau craA*! Twaoaa > teat Twaaaaa anr
l .ovi Korrojoeaii t .ow Toaaaa aaTTAoa
^jUjU^U

yau awo awooaa a mo hhtaauo


uaaw awo a/iooaa a mjah
rciniwrjioa A-
iwooaa awo
htwom aw aowooaa owt
iiaby awo auwooara avn
auAJaa awo aawooaa ythiht
YfluTyiao A <LIAH< aawooaa avia-YTfloa
ynuTwao aw -otuwim awo

oWLflaoMaMaji Twaaaiw wow tzat


t3a*i wow Twaaana ao Yaowai/i

yao aw
xaaw awi
THOIWTJIOH
htwom aw
iiAaY aw
auA'jau aw
TOUTKB3 A 91AH<
YHUTwao awo
sjdka nairroviA ao auia aairro hht
owuiaowaMaji .owiirraMoa jihomsicimi oT.aioaaa
ao.ni anT orvn ba anj am' ao too

14.5

ARAKAWA AND GINS 103


,
x vrv
/
\
/
\
/

/
/ I

H1SVOLVIS M5SOLVK

WHICH LKAVI2S

SOM12 OF TBB THINGS WHICH THH ABOVH DOTS AND


LINKS INDICATE AU12: A ROOM, A WINDOW 7
A FLOOR,
,

A DOOR, A MAN, A TA11LK, A CUP, A m 40 A SHADOW



,

104 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING, M CONSTRUCTION OF THE MEMORY OF MEANING


15. Meaning
of Intelligence 15 MEANING OF INTELLIGENCE
AN EXPLORATION OF WHAT IS MEANT BY THE STATEMENT
OF AN INTELLIGENCE, OF WHAT TWO Oil MORE ELEMENTS
(ACTIVITIES?) AHE ALIGNED WHEN SOME X IS DECLARED
INTELLIGIBLE AND OF THE POSSIBLE (IMPOSSIBLE) REASONS
BEHIND (IN FRONT OF?) THIS.

K
AN AREA OF INTELLIGENCE
( RIGHT AND WRONG )

~%

AN AREA OF INTELLIGENCE
WRONG AND RIGHT )
(

ARAKAWA AND GINS 105


PLACti
PLACE 1PLACB5

^ PLACE
ICHHOlt PLACE
IIM) LIMIT OF
i P ACE
THE aa Xr oa OV jU Jdy .

IF POSSIBLEPLEASE FOUGHT ABOUT


,

ANY PLACB NOT MAHKB1) PLACH SHAPE

( ) FIRST SIGN OP SAPIKNCE < ON REFLECTION >

IFPOSSIBLE PLBASB FOROBT ABOUT


.

ANY SHAPB NOT MARKED SIIAPB

USK TWO OR TIIRBK DIPFEUENT WAYS


ABOUT

106 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING. 15 MEANING OF INTELLIGENCE


WHAT IS THIS

WHAT IS THIS

WHAT IS THIS

noosi: von ,\ COCKROACH

I DON'T OIVR UP

WHOSE MOMENT IS THAT l.\ WHICH I

PL1SASK DON'T LAUGH HAS NOT VET EVEN BEEN THOUGHT

ARAKAWA AND GINS 107


16. Review and
Self-Criticism

MAKER, BETWEEN ABOVE AND BELOW

Where edge blank eddies


The texture of receivability

By

Vectors may saturate


Pieces of layered approximations received

The surfacing of a parallel drift


generating a sense of out and in,

angular spin, the depth-maker of a surface

Distance of time, prehole.


Tunneling volumes of degrees as if

broken tubes
Within but between the numbers being counted

The setting of a broken rail


The enormous movability of a sucking passage (omnidirectional)
random, partial shrinking

Appearance of some profile junctures, some linear burps

Many
Volumes exchanged, a speed of shifting

Place for construction of a core of flexibility only

Diffuse receding that parallels and contours


waiting texture

The unique range of elasticities of


impressionable stretching, not yet texture

The regulating of reflection, deflection, inflection

Coalescence of sound joints, guides

Realization of mounting and push of duration (instant group)

Both senders and receivers, configurational coverings on


all and any scale

Pull of breath

To keep the end in sight; balance

As always the necessity of out of the blue, "to" and "from"

A sudden drop into a scale of action

The call of continuity

(1973)

ARAKAWA AND GINS 109


108 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING
The Mechanism of Meaning

An ongoing project, Arokawo and Modeline Gins'i The Mechanism of Meaning Table of Contents
began to take shape in 1963. when tKe eorliesl panels were made, and was completed, page 54 Acrylic on canvas

for the most part, by 1 973 All panels in the first fifteen subdivisions dole from 1 963-73
The two panels in subdivision 16 Review and Self-Cntiasm. doting from 1996, link 1. Neutralization of Subjectivity
The Mechanism of Meaning to Arokawo and Gins's recent wort on reversible destiny fig. I I Acrylic and silkscreened paper on canvas

architecture fig I 2 Acrylic and pencil on convos


fig I 3 Acrylic, photographs, ond silkscreened Mylor on canvos

To dote, two editions of The Mechanism ol Meaning have been mode The edition fig I 4 Acrylic, oil, and plastic on convos

featured in the present exhibition is reproduced in this volume [The other edition wos fig I 5 Acrylic ond photograph on canvos

ocquired in 1989 by the Sezon Foundation. Tokyo |

2. Localization and Transference


Mony of the panels incorporate colloged elements, including thre sionol ob|ects fig 2 / Acrylic, pencil, and wood ruler on canvas

For all panels, the dimensions of the canvos ore 96 68 inches fig 2 2 Acrylic and photographs on canvos
fig 2 3 Acrylic ond pencil on canvos
fig 2 4 Acrylic ond oil on convos

3. Presentation of Ambiguous Zones


fig 3 1 Acrylic on canvos

fig 3 2 Acrylic, glue, metal forks, oil, plastic bottles of Elmer's Glue-All. and
plastic recorders on convos
fig 33 Acrylic on canvas

fig 34 Acrylic and pencil on canvos

fig 35 Acrylic, cotton shirt, and pencil on convos

fig 36 Acrylic, oil. ond pencil on canvos

4. The Energy of Meaning


fig 4 I Acrylic and colored pencil on canvos

fig 4 2 Acrylic, oil, pencil, ond wicker bosket on canvos


fig 4 3 Acrylic, notebook, pencil, ond string on canvas

fig 4.4 Acrylic, cardboard, mirrors, pointed rope, ond painted string on canvos

5. Degrees of Meaning
fig 5 I Acrylic, colored pencil, and playing cords on canvas
fig 5 2 Acrylic on convos

hg 5 3 Acrylic and synthetic fur on canvas


fig 5 4 Acrylic, cork, magnetic clip, nails, painted assemblage (Mylar, poper. string,

wire, ond wood), paper, rubber strip, wire, wood, and wood measuring stick

fig 5 5 Acrylic, bulldog clips, composition-board cabinets containing mirrors, and

ploslic sheets on canvas


fig 5 6 Acrylic, level, melol chain, newspaper, pockoged outdoor thermometer,
paintbrush, sponge, and wristwatch on convos

6. Expansion and Reduction Meaning of Scale


fig 6 1 Acrylic, cotton rope. map. oil, and photographs on canvas
fig 6 2 Acrylic, neon tubes with plostic electrical unit, and oil on convos

fig 6 3 Acrylic, convos shoes, photographic enlargements, and wood ruler on canvas

fig 6 4 Acrylic and pencil on convos


fig 6 5 Acrylic, handkerchiefs, metal, oil on canvas in wood frame, rubber balloon,

ond rubber bond on convos

110 THE MECHANISM OF MEANING


7. Splitting of Meaning 12. The reeling of Meaning
fig. 7 I Acrylic, oil, and photo-printed canvas on canvas fig 12.1 Acrylic ond silkscreened Mvlor on convas

fig 72 Acrylic and pencil on canvas fig. 12 2 Acrylic and pencil on convos
fig 7 J Acrylic and oil on canvas fig 12 3 Acrylic, ceramic cups, metal hooks, and photographs on canvas
fig 74 Acrylic, eye patch, metol hook, ond plastic slide viewer on convos fig 12 4 Acrylic, basketballs, hoop, metal spring, ond net on canvas
fig 75 Acrylic, cotton-glove halves, industnol tope, photocopies, and photographs fig 12 5 Acrylic, bon of metal forks, box of metol knives, human hair, metal hook, ond

fig 76 Acrylic, oil, paper, paper-towel holder, and paper towels on canvas

fig 77 Acrylic on canvas 13. Logic of Meaning


fig 13 1 Acrylic, metol fork, and wood rulers on convc
8. Reassembling fig. 1 3.2 Acrylic ond photograph on convas
fig 8 I Acrylic on canvas fig J 3.3 Acrylic, cardboard lube, photographs, and si

fig 8 2 Acrylic, cardboard, lightbulb, lighlbulb socket, and painted duct tape on canvas fig 1 3 4 Acrylic ond pencil on canvas
fig 8 3 Acrylic on canvas
fig 8 4 Acrylic, cork, industriol tape, paper, ond steak knives on convos 14. Construction of the Memory of Meaning
fig 8 5 Acrylic, canvas board, D-nng, krofl paper, l-hook postage stamps, and fig 14 1 Acrylic, mirrors in wood frames, and oil on o
tracing paper on canvas fig 14 2 Acrylic ond pencil on canvos

fig 8 6 Acrylic and wristwatches on canvas fig 14 3 Acrylic ond convos on canvas

fig 8 7 Acrylic and oil on canvas fig 14 4 Acrylic ond pencil on canvas

fig 8 8 Acrylic, D-nng, one-dollar bill, photograph), plastic ring, printed paper, ribbon. fig 14 5 Acrylic ond convos on convas
string, sugar, and sugar dispenser on canvas fig 14 6 Acrylic ond pencil on convos

9. Reversibility 15. Meaning of Intelligence


fig 9 / Acrylic, balls of twine, cardboard tube covered with metallic paper, and fig. 15. / Acrylic on canvos

electrical tape on convas fig 15 2 Acrylic, cardboard construction oil, ond photograph on canvas
fig 9 2 Acrylic on convos fig 15 3 Acrylic on convos
fig 93 Acrylic, oil, painted rubber balloon, and photograph on convos fig 15 4 Acrylic, oil, penny, ond string c

fig 94 Acrylic, oil, ond pencil on canvos fig 15 5 Acrylic ond pencil on convas

10. Texture of Meaning 16. Review and Self-Criticism

fig 10 I Acrylic, canvas board, crumpled paper, metal hook, paintbrush, and figs 16 1-16 2 Raslergrophic on taomcore on c

photographs on canvas
fig 10 2 Acrylic, cloth, cork, cotton swabs, metal, and pencil on canvos
fig 10 3 Acrylic, ball of transparent tape, newspaper, painted photograph, paper
record, pencil, plastic cup, razor blade, ring, and X rays on canvas

fig 10 4 Acrylic, floshlighls, malchbooks, oil, and spark-making wood ob|ects

fig 10 5 Acrylic, oil. pencil, plastic v mecha m, slor map o jrdboord, ond

woven (obric on convas

11. Mapping of Meaning


fig III Acrylic, noils, and rubber bands on convas
fig 112 Acrylic, fishing line, knitting wool, mounted photograph, plastic bucket,

ploslic cup, ond pushpins on canvas


fig II 3 Acrylic and pencil on convos
top to bottom
fig 1 1 4 Acrylic, book, felt-tip markers, pen, pencil, and photographs on convos
Viewers engaged in exerom
fig 115 Acrylic, oil, and pencil on canvas
from 7 Splitting of Meoning,
fig 1 1 6 Acrylic and pencil on canvos
panel 4 8 Reassembling
panel 5. and 10 Texture of

Meoning. panel 4

ARAKAWA AND GINS 1 1 1


-TKtfL

4-

4
Testing the Limits
of
Brain Plasticity
GEORGE LAKOFF Or,

Why Is

Th ere

a Wall
FERRETS LOOKING LOUDLY HEAR THE LIGHT WHY THE SKY ISN'T BLUE
Down You might think that the sky is blue, that blood is red, that grass is green.

In a series of unusual experiments, scientists have rewired Not so. You might think that colors are "in" or "part of" the objects you
the
the brains of newborn ferrets so the animals, in a sense, perceive as colored. It's not true. Just ask your local neuroscientist.
hear things they would normally see. The research pro- Middle Colors are created by the color cones in our retinas, by neural circuitry

vides the strongest confirmation yet for a theory of brain in our brains, by the wavelength reflectances of surfaces, and by local
function that deems the visual, auditory, and other of the lighting conditions, all interacting. There are no colors in objects them-
"higher" parts of the brain as fundamentally alike in com- selves, no red in blood, no green in grass. Colors arise from our bodies
Tub?
putational function-resembling, at least in early stages of every bit as much as from the ability of objects to reflect certain wave-

development, interchangeable parts. lengths of light and from surrounding conditions.

Moreover, the research supports the notion that these We, of course, perceive colors as being in the world. We can't help it.

higher, or cortical, parts of the brain "learn" how to per- It's a consequence of the brains and bodies we have. But we can know
form many of their sensory or motor functions from early- that seeing isn't believing. The sky in itself isn't blue.

cues in the environment. . . . Mriganka Sur and his Could we make the sky green and grass blue by rewiring our brains,

coworkers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in by redoing the neural connections to the color cones in our retinas?
neurons-which normally send Nobody knows for sure, and it is unlikely to be tested.
Cambridge rerouted retinal

sensory data from the eyes to the visual cortex in the But an artist can paint the sky green and the grass blue. The artist can

brain-in 16 ferrets so that the data went instead to the ani- do what the neuroscientist cannot.
mals' auditory cortex[es].
"The basic issue is: Does all cortex perform basically ARE THERE CHAIRS?

the same operation, and do the different outcomes only In an uninteresting sense, there are. The world contains very different

The answer objects that we conceptualize together as being the same kind of thing,
depend on putting different inputs in?" . . .

and we use the word "chair" to name that kind of thing. But that is
appears to be yes, the M.I.T researchers report in the

Dec. 9 Science. They found that some cells in the auditory mundane.
There is, on the other hand, an interesting sense in which the answer is
cortex "transform" raw data into "oriented rectangular
no, in which there are no chairs.
receptor fields"-a type of patterned response to stimuli
Suppose you insist, as many philosophers do, on existence as objective,
that has until now been clearly identified only in the visual
independent of observers and people interacting with objects.-' Such
about the as
cortex. . . . "This means there is nothing intrinsic

depends on philosophers would say that kinds of things exist only if objects in them
auditory cortex that makes it auditory. ... It
thing. If chair is a
selves share properties that make them the same kind of
what kind of input it gets" early in life.'

kind of thing, then chairs exist only if they share properties that distil]

couches or benches
Arakawa and Madeline Gins as guish them from every other kind of thing-say from
Think first of yourself as a ferret and of
inde-
Unable to rearrange your neurons And what they share has to be objectivi that
or beds or stools. .
is,

testing the limits of brain plasticity.


restructure your interaction pendent of people who sit in chairs, perceive chairs, or imagine chairs
directly, they do the next best thing-they independent
categories are not just out there in the world
oi
much of a new brain as is possible. However,
with the world to give you as
and
presently. observers and actors. We, the actors and observers, with our bodies
But why do you need a new brain? We'll discuss that

113
page
feeing

The Mechai of Meaning, 16. Review and Self-Crihcism, ponel 1


(detail)
The answer is no.

Cognitive scientists have discovered that basic-level categories like


chair, bed, and table are distinguished from superordinate categories like
furniture by (among other things) our ability to form mental images and
our motor programs for interacting with objects. In short, basic-level cate-
gories are defined not by the things in themselves but by how we per-
ceive, imagine, and interact with those things.

Again we we are centrally involved in our categories. What we


see that

WHOSE I3LTTK can imagine and how we move in the world matters to the categories we
accept as existing.
The Mechanifm of Meaning, 13. Logic of Meaning panel 2 (detail)
Meaning is not purely objective. We, with our brains and bodies, make
it. Meaning is not purely subjective. The world has to be there too.
Meaning is interactional. It is based on how we interact with the world.

Is the chair blue? Not in itself. Without our bodies and brains, there
brains, create those categories. It is we who conceptualize office chairs,
Eames chairs, are no chairs and there is no blueness.
armchairs, barber chairs, beanbag chairs, Morris chairs,
massage chairs, and electric chairs as all being the same kind of thing-
YOU ARE THE MECHANISM OF MEANING
chairs. It is we all have the right kinds of bodies and do the same
because
In the second panel (see p. 99, fig. 13.2) of the subdivision 13. Logic of
things with them-nameh in this case, sitting down using the appropriate
,

form a single category for us. Without us, Meaning in The Mechanism ofMeaningby Arakawa and Gins,' there is a rec-
motor programs-that chairs
ceased to exist and the objects tangle of lighter blue on a patch of darker blue, beneath which we find
thev are just different things. If all life
the words "WHOSE BLUE." The lighter blue rectangle carries the words
remained, chairs would not be a unified category.
kinds in "my blue"; the darker blue patch is inscribed "your blue."
So. if categories have to be objective, if they have to exist as

them, then There are languages that distinguish light blue from dark blue, that see
the world without anyone to interact with them or perceive
the blues as different colors and use different words for them.
Suppose I
this sense, there are
chair, as an objective kind of thing, does not exist. In
English and you another language. Which blue would be blue
for
spoke
no chairs.
arbitrary? Is just a choice-
What makes this interesting is that we naturally think that there are you? How would one translate "blue"? Is it it

which makes us notice the contribution of-language game?


chairs, that the category does exist,
color cones
No. All people have the same central blue, because of our
that we make to the existence of things and to the very idea of
and our neural circuitry. The darker blue is closer to the universal, body-
existence.
determined, central blue than the lighter blue. It is the more
natural can-

didate to be translated as "blue." Perhaps we would translate the lighter


IMAGINE FURNITURE
blue "cerulean." Such questions need not be arbitrary. Our
bodies
It is time for a thought experiment. Imagine a chair. Get a mental image
No Now answer. That is where the logic of meaning comes from.
of a chair. No problem. Now imagine a bed. problem. a table.
Below the blues in the same panel are two rectangles. Each has four
No problem once more.
arrows of the same length. In the left rectangle, the four arrows are dis-
All these are kinds of furniture. Now try- something different. Try get-
tributed over the four corners of the rectangle and all point to the middle.
ting a mental image of a generalized piece of furniture-not a chair or a
enough to be any Underneath is a directive: "ESTABLISH A COMMON MEETING POINT FOR
table or a bed or a lamp, but something that is general
mentally
EACH SET OF ARROWS." No problem for the left rectangle. I
of them.
who extend the arrows till they meet in the middle.
I can't do it and I've never met anyone can.
The arrows in the right rectangle take some thought. They are
Now, think about how you normally interact with chairs. You have a
arranged in a stack on the right side. The top two are widely separated
motor program for sitting in a chair. Imagine using that motor program
to the right. The bottom two are narrowly separated and point
and point
and sitting in a chair. No problem. You have a normal way of interacting
that motor to the left. How to establish a common meeting point?
w ith a bed, a motor program for lying in a bed. Imagine using
think of the mathematical heroes of my youth-of Bernhard Riemann,
program and lying in a bed. No sweat. I

of August Mdbius, of Felix Klein. I stretch the rectangle in my mind and


Now try this with a generalized piece of furniture-not a
chair or bed or
general type. Do make mental cuts in the plane so that the arrows can bend in different
table or lamp, not a specific kind of furniture but the
that they
twist the stretched pieces of rectangle so
fit

to interact with furni- directions in space. I


you have a motor program that you normally use
in different directions along
around a sphere with the arrows extending
ture in general ?

114 TESTING THE LIMITS OF BRAIN PLASTICITY


their cut-and-stretched pieces of the plane. On the opposite side of the
V u
sphere, the mental extensions of the arrows intersect on the cut, bent, and > \ V

pasted plane. X x x * \
X
It might seem that the arrows in the rectangle on the left pointing to
X X + + * +
the middle meet "naturally" and that the arrows in the rectangle on the -V X
right do not. But /make both sets of arrows meet. There is nothing in
X
either of the sets of arrows themselves that makes them meet. PLEASE THINK ONLY OF THE DOT NOT 01 THE XS .

This is possible because I, like you, embody the mechanism of

meaning.

MAPPINGS
I turn back to the subdivision called 77. Mapping of Meaning. Mapping is

crucial to the creation of meaning. There are exercises. In the fourth


panel (see p. 93, fig. 11.4), there are two columns labeled "A" and "B." In PLEASE TIIINli ONLY 0 TUB DOT NOT Off THE CHICLES.
each column there are four pictures. There are arrows back and forth
The Mechanism of Meaning, Neutralization of Subjectivity panel (detail)
picture in each column, the second picture, and so on.
1. 1

between the first

Between the first set of arrows is written "IS A MAP OF." The first two-way
mapping occurs between (in column A) a picture of an earnest young
man with short hair and (in column B) a picture of a young woman with a club membership. How are they the same, or opposite? Is there a corre-

1950s hairdo. spondence between one's macho maleness and the other's 1950s feminin-

You are called upon to map each onto the other. There are many ity? What exactly is the relationship?
approaches. You might start with a stereotype of each: a man trying to get The next mapping: A is a picture of a woman in a negligee, her breasts

all but revealed; she is shown against a white background. B


is the
ahead in business; a young woman wanting to have a good time for

home suburbs and a country- negative: a black background with the woman's white silhouette cut out.
awhile, then get married and have a in the
How can you turn other things that you see into negative silhouettes?
'

What is the mapping of the breasts onto the white silhouette


The exercise continues: map George Washington onto a baby,
and conversely. Then map a museum scene onto the same scene
upside down.
We perform mappings all the time, but not these. These exercises

call upon us to create new mappings, to be a new mechanism of


meaning.

DON'T THINK OF AN ELEPHANT


In a beginning cognitive-science class, I say to my students, "Don't think

exercise has two points: to exemplify one's power


to
of an elephant." The
instantly; and to experience an order that, if
under-
create mental images

stood, must be violated.


Neutralization of Subjectivity
On the first panel of the subdivision 7.

a similar exercise can be carried out.


There is a rec-
(see p. 55, fig. 1.1),

small unobtrusive dot in the center surrounded


tangular field containing a
noticeable than the dot.
by many Xs. The multitude of Xs are more
Underneath is written "PLEASE THINK ONLY OF THE DOT NOT OF THE
meditation exercise. Even if you try focusing on
X'S." This is a difficult
unconscious, uncontrollable movements,
the dot, the eye, with normal its

the area of the dot over lots of


Xs, which you cannot
will move around
get
you meditatelong enough, it may be possible to
help noticing. But if

The Mechanism of Meaning, 11. Mapping of Meaning,


the dot to be at the center of your consciousness.
panel 4 (detail)

LAKOFF 115
Exercise number 100:

a. Construct a clearly empathic exercise to change someone's mode of


conceptualization.
b. Construct a clearly nonempathic exercise to change someone's
mode of perception.

Exercise number 101:

Create an exercise to illustrate two interpretations of Buddhism.

Interpretation 1: Enlightenment is the achievement of detachment


1>BRCBIV7? A AS B
from our ordinary modes of thought-the achievement of emptiness.
The Mechanism of Meoning, 8. Reassembling, panel 2 Idetoil]

Interpretation 2: Detachment is only stage one; true enlightenment fur-

ther requires the achievement of empathy and nurturance, of com-


passion and compassionate action.

IS DESTINY REVERSIBLE?
Immediately below the dot and Xs is a rectangular field with many The Mechanism of Meaning is enormously rich. A cognitive scientist could
lightly colored circles and no dot. Underneath is written, "PLEASE THINK write volumes about the details of all the exercises and the mental appa-
ONLY OF THE DOT NOT OF THE CIRCLES " But there is no dot there; it ratus required to carry them out. But The Mechanism of Meaning is just the

can only have been imported from the rectangle above if you carried out beginning of the Arakawa and Gins project. It does not exist in a vac-
the first meditation. Then, and only then, will the dot be there. The exer- uum. It is a stepping stone to sites of reversible destiny.

cise trains the viewer to think differendy, to see differently, and to notice moving from The Mechanism of Meaning to "reversible destiny,"
In
that he or she can see differendy. Arakawa and Gins confront a common and not very pretty view of our
current status: The concepts and ways of understanding the world that we
THE SPACE-FILLING CURVE have acquired in the course of human history are leading to disaster. In

Giuseppe Peano, one of the greatest of mathematicians, thought up a the name of "progress" and "development," we are wiping out the natural

curve that would go through every point in a square.' In the second world and the possibility for most human beings to live meaningful, har-

panel of the subdivision 8. Reassembling (see p. 81, fig. 8.2), Arakawa and monious lives. We are destroying forests and rivers and wetlands forever;

Gins have invented a corresponding exercise in which there are two killing off species after species; killing off indigenous cultures and, with
squares, "A" and "B." A has a random, squiggly curve drawn inside it. them, their languages; creating work that is progressively alienating; cre-
B is divided into four subsquares, with the bottom right one dark. The ating a permanent division between an educated overclass and an unedu-
instruction is "PERCEIVE A AS B." To do this you must perform mental cated underclass; and so on.
operations. Move the curve in A to the lower right corner of A, then Not a pretty thought. Is this our destiny? As long as we keep thinking
smear the curve so that its darkness covers all of that lower right corner. the way we now think, there is no end in sight. Can we change how we
Then you are perceiving A as B. The exercise makes you notice the men- think? Then and only then is destiny reversible.
tal operations you normally perform, and it gives you practice in control- What can artists contribute to changing how we think? If our concepts
ling them. arise from the way our bodies interact in the world, can we change our

concepts by changing how we interact? Can artists create an environment


FURTHER ASSIGNMENTS that will force us to notice our concepts and to create new, less harmful
First, work through the exercises in The Mechanism of Meaning [see ones? Can artists disrupt our thought processes by disrupting our bodily
pp. 54-111). Then, construct a series of similar exercises with human experience and thereby make it possible for us to see things afresh, to

beings. The object of your exercises should be to make the participant reconceptualize our experience? That is one way artists might contribute
aware of each of the mental and physical mechanisms with which she or to reversing our destiny.
he is equipped for creating empathy with the "other" and for carrying out

empathic action toward the other. One might, for example, experience NEW BRAINS FOR OLD
the emotion of being whipped by the other's father. Of reacting with Our conceptual systems, our ways of understanding the world, are dis-
anger Of holding one's anger. Of blaming oneself. Of blaming one's tributed over configurations of synaptic connections in our brains. Our
child in later life. Make up ninety-nine such exercises. concepts are physically part of our brains. To get radically new concepts

116 TESTING THE LIMITS OF BRAIN PLASTICITY


Nog, Muveom Contemporary Art.
Ubiqui.ou, SifNogi's Ryoanji-Architectural Body
ol

Jopon, 1992-94

a bathtub, (b) a bed,


unusual places. There is a wall in the middle of: (a)
learn to think in a sig-
is to get new synaptic weights and connections. To a bathtub if there is a wall
a desk, (d) a stove, and (e) a toilet. Is it
of our brains. Short of surgery, (c)
different way requires a rewiring a wall through
Does your mental image of a bathtub have
nificantly it?
through it?
how can we learn to think anew? bathtub with a wall through it? If not, why is it a
how much is not Can you bathe in a
Our brains do have significant plasticity; exactly objects? Maybe
bathtub at all? What makes the bathtub and wall separate
some new tricks. But how? The
known. Even us old dogs can learn wall and a bathtub as separate objects
they aren't Why do we see a
our concepts are grounded
answer through experience. Since many of so that the wall is down the
middle of
located with respect to each other
is

in bodily experience, perhaps


providing new bodily experience can bathtub-wall object? Could we.
the bathtub? Whv don't we
see a single
brain and allow us to see the ,mage
accomplish an appropriate rewiring of the we lived there long enough? What would it be like to
Could we if

world anew. a single object? Could we make it a an-

it as a single object? To use it as

gle basic-level object?


cate-
WALLS _ .
.hese questions about (b)
through (e). How do your extsUng
1993-95, constructed
Ask
Arakawa and Gins's Site of Reversible DesUny-Yoro, what you see and how you unagrne yourself functtomng
has walls in gories determine
on 18,000 square meters of land in Gifu Prefecture, Japan,

IAKOFF 117
What Every time we perceive a scene, we automatically and unconsciously
(1) in the world at large and (2) in a site of reversible destiny?
derives from the
What would be disrupted? What would structure it using these schemas. Our spatial reasoning
would it be like to live at the site?
structure that these image-schemas give to our mental images and our
you have to rethink? How would you have to move your body?
perceptions. The elementary schemas appear not to change or vary

across time or cultures. Terry Regier's research, published


in his book
IMAGE-SCHEMAS
The Human Semantic Potential, suggests that our elementary image-schemas
Objects are all over the place. There is an infinity of ways to position
from inborn structures of our bodies and brains, plus very
basic
objects in space relative to one another. How do we cope with that arise
elementary image-schemas
'
common experiences.' It appears that such
infinity
are going to be with us whether our destiny is reversed or not.
understand the rela-
Cognitive linguists have discovered that people
small number of elemen- However, our concepts are to be changed, our current complex
if
tionships between things in space in terms of a image-schema.
"image-schemas." Imagine a cup on a images will have to be disassembled, image-schema by
tary schematic mental images, or possible.
The cup is in contact with the Disassembling our images sounds both scary and not clearly
table. The relation "on" has three parts: (1)
What do Arakawa and Gins have in mind?
table. (2) It is vertically oriented with respect to the table. And (3) it is sup-
Pages 31 through 60 (a "Notebook") in Arakawa and Gins's publication
Not every language has a concept "On," but every
ported by the table.
Architecture: Sites of Reversible Destiny is a walk through the process of con-
Orientation," and
language has the concepts "Contact," "Vertical 7
The artists start with an
version from the ordinary to the reversible site.
-Support." Each of these is an elementary image-schema. Others include:
a coffee table,
"Path" (defining to and from), "Part- ordinary living room: two armchairs, two couches, a lamp,
-Container" (defining in and out),
two windows. Then
cups of coffee, a spoon, walls, a floor, a door,
We have basic two
Whole," "Center-Periphery," "Balance," and so on. also
Perceptually, landing sites are
legs, front, back) and basic face- they add the concept of a "landing site."
body-schemas (head, trunk, arms, places where your
places where your glance rests. Physically, they are
schema s. configura-
of a collection of body interacts with an object. Conceptually, they are mental
Every complex mental image we have is made up
tions that shape your spatial understanding and thus allow your mind to
For example, in a mental image of a
these elementary image-schemas.
In short, the car rest in a configuration.
car, there will be an interior and an exterior of the car.
Arakawa and Gins you to create new landing
see their job as forcing
external surface of the
will be structured by a container schema, with the reconfiguring your old ones.
using a front- sites by systematically removing and
be schematized
car as the boundary. Moreover, the car will blocked.
having a The body is redirected; the paths to the old landing sites are
back schema; that's jargon for saying we conceptualize
it as
sites are installed, new paths to physical landing
New perceptual landing
front and a back.

Resemblances House, Site of Reversible Destiny -Yoro


lienor ei of Crititol
Chi Prefecture Japan 1993-95

118 TESTING THE LIMITS OF BRAIN PLASTICITY


Landing Sites Studies of an Ordinary Room, 1 993-94

With each glance, a limited number ol perceptual landing utei deliver salient features ol the view,

and imaging landing tiles fill m the gaps An ordinary living room is shown with and without

imaging landing sites in place to fill in the gaps

made body receives for how to move so as to make its way past the walls
sites inserted. Straight paths are made curved, level paths are to

There on the lower level will be directly contradicted by the orders for
undulate. Contradictions-physical contradictions-are introduced.
movement that the wall placement in the upper patterned segments
is no longer a way to make unambiguous sense of
the room. Thus, the
Identical sets of furniture stand similarly positioned
one
implies
affected. You can no longer just walk through the room
with
body is
above the other within the upper and the lower altered labyrinths,
your old body posture. The body must change. "Nothing is more desir-
upside down from the
balance drastically," Arakawa with the furniture of the upper region hanging
able than that the body be thrown off

and Gins declare. Size


8
is changed. The cup and spoon are made huge. ceiling.'

into the cup, but not drink from The artists have done
You can climb it.

ART AS DISRUPTION
their job:
Here, as I understand it, is the logic of Arakawa and Gins: The increasing

violence and destruction in the world-physical, ecological, economic,


The Reversible Destiny House I is a means of unraveling a person to the
a product of our present modes of thought.
House II] the orders the social, and emotional-are all
fullest possible extent. ... [In Reversible Destiny

LAKOFF 119
love the koanlike quality of The Mechanism of Meaning. I love the way
If the cruelty is to end, our concepts must change. Since concepts are I

challenges our normal modes of thought and perception and leads to


the brain and grounded in the body, our brains
ii
physically encoded in
must new ones, or leads nowhere and leaves us with a puzzle.
and bodies must change. If art is to play a role for the good, it dis-

brains and our I like the physical form the architectural koans take in the sites of
rupt our concepts, our normal ways of functioning-our
reversible destiny-the denial of old forms of physical experience
and the
as a moral force. Disruption is an aesthetic
bodies. Art as disruption is art

experience of this kind is inherently moral. creation of new ones.


experience, and an aesthetic
believe with Arakawa and Gins that their disruption of our everyday
Moreover, disruptive art on a large-enough scale will be sufficient to I

consciousness and the physical experience that grounds it can serve a


destruction can end.
reverse our destiny, so that the violence and
moral purpose.

PHYSICAL KOANS
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THAT FERRET?
The work of Arakawa and Gins reminds me of Zen koans. It is as if the

The Mechanism ofMeaning Shortly after read about the ferret whose eyes were connected to its
I
koans were put in the form of conceptual art in
auditory cortex I asked, through the neuroscience grapevine,
what hap-
form of architecture in the Site of Reversible Destiny-Yoro. Zen
and in the
mode of thought, to pened to that ferret. Did it learn to see with its auditory cortex or hear
koans are meant to disrupt the seeker's conventional
visual input?
detach the seeker from it, and to enable the seeker to perceive and com-
categories. The answer is that it heard visual input.
prehend without the mediation of conventional

Landing Silej Study of an Ordinary Room 1993-94

120 TESTING THE LIMITS OF BRAIN PLASTICITY


Did flowers and the sunrise sound beautiful? Were its ears hooked up child by the age of three spontaneously learns a simple version of the
to its visual cortex? Did it learn to see what we hear? Did the voices of moral order: people above higher animals above lower animals above
ferrets of the opposite sex look good? plants above inanimate objects. Children learn this hierarchy by noticing
Sadly, the ferret did not survive-and could not have survived. It lived similarities and differences between themselves and other things in the

just long enough to hear a tiny part of the visual world, just long enough world. The moral order, in which people are above the rest of nature, is

for its auditory cortex to develop a bit of neural structure of the kind in fundamental conflict with deep ecology. Sites of reversible destiny, so

found in the visual cortex. far as I can tell, cannot change much, if any, of this.

Brains are structured in an extremely complex and subtle way, and


massive rewiring is not really viable. STRONG REVERSIBLE DESTINY
So far, I have not given the idea of reversible destiny its full due. I have
ARE THERE LIMITS TO PLASTICITY? I EXPRESS SOME DOUBTS only described the weak version, the version that seeks to eliminate the
Is the bad news for the ferret also bad news for reversible destiny? Are murdering of species and of the nonhuman natural world, that seeks to

there limits to how we can learn to think anew? There is a case to be eliminate cruelty and war and economic slavery and emotional despair.

made for such limits. Here is a short version of that case: The strong version seeks much more: the elimination of death itself.

First, the major part of our system of concepts is universal and arises The artists do not merely mean the prolongation of life, a prolongation

spontaneously around the world. Biology and physics are largely respon- to come from constant renewal of the mind and body through new kinds
sible. We all have basically the same kinds of bodies and brains. We all of functioning. A look at yoga and tai chi masters tells us that life can, in

live in a gravitational field, manipulate objects, eat and excrete, perceive, special cases, be prolonged for a while.

interact with other people, move about in our environment, stand erect The artists do not merely mean the elimination of metaphorical death,

and balanced, and so on. Sites of reversible destiny cannot change this, the death of not thinking new kinds of thoughts. They believe that the

and should not. And yet, these most basic of experiences shape much of present reversible destiny constructions might eliminate that kind of

what is universal about our conceptual systems-our basic conceptions of death, but that is not enough.
10
Arakawa and Gins really do mean the elimination of death itself \ They
time, events, causation, purpose, even morality.
Many of these concepts are metaphorical, as when we conceptualize take death as an affront, an insult to the human spirit, to artistic innova-

time as flowing by, or see purposes as destinations we are trying to reach, tion. I don't believe they really think that an existing site (such as Site of

Reversible Destiny-Yoro) can in itself accomplish the elimination of death.


orwhen we balance the moral books. Such forms of metaphorical
Rather, they would probably say, one has to start somewhere and at least
thought are not arbitrary nor are they changeable. They arise and are sus-
tained by the most basic and unchangeable of experiences, like the corre- ask the question.

lation between motion and time, or by the fact that to achieve everyday But should one?

purposes we have to go to certain locations-to get a drink of water, you


WOULD THE ELIMINATION OF DEATH BE A GOOD THING?
have to go to the water fountain, the stream, the tap, or the well.
They are find myself, against my will, in a Woody Allen movie. I am the
Our most basic concepts are also sustained in other ways. I

out what to remember lunkheaded, timid, whiny shortsighted professor usually played by
sustained in memory. We use our concepts to pick
time played by me, since Wally is unavailable,
in large part in terms of our basic concepts.
Wallace Shawn, but this
and we remember at least
Our and look more like myself anyway.
Memory creates conceptual stability. Then there is language. lan- I

run into Woody at the Guggenheim, at the Arakawa and Gins exhibi-
guage isbased on our conceptual systems. Every time we think, talk, or I

He recognizes me from the picture in my book. We debate about


our language, we are reinforcing our basic conceptual systems.
tion.
read in
think would
we use. Even the grammatical con- whether the elimination of death would be a good thing. I it

This is not just a matter of the words


have meanings that make use of those concepts. be a disaster.
structions of our language

way that our concepts are instantiated in our brains


makes
Finally, the
could the elimination of death be disaster? Think
disrupted and discarded. A concept is not stored in WOODY: How itself ll

them unlikely to be
Mozart were still alive! Or Einstein! Or Mr. Weinstein who made
one neuron. A concept is distributed over whole popula-
one place or in
die or are disrupted, enough of the great egg creams!
tions of neurons. Even if many neurons
GEORGE: Or Hitler. Or Stalin. Or Roy Cohn.
likely to remain.
the activation pattern that characterizes a concept is

WOODY: But think of eternal life! You could watch Night and Fog into
most basic concepts are not all that plastic.
In short, our
human beings into eternity.
Moreover, it is the basic concepts that have gotten kill the cells.
of gain and loss, and of progress GEORGE: With Alzheimer's? With cancer? You couldn't
their present fix. The ideas of purpose, Think of
your mouth.
disrupted away. Each With no teeth? You couldn't kill the germs in
toward a goal are fundamental and not likely to be

LAKOFF 121
how everyone would smell. With my great-aunt Lena? Could you
put up with her forever? Dr. Kevorkian has a point.

A few more turns and the scene ends. Woody walks off with a beautiful

voung girl intent on discussing film theory. They pass a group of old men
who look remarkably like Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Roy Cohn.

1 "Ferrets Looking Loudly. Hear the Light." Scirnct News, December 10, 1988

2 Fbl Wive) of the tenets of objective philosoph) see George LakofT. Women. Fm, and Dangerous Things

It hai Categories Ratal Ahoul theMind [Chicago University of Chicago Press, 1987
I In writing this essav. 1 consulted Arakaw.i and Madeline fins Uu \itdumism of Meaning, new 3rd ed
I

Vu York Abbeville Press, 1988

dna E Kramer. lh, Satuu and GrOtt lh ofModtm Mathematics NVu York Hawthorne Books, 1970
and Beyond A Cultural History of the Infinite [Princeton: Princeton
pp 528-29; and EL Maor, To Infinity
Universit) Press, 1991 pp .

-5 See LakofT. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things


Reiner. The Human Semantic Potential iCambndge. Mass MIT lVess, 1996
"
Arakaua and Gins. Architecture Sites ofReeenibh Dtstin) London Academy Editions, 1994 pp il 60

P *'
!' Ibid., pp 87, 99.
Mark Johnson. The Bod\ in the Mind The Bodih Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason [Chicago

Universit) of Chicago Press, 1987 . LakofT, Women. lire, and Dangerous Thingr, LakofT. "The Contemporary

Theory of Metaphor." in A Ortony. ed . Metaphor and Thought (Cambridge. Cambridge Universit) Press
LakofT. Moral Politics What Conservatives Know that Liberals Don 7 IChicago: Universit) "I Chii ago

Press, 1996); and Regicr. The Human Semantic Potential

Elliptical Field, Site of Reversible Destiny Yoro


Gifu Prefecture. Japan. 1993-95

122 TESTING THE LIMITS OF BRAIN PLASTICITY


Bridge of Reversible Deshny/The Process in Question. 1973-89 rhe floor plan runs alongside the model in exact correlation, so thai the region of the bridge before which the viewer stands corre-
Plostie. wire mesh and wood. 42 feet x 1 3 feel 10 inches x 5 leel 101 inchei overoll sponds with the oreo on the plan upon which the viewer stands The viewers engagement with the wori altered by standing on the
jj

Included .n Building Sensoriumj. Ronold Fddmon F,ne Arts. New York. September-October 1990 floor plan and gripping the rope thai extends along the right hand side
Saving
Not
MARK C TAYLOR

Unfailingly the blank returns. -Stephane Mallarme Assembly of Latent Perceivers


Cradle of Reassembly

Forming Inextinguishability

The object of perception was strange-distressingly strange. This was no Within and between the rooms, there were layers upon layers of black
ordinary work of art. Neither painting, nor sculpture, nor architecture, mesh that simultaneously transformed once solid walls into sites of pas-
but something else . . . something other. At first glance, the object seemed sage and impeded movement. In some rooms, there was no room-only
more scientific than artistic. It appeared to be something like a high-tech an endless tissue of mesh; in other rooms, there was nothing but room-
particle accelerator, a design for a future nuclear reactor, or even a model only the uncanny darkness of seemingly empty space. All of this was sus-

for an extraterrestrial colony. But as I examined the object more care- pended, or was supposed to be suspended, above a river, the Moselle
fully, it slowly became apparent that it was a plan for a bridge-a bridge River in Epinal, France. A suspension bridge, a bridge of suspens< a

unlike any other that has ever been built: Bridge of Reversible Destiny/The bridge that suspends.
Process in Question, 1973-89. Long, low, and sleek, the black monochro-
matic model was comprised of geometric shapes: spheres, cubes, cylin- How?
ders, pyramids, circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles. The Bridge was Where?
simple, yet complex; rooms inside rooms, rooms above rooms, rooms Why?
below rooms combined to create a bridge of bridges. Neither one nor
many, the Bridge was undeniably duplicitous. The rooms that emptied the
space of the Bridge bore perplexing names:
The space of the bridge is a nonspace; its site is a nonsite. The bridge is

Bodily Conjecture at Light suspended along a border, margin, boundary, in an interval, gap, cleav-

In the Recesses of the Communal Stare age. The place of the bridge is the nonplace of the between where here

The New Missing Link and now are suspended. This between, which is forever oscillating, brings

Diffuse Receding Gauge together what it holds apart and holds apart what it brings together. "The

Companion to Indeterminacy bridge," Martin Heidegger avers, "swings over the stream 'with ease and

Volume Bypass power'":

Points of Departure Membranes


The Where of Nowhere It does not just connect banks that are already there. The banks
emerge as banks only as the bridge crosses the stream. The bridge
Edges of Apprehending
designedly causes them to lie across from each other. . . . The bridge
Inflected Geometry
gathers the earth as landscape around the stream. . . . Even where the
Accrual Matrix
bridge covers the stream, it holds its flow up to the sky b\ taking it for
The Planet s Cry
a moment under the vaulted gateway and then setting it free once
Than Which No Otlm
more. The bridge lets the stream run its course and at the same
Die/The Helen Keller Room
. . .

To Not to
time grants their way to mortals so that they may come and go from
Reverse -Symmetry Transverse- Envelope Hall
shore to shore Bridges lead in many ways Always and ever
Gaze Brace

125
II UN I Ml AfMR
inik\m I WAYS
im I

, INSIAI
l-M. >v I

i.iss. u IfTK INS '


SPA< imi
i i

Bl 'l -n > IN I Ml
l
.-. ii i
ii .1 REl ESSI --"i POINTS HPI I.I. W. .IN. ...... s.,| IMMI. ,,,,
-
mi i
0MM1 N m .Mirsiv, . ,, .IrHIIIIMUNI, "IK>
.....M,
V " ""Al
SI \KI
II Mill; \NI S l-AXN NOWHURI MAIHI\

Floor plan for Bridge of Reversible Destiny /The Process i Question 1973-79
Pencil on paper 2i 72 inches

"Bridges lead (and mislead] in many ways." But how many ways? And not one but two-two who
art is (at least) often seem to be one or almost How can art continue in the shadow of such a disaster? Though our
where do these ways lead?
one. But the textual weave that Arakawa and Gins fashion is even more world is admittedly "postutopian," Arakawa and Gins insist not only that
complex than this duplicity suggests. Their work is intrinsically incom- art must continue but that art still has the power to save. If hope remains,
plete and inherently open-ended. It is filled (or not filled) with holes, fis- it is hope nurtured by the work of art. In the midst of death and destruc-
sures, faults, and gaps. These gaps open the space-time that draws the tion, art teaches how "To Not to Die."
Arakawa is one of the most intensely philosophical-perhaps even theo- viewer-reader into the work of Arakawa and
art. Gins's work cannot be
logical-artists now working. From the outset, his concerns are not only passively received; must be actively apprehended. This apprehension Clement Greenberg argues
it is that Kant is "the first real modernist. The
aesthetic. Since, unlike so many artists, Arakawa realizes that aesthetics a reproduction that is not simply a repetition of the same but is the articu- essence of modernism," according to Greenberg, "lies in the use of the
and metaphysics are inseparable, his artistic investigations presuppose lation of something different. To grasp the work of art is to collaborate in characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself-not
philosophical interrogations. The intricate interplay of art and philosophy the labor of production. The art of Arakawa and Gins issues an invita- in order to subvert it, but to entrench it more firmly in its area of compe-
is graphically displayed in his innovative work The Mechanism of Meaning, tion: "Come! Join us in the work of art." Those who accept this solicita- tence. Kant used logic to establish the limits of logic, and while he with-
1963-73, 1996 (see pp. 54-111). The Mechanism ofMeaningis something tion gradually realize that to enter the Bridge of Reversible Destiny is to drew much from its old jurisdiction, logic was left in all the more secure
like a philosophico-aesthetic workbook that formulates questions, poses begin a journey that is irreversible. For Arakawa and Gins and their col- possession of what remained to it."' To be modern, then, is not only to be
paradoxes, and explores conundrums. Though elegant in their own way, laborators, the work of art is not an autonomous aesthetic object but is, in critical but to be self-critical. Self-criticism presupposes the structure of
the panels included in this work are not guided by primarily aesthetic the final analysis, the perceiving subject. The work of art, in other words, reflexivity in which the knowing subject takes itself as its own object.

concerns. Nor are they simply conceptual. Rather, Arakawa probes the is nothing less than oneself. Within this framework, the only art worthy of Kant's so-called "Copernican Revolution" extends the turn to the subject
space where concept and figure, as well as word and image, intersect. the name is an art that saves-saves not only itself but also saves the sub- with which Descartes initiates modern philosophy. Modern philosophy is,

While Arakawa's art is undeniably modern in its ambitions and purposes, ject by allowing the self to lose itself. Saving art struggles to save art by first and foremost, a philosophy of the subject. The modern subject, in
Bridge of Reversible Destiny /The Process in Question (detail) he consistently rejects the modernist doctrine of the autonomy of the refiguring the art of saving in a world deserted by the gods. turn, is a constructive subject who creates the world in his or her own
Pedestrians will have to step around the stone sphere to enter the bridge
work of art. His painterly surfaces are interrupted by objects, found While the art of Arakawa and Gins is, as I have suggested, undeniably image. Though not immediately evident, Kantian critical philosophy

images, and, most important, words-some written, some stenciled, others modern, their work does not simply repeat well-established modern doc- actually reinscribes classical ontology in modern epistemology. Since the

reproduced in collage. Conversely, the written text trines and techniques. To the contrary, they develop a critical art that time of Plato, the process of creation has been interpreted as involving a
is interrupted by
objects, found images, and, most important, painterly surfaces that are responds to certain failures of modernism. Modernism is irrepressibly synthesis of form and matter. In Plato's myth of origins, the world is cre-

differently the bridge escorts the lingering and hastening ways of men often blank. Text supplements painting Utopian. Though ideas and images of the promised land vary, much ated through the activity of a Demiurge, who brings together the tran-
and painting supplements text in
to and fro, so that they may get to other banks and in the end, as mor- a play of supplements that subverts the classical opposition twentieth-century art takes over the redemptive role once played by reli- scendent eternal forms and the chaotic flux of matter. Kant translates the
between con-
tals, to the other side. The bridge gathers, as a passage that crosses, cept and figure, gion. From this perspective, art provides what Schiller describes as an form/matter distinction into epistemological structures. While the
word and image, and philosophy and art.
. . .

before the divinities-whether we explicitly think of, and visibly give "aesthetic education," which prepares the way for the realization of the Platonic forms become forms of intuition and categories of understand-
The textual supplements at work in Arakawa's works extend beyond
thanks for, their presence, as in the figure of the saint of the bridge, or ideal society.' The dreams of modernity, however, turn into terrifying ing, matter reappears as the sensible manifold of intuition. The stuff of
the frame of the canvas. Works frame texts that reframe works. In this
whether that divine presence is obstructed or even pushed wholly nightmares. From the ovens of Auschwitz, to the scorched earth of sensation is, in William James's apt phrase, a "bloomin', buzzin' confu-
intricate tissue of supplements that creates art,Arakawa never works
aside. The bridge gathers to itself in its own way earth and sky, divinities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Utopian hopes are turned to ash. Art after sion," until it is ordered and organized by the structures of intuition and
alone; his art is essentially collaborative. The texts that inform his work
and mortals. understanding. In a manner analogous to the Platonic Demiurge, the
whose depth cannot be fathomed.
1

are written in cooperation with Hiroshima bears the trace of a wound


Madeline Gins. The origin of the work of

TAYLOR 127
126 SAVING NOT
knowing subject creates the world by uniting form and matter. Though same, which we represent to ourselves not as empirical subjects, but inso-

the process of world-making is subjective, it is not, according to Kant, far as we are all one light and participate in the One without dividing it."'

idiosyncratic. Like Plato's archetypes, Kant's human forms of intuition The pure light of this transparent moment is supposed to reveal absolute

and categories of understanding are universal and immutable. knowledge.

Consequently, constructive subjects create a shared world in which com- From Merleau-Ponty's point of view, the embodied subject can never

mon structures unite otherwise separate individuals. There is, however, a attain absolute knowledge. Consciousness and self-consciousness harbor a

significant price to be paid for this unity. Since they are universal and blindness that cannot be overcome. Reflection, he contends, "recuperates

unchangeable, the forms of intuition and categories of understanding con- everything except itself as an effort of recuperation, it clarifies everything

stitute an irreversible destiny for the knowing subject. Epistemic struc- except its own role. The mind's eye too has its blind spot, but, because it

tures, in other words, are unavoidable. is of the mind, one cannot be unaware of it, nor treat it as a simple state

Arakawa and Gins undertake in their art is to reverse the of nonvision, which requires no particular mention, the very act of reflec-
The task that
7

seemingly irreversible destiny of the modern subject. Toward this end, tion that is quoad nos [up until our time] its act of birth." To glimpse the

they develop something like what Maurice Merleau-Ponty describes as a mind's blind spot, one must deconstruct the modern subject.

"phenomenology of perception." The importance of Arakawa and 4


The modern subject, I have stressed, is a constructive subject that cre-

Gins's artwork emerges clearly when their interrogation of the art of per- ates the world in its own image. Over against Kant and his followers, who
contrasted with Merleau-Ponty's philosophical phenomenology argue that the subject is active even in perception, Merleau-Ponty main-
ception is

of perception. tains that the mind is primordially passive. At the rudimentary level of

Merleau-Ponty formulates his phenomenology of perception in perception, the subject does not constitute the world. To the contrary, the
most complete world "preconstituted" independently of the activity of the knowing
response to the philosophy of reflection, which receives its is

articulation in Hegel's phenomenology of spirit. Hegel's speculative inter- subject. The most basic order or structure of the world, in other words, is

not created by the constructive subject. "Thought cannot ignore its appar-
pretation of the reflexivity of subjectivity brings to completion the analy-
sis of the structure of self-consciousness begun by Kant. Merleau-Ponty ent history, if it is not to install itself beneath the whole of our experience,
in a pre-empirical order where it would no longer merit its name; it must
argues that:
put to itself the problem of the genesis of its own meaning. It is in terms

metamorphoses the effective world into a of its intrinsic meaning and structure that the sensible world is 'older'
the philosophy of reflection
doing so only puts me back at the origin of a than the universe of thought."" The intrinsic order of the world is appre-
transcendental field; in it

unbeknown to myself, hended by means of perception. Rather than chaotic flux, perception dis-
spectacle that I could never have had unless, I

closes an inherent order that inaccessible to cognition. "If pretend to


It only makes me consciously what I have always been
is I
organized it.

through reflection, in the universal mind the premise that had


distractedly; it only makes me give its name to a dimension behind find,

myself, a depth whence, in fact, already my vision was formed. always backed up my experience, I can do so only by forgetting this non-

Through reflection, the "I," lost in its perceptions, rediscovers itself by knowing of the beginning, which is not nothing, and which is not the

rediscovering them [i.e., perceptions] as thoughts. [The "I"] thought it reflective truth either, and for which I must also account.'"' The purpose
them; comes to realize that of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of perception is to recollect the non-
had quit itself for them, deployed itself in it

if it had quit itself, they would not be and that the very deployment of knowing of reflection. Such remembering does not transform nonknowl-
edge into knowledge but exposes the inevitable failure of reflection and,
the distances and the things was only the "outside" of its own inward
intimacy with itself, that the unfolding of the world was the enfolding thus, the unavoidable partiality of knowledge.

on itself of a thought that thinks anything whatever only because it Arakawa