Friday, January 12, 2007

Baroque Notebook

“There’s been much interest lately, from a number of quarters, in a postmodern Baroque—that is, an art that accepts its dependence on previous eras and revels in it, rather than approaching it on coy tiptoes.”

Age of Enlightenment: a dance piece in which a female dancer does strip-club pole-dance-type movments while being fitted with a corset.

“Pop as the universal code, the lowest common denominator of all societies plugged into the global consumption circulation. It is the new high culture of urban, metropolitan culture, and is especially virulent at the peripheries - which is almost everywhere, today. Music and theater perhaps show the New more clearly than the visual arts do. The era of postmodern baroque seeks a sensualism; beauty as affirmation of the world means a new socialization, or at least the opportunity for a new socialization...”

Umberto Eco: “[In the Baroque form] what is denied is the static and unequivocal definition of the classic Renaissance form, of the space developed around a central axis, delimited by symmetrical lines and closed angles, connected in the center, so to suggest more an idea of ‘essential’ eternity than of movement. The Baroque form is, on the other hand, dynamic; it tends to an indeterminacy effect... and it suggests a progressive dilatation of the space, the search for movement and for illusionist effects determines the fact that Baroque plastic masses never allow a privileged, frontal, definite vision, but they always induce the observer to move continuously to see the work under always new aspects, as if it were in continuous metamorphosis. If Baroque spirituality is seen as the first clear manifestation of modern culture and sensibility, it is because here, for the first time, humans evade the habit of the canonic ... and find themselves, in art as much as in science, in front of a world in movement which demands from them acts of invention” (Opera aperta, pp. 100-101)

Mieke Bal, "Baroque Bodies and the Ethics of Vision," at "[T]he first thing that characterizes 'the Baroque' is an engagement with the human body.” "The Baroque fold emblematizes the point of view in which the subject must give up its autonomy in order to become implicated in the bodies that Serrano creates." "The traces of Baroque materialism in Serrano's images of white fabric and finely wrinkled hands suggest an aesthetic nostalgia. This is nostalgia for an aesthetic and for a sensibility that never existed before the subject of the memory —here, the contemporary artist- infused it with correlative engagement. Nostalgia accounts for the subjective sentiment that substantiates cultural memory as collective yet subjective." "Nostalgia can be defined as a longing for a past that never existed; a past is called upon to provide what the present lacks. Thus, the value that nostalgia may have depends on the way this sentiment provides guidelines for a critical utopianism in the present, for a struggle towards a better future. Idealizing
the past can assume all the different values that any discursive act allows, depending on context and use."

"The baroque is a matter of projecting and reflected forms, a suggestion of possible compositions instead of the classical art of cylindrical or rounded forms arrayed on a grid constructed according to the principles of disappearing perspective.” And: “Baroque form is a matter of conic sections, piercing or warping the frame, of curls and folds barely sketched by the tip of the brush.”

From a Village Voice review of The Tears of the Black Tiger, a "pad thai Western": "This yearning to recover a lost authenticity through self-reflexive artifice—a sort of synthetic sincerity—is a quintessential 21st-century mode.”

Borges: "The baroque as that style that deliberately exhausts (or tries to exhaust) its own possibilities, and that borders on self-caricature.”

How do visual or musical motifs translate into poetry? Bach’s elaborations and transformations of the same theme: Goldberg variations. Variations on Goldberg. Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, the harpsichordist who performed them as a cure for his patron’s insomnia. “Quodlibet” the 30th variation, probably intended as a joke, according to Bach’s biographer evocative of improvisatory, bawdy musical games played during Bach family reunions. “Whatever” precedes the affecting return of the initial “Aria” which all the variations are variants of.

“hyperbolic, circular, ornate”

Baroque thought as alternative rationality opposed to the Enlightenment rationality of Ockham’s razor: instead of reducing objects to fit the available principles, multiply principles to suit the available objects.

Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier notes proliferation of columns in Havana architecture. Baudelaire's vivants piliers.

Double motion of a spiral staircase: up/down and in circles, centrifugal and centripetal movement. Baroque helix.

Baroque is a style, a form of movement: social formalism is the intention of that movement, excess recruited so as to destabilize social identities and formations as given by capitalism.

Making the invisible audible, the inaudible visible.

Baroque populism.


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