In Everything and Nothing, Jorge Luis Borges wrote: “ I have made a decision. I said to myself: since I have lost the beloved world of appearances I must create something else.”
Artist Edith Dekyndt’s work create the “something else” to which Luis Borges refers. Through her pieces we are aware of things directly “out of sight”, where she lures the unseen into substance, engaging a deceptively simple study of phenomena. Her works encourage us to cross the threshold to the world of the barely noticeable, through a profound and individual encounter with the abstract elements of air, sound, odours, humidity, magnetic forces and electricity: things we do not look for normally, but feel. In Dekyndt’s work, the imperceptible Is made perceptible. She conveys the indistinct and remote, and, trough a number of metaphorical sites, close-ups and blurs, she moves us toward impressionistic observation. Dekyndt lives and works in Belgium, where she founded the group, Universal Research of Subjectivity in 1999. The collaborative work of this group centre on the idea of possibilities. For her investigation she does not choose a single medium nor does she seek to make a contribution to a set of preconceived perceptions or knowledge. Her works are phenomenological in scope: any meaning that is derived emerges from within the subject. Moving away from traditional representation, she makes use of images, texts and films, and prefers to present and aestheticize observable facts rather than analyzes them. For Dekynft, we live in a world of fragmentation and non-linearity; our lives are saturated with messages and signifying systems. So much comes into our vision and auditory paths that it is absent and unnotices comings and going that absorb her. In this sense, her works deal with the possibility of something happening.
Her recent exhibition, “Two White Pieces”, at Arch 2 Gallery, at the University of Manitoba’s School of Architecture, was curated by Richard Perron and Neil Minuk. One, Myodesopsies 04 (Probable Song), located around the school’s Russel Building courtyard, is a sound installation from 2005. The second works, Dreamachine(s), 2006, is a video installation and continuation of Dekyndt’s commitment to the work of Brion Gysin and Ian Sommerville’s project, which was conceived in the early ‘60s. Gysin’s machine was a tool invented by him for trips into the mind. The idea was to look into the dream machine with closed eyes; after a few minutes, three-dimensional visions would appear that turned in your head.
Myodesopsies 04 (Probable Song) began in 2001. The term itself explains the phenomenon in which we see specks of dust floating at the surface of our eyes. These specks of dust are remaining fibres from the embryonic state of the body. They are notices when you look at the white wall, or the sky. Originally, this installation was conceived as a film project-white on white-where a text emerges slowly.
In the Arch 2 installation of Myodesopsies 04 (Probable Song), Dekyndt asked a group of musicians of singers to interpret the original text into song. The song and simultaneous experience of the specks of dust worked to provide the visitor with a personal cinematic experience. The song would stay in your mind as if you were the only one who heard it, suggested Dekyndt. She chose the Russel Building courtyard because for her, it was a reminiscent of Japanese architecture. When you enter the courtyard, it is airy and open despite being enclosed within a glass and steel frame. In this space, she created a continuous indoor-outdoor relationship, using minimal materials. Those that stand out in the pieces play with the natural and artificial. She painted the courtyard’s wooden picnic tables in aluminium paint to reflect the skylight and work in relation to the steel and glass surface transparencies, which appear as a house of mirrors that goes on to infinity, a mise en abyme. Standing in the space, I feel limitless, transported through layered reflections of time and space. The text portion of this work was placed inside the upper window at a level where the sky meet the glass, which forced visitors to in the direction of the sky. In order to see the sentences and understand the text, it was necessary to go outside. Depending on the sun and time of day, the text may appear and disappear. Dekyndt’s hope was that the dust particles would appear in our eyes when we looked at the ground, so long as it was covered in snow. And while we looked and read the emerginf and disappearing text, the songs mimicked a radio playing music of different genres; reggae, rock, pop, electro. After listening Dekyndt says, we would hear that the lyrics are all the same. In this sense we are lulled into a dream space and trance state.
“ Dreams are an aesthetic work, perhaps the most ancient aesthetic expression”, wrote Borges. Dekyndt’s Dreammachine(s) is an understanding she shares with Gysin, both of them recognizing the mesmerizing quality of dream spaces. She wondered whether it would be possible to reproduce the Newton circle in the work, with a video editing program. To find out, she placed three primary colours together and had them play infinitely. She managed, then, to produce the phenomena of whiten whicj allowed the visitor to experience a stroboscopic apparition, making it possible for the brain to descend to alpha waves and keep the eyes wide open. In this way, her work mirror, and are directly influenced by the trance rhythms produces in the approach of Brion Gysin’s Dream Machine.
The piece is compelling because it urges us to see in a new way and it allows the brain to become and other lens for focusing our feelings, desires and self-knowledge. The human brain holds inside itself a volume of data and is confronted by innumerable electronic energy fields. Dekyndt’s Dreammachine(s)
helps us harness those energies and use them as focusing devices. Repetition not only opens pathways to memories, but also serves us as a core to human experience; it is not only the place in which memories live, but where ideas proliferate? “Two White Pieces” is best appreciated, as Joyce wrote in Ulysses, when you “shut your eyes and see”. And though we may lose sight of the world appearances, Dekyndt shows us that there are many strata for looking and many doors to perception.