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FERO CORPUM FERRI An exploration of the role of human physiology against a backdrop of ever increasing mechanical supplantation. BY DAVID BENNETT A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Art New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Ba chelor of Arts in Art Under the sponsorship of Kim Anderson Sarasota, Florida April 2010
i TABLE OF CONTENTS Image List ii Abstract iv Artist Statement v Between Anatomy and Automata 1 A Collaged Perspec ti ve 10 Inner and Outer Worlds 17 Works Cited 20 Images 21
ii IMAGE LIST 1 David Bennett, Absorption 2010, acrylic on panel, 34 x 48 inches. 2 David Bennett, Transference 2010, acrylic on panel, 34 x 48 inches 3 David Bennett, Parallax 2010, acrylic on panel, 34 x 48 inches 4 David Bennett, Accumulator 2010, acrylic on panel, 34 x 48 inches 5 David Bennett, Helix 2010, ac rylic on panel, 4 8 x 34 inches 6 David Bennett, To Yr Halls From the Nursery 2010, acrylic on panel, 34 x 48 inches 7 D avid Bennett, Innerchamber 2010, ink on watercolor paper, 7 x 11 inches. 8 David Bennett, Expansion 2010, ink on watercolor paper, 11 x 14 inches. 9 David Bennett, Positioning 2010, ink on watercolor paper, 7 x 11 inches. 10 David Bennett, New Receptor 2010, ink on watercolor paper, 7 x 11 inches. 11 David Bennett, Resetting 1 (To Mondrian) 2010, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. 1 2 David Bennett, Resetting 2 2010, acrylic on canvas, 21 x 24 inches. 1 3 David Bennett, Resetting 3 2010, acrylic on canvas, 29 x 29 inches. 1 4 David Bennett, Resetting 4 2010, acrylic on canvas, 29 x 29 inches. 15 Damien Hirst, Hymn, 2000, painted bronze, 240 x 108 x 48 inches, edition of 3. 16 Lari Pittman, Untitled #3 2007, acrylic, cel. vinyl, spray lacquer over gessoed canvas over wood panel, 102 x 86 inches. 17 Max Ernst. The Word (La Parole), 1921, collage and gouache on paper, 8 x 4 inches. 18 Max Ernst, Stratified Rocks, Nature's Gift of Gneiss Icelandic Moss 1920, gouache and pencil on printe d paper on cardstock, 8 x 10 inches. 19 Max Ernst, The Wavering Woman, 1923, oil on canvas, 52 x 39 inches. 20 Max Ernst, The Anatomy (The School prepared Anatomy), 1921, collage.
iii 21 Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 1992, photograph. 22 Cindy Sherman, Untitled #250 1992, photograph. 23 Raoul Hausmann, Der Geist Unserer Zeit Mechanischer Kopf (Mechanical Head [The Spirit of Our Age]), 1920, mixed media. 24 Raoul Hausmann, Tatlin at Home 1920, collage and gouache on paper.
iv FERO CORPUM FERRI David Bennett New College of Florida, 2010 ABSTRACT This essay, Fero Corpum Ferri is meant to a ccompany a thesis exhibition, comprised of paintings and drawings. The paintings are executed on a medium scale, composed of brightly colored anatomical, mechanical, and invented shapes. They intimate a Pop art or graffiti sensibility that remains coolly d etached while approaching varying levels of anatomical and schematic depictions from organs and machinery to cellular abstraction and invented mechanisms. The project continues the investigation of the tensions between humanity and the growing industrial landscape begun by the Dadaists in the early 20 th century. The paintings and drawings in this series invoke metaphors for larger issues of integration of man into his mechanical, and now digital, society. Unexpected juxtapositions encourage reflection on the body and machine, abstracting their original functions. The invented compositions strive to further the dialogue begun by the Dadaists, positing an integration of forms that is neither wholly organic nor man made.
v ARTIST STATEMENT "Dada is for nature and against art. Jean Arp My current body of work seeks to cast the role of human physiology against a backdrop of ever increasing mechanical supplantation. By conflating anatomical, diagrammatic and mechanical elements, the paintings and drawings move into a liminal state, one that is neither wholly organic n or mechanistic. Drawing influence from surrealism, Dada, and other collage based movements, I utilize techniques of appropriation and de familiarization shared by artists like Ernst, di Chirico, Kiki Smith, Cindy S herman, and Damien Hirst. As expressed in the Jean Arp quote above, the series strives to make the view er aware of the primordial. In abstracting the body on a compositional or anatomical level, the invasion of mechanical elements is made that much more jarring. Like the early Dada works which used much of the same collage elements, the series avoids any kind of overt message in favor of ambiguity, a pursuit of this meditative stance that inv ites the viewer to draw conclusions rather than making a formal statement. The result is a series of work that questions norms of thinking about the body its structures, its roles, and its perception in society.
1 BETWEEN ANATOMY AND AUTOMATA We have all known a person who, when faced with the sight of blood or undone flesh, panics or begins to feel a twinge of nausea. Visions of perfection are displayed to us every day through the glamorizing lens of media sheen, and we come to envision them a s self contained, pristine, and indestructible. So when a traumatic event disrupts this image, it is all the more disconcerting. We are naive and narcissistic about our own physicality, as is evident in the Western cult of appearance: perfect skin, hair, t eeth, musculature, and prime health are all valued symbols of our integration with an image driven standard It is no coincidence that an overwhelming majority of Western portrayals of media icons fit this standard of perfection. An example from film, Arno ld Schwarzenegger's lead character in the Terminator series a mechanical android is portrayed to us as a model of the Western ideal chiseled and handsome. Similarly, film noir shares this fascination with glamour and aesthetic beauty, even as it often presents anti heroes or ch aracters of moral ambiguity. It i s an ideal that minimizes the sheer visceral qualities of our bodies (within the same media than glamorizes and desensitizes us to violence) presenting them not as living, bleeding organisms, but as polished, flawless statues. It is this tension of structure -the mechanistic functioning of the ideal body akin to a well oiled, exacting machine versus chaos the often painful, unpredictable, and volatile natural origins that one is composed of that I am interested in exploring with my body of work. Several art historical movements, such as the Dadaists in particular, have placed this tension of modern man's integration with the mechanical at the forefron t of their practice. Artists like Max Ernst did much to further
2 this dialogue, utilizing collage techniques to turn the imagery of widespread media into a subversive device meant to stir up the sense of everyday'. "I want to be a machine", claimed Andy Warhol, yet his reproductions of consumer dross, societal glamour, and ubiquitous symbolic motifs have always had a distinct melancholy to my eye. Even when willed towards the infinite proliferation of industrial society, Warhol's factory style' replicas could never out produce their mass assembled counterparts. A feeling of uselessness and obsolescence pervades each labor intensive y et still imperfect object. The works in my exhibition acknowledge their purposeless state: they are diagrammatically flatten ed yet without the transparency of delineation, performing ambiguous or arbitrary roles, and impossible to understand or harness within a conventional ordering of reality. They are parodies of the efficient systems they imitate, symbols of the disconnectio n between the tangible and utopian and the failures of bridging the gap between the ideal, useful' form and the degradable or impermanent nature of our bodies. This tension of pragmatism versus indiscipline structure versus chaos recurs throughout the history of industrialization, and more recently, digitalization. Man made technologies built on empirical' science falter regularly: bridges with extremely precisely calculated weight loads have collapsed, vehicles like cars and planes with highly cal ibrated instruments can malfunction, medicinal science and supplements can sometimes exacerbate a problem rather than solve it. Even more overt is the rise of new strains of repetitive motion injuries, resulting from repeated exposure to factory conditions and attempts at mechanical symbiosis. Carpal tunnel syndrome, for instance, has traveled from the factory floor where workers would begin to wear the parts of their
3 bodies associated with various a ssembly tasks to the office and home where leagues o f people now spend innumerable hours typing and manipulating computers. Similarly, disorders result from staring too long at computer screens, an illusion of depth that only exhausts and devolves the eye. The screen, a device that strives for a pure inter facing of physical and digital, actually weakens the visual organs that interact with it. In this instance, we have a tool designed for efficiency that enfeebles us in the long run. Other innovations may be outright dangerous in a recent article in GQ, e ntitled "Warning, Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health", Christopher Ketcham reports: Though the scientific debate is heated and far from resolved, there are multiple reports, mostly out of Europe's premier research institutions, of cell phone and PDA use being linked to "brain aging, brain damage, early onset Alz heimer's, senility, DNA damage, and even sperm die offs (many men, after all, keep their cell phones in their pants pockets or attached at the hip). In September 2007, the European Uni on's environmental watchdog, the European Environment Agency, warned that cell phone technology "could lead to a health crisis similar to those caused by asbestos, smoking, and lead in petrol." (1) This is a sobering examination of an object that is now considered integral to operating efficiently in modern society. Topically, this tension of reliance versus hazard is integral to the works. Insofar as man is dependent on the use of certain technologies,
4 one becomes unable to fathom a future without their use, even in the face of serious repercussions. In Ketcham's words, "it's hard to talk about the dangers of cell phone radiation without sounding like a conspiracy theorist" (1). The construction of the image of safety has been established through great ef forts on behalf of the manufacturers of the technology and the companies reliant on its continued use and we flock readily to support this stance if it allows us our precious mechanical supplement. Like Warhol, we strive to be machines even if it kills us. Through a series of paintings entitled Vitality (figs. 1 6) these issues begin to be addressed. The paintings depict hybrid anatomical studies intact yet manipulated. Organs depicted t hrough larger than life examination each painting is around 3 by 4 feet several levels of pseudo biological representations are shown from recognizable elements such as the ribcage or brain to cellular forms. However, a liberty is taken in my depictions of biology anatomy is extended, distended, simplified, an d left out. This modification of anatomy creates a strange defamiliarizing aspect in the work In order to heighten an unnatur al sensibility, the series also i ncorporates depictions of machine parts, diagrammatic drawings, objects, and mechanisms that are invented, aberrant, and strange. In this way, the paintings are allegories to the larger ambiguity of man 's role and integration in his industrial framework Parts are cobbled together from engine diagrams and juxtaposed against the anatomical forms. Both the anatomical and mechanical references become disabled via the visual vocabulary of the paintings. As such, they interact, by turns, in cohesive or clashing ways threatening to overtake, subvert, or replace the other. This results in an interrogative dialogue emerging from the works the compounded biological mechanical figures toy with the aforementioned media driven
5 ideal form', a faceless merging of machine like efficiency and human familiarity. That these new creations are not our ideal of pretty' striking and unsettling perhaps speaks to the roughness of man and his industrial integration. The m edia tells us that assimilation is desirable, yet does mu ch to cover up the problematic relationship man has to modernity mainly, that his desires are unequivocally at mercy to a larger trajectory of supplantation, suppression, and indoctrination enforced by the emergence of industrial systems. In my paintings, t he colors and surface treatments are organismic, familiar yet subverted to the point of alienation traditional color roles have been swapped, and steel rendered organs now coexist with textured, visceral looking mechanisms This creates a con flation of organic and industrial that is unsettling upon first glance Organs depicted through unnatural coloration blues, grays, and greens normally associated with the mechanical, or non living contribute to the sense of dissociation insofar as the y are recognizable in form yet impossible to relate to via our own bodies as a result of their technological surface treatment The bodies if one connects the anatomical references in the series back to the notion of the cohesive body are performing a perfunctory role, as though we were gazing into the workings of a machine. They are free of blood or other overt viscera and seem to be operating in an airless, clinical fashion. In alignment with this non physical nature, the organs are depicted with a co ntained, glassy treatment that subverts their true surfaces. The absence of pocks, tissue, blood and other such bodily aberrations suggests a 'controlled' body. This issue of the closed' or pristine, smooth, and separable and open' the vastly elabo rate and interconnected organism will be addressed further in relation to Max Ernst's Dadaist collages and subverted diagrams that
6 invoke the body. The series invokes the open' body, placing this decidedly messy view of humanity in strong tension with the modern industrial landscape that which strives to eliminate waste and aberration in favor of efficiency and congruency within its systems. A painting entitled Absorption (fig. 1) depicts a series of invented ducts and pipelines that seem to flail ou t at odd angles, controlled and yet disheveled, meticulous in construction yet accomplishing seemingly nothing. The openings of the ducts seem to draw in the disembodied organs from the profile of an anonymous, blank figure, situated in the opposite side o f the composition. The nervous system extends to the organs, delineated by the veins, which recouple at the stem of the figure's brain. The organs seem to float, distended and jewel like in their rendered, metallic sheen. On the contrary, the ducts and pas sageways of the machine seem strikingly muscular or visceral by comparison. Rendered as fleshy and scabrous, the invented mechanisms take on an ageless quality neither living nor non living, they seem to straddle a line between the perishable composition of organisms and the durability of steel. As they begin to interact with and change associations, the metallic organs of the displayed body assume a similar liminal state. This is surprising to our humanist sensibility part of us u ndoubtedly wants to sh out, "but I am no machine!" The series seek s to present the estrangement of man from his natural state via his reliance on the mechanical. It is not a simple question of 'good' naturalism versus 'bad' technology, but a multi tiered debate that explores t he way technology (mostly unfamiliar to the everyday viewer, hidden beneath the hoods of cars, the walls of homes, and behind computer casing) aid, command, sate, and influence us. It is parallel to the complacency felt in both figure and machine in the se ries: the neutral method of presenting these
7 disparate symbols does not offer conclusions as to who or what has agency in the world of these paintings. In Absorption the profile of the figure has an ambiguously rendered eye, neither open nor closed. Is he addressing the changes taking place with regards to his anatomy, can he even recognize them can we ? Another painting removes the issue of agency entirely. On one side of Transference (fig. 2), the organs of the torso are delineated the lungs, heart, diaphragm etc. These are not typical however. Rendered in a staunch metallic gray green, these organs seem pieced together like a machine mechanism. An alienation of the forms of organs occurs similar to Damien Hirst's monumental scale recreation of a medical anatomical model Hymn (fig. 15 ). In Transference the digestive organs are replaced by a variety of machine parts interconnect in the cavity of the abdomen. Rendered in visceral red, the machine mechanisms extend beyond the cavity and out into the figure's surroundings, creating an elaborate, interconnecting pa ttern of mechanical shapes. This sterile, unrealistic treatment further references the medical or mechanical diagram. It is in this neutralized space that disruption, transmogrification, and invasion of unlike elements occurs and seemingly none of the laws of nature apply within. W hat would be otherwise r ecognizably 'natural' forms appear aberrant or alien. A striking, grim image, but beyond the jarring juxtaposition at the surface lies a la rger metaphor of mechanical supplantation. The machinery of the abdomen extends beyond its cavity, connecting to the disembodied m echanisms that threaten to swallow up the torso, confronting the viewer with a piercing vision of technology that is imposing upon the natural rather than remaining contained. It is both a reminder of one's own mortality, and an analogy for the larger i ntegratio n of technology into the everyday.
8 For much of the Vitality works, both the natural and mechanical figures are set on an undulating background of screen printed machine like or medical illustrations and diagrams, the parts dissected and enumerated with precision. Conflating several public domain diagrams into a si ngular, dizzying pattern, the pieces of enumeration, labeling, and diagrammatic marks are left intact to further this reference to the outside sphere. The pattern repeats, folds in upon itself, and is both effaced and re invoked with new marks to create a living tissue of diagrammatic elements. The rendered objects are delineated with numbers and letters in a mock up of the formal diagram, creating an ambiguous unity that only serves to further confound form and function, as there is seemingly no recognizab le logic behind the symbols. They are empty signifiers once used to impart cohesion and enable the description of complex forms for the technician, now invoked to conflate this appearance of an exact rationale rather than reinforce it. On the topic of t echnical drawing, medical illustrations play a key role in the aesthetics of the Architect (figs. 7 10) series of drawings. On sheets of watercolor paper with light washes of color, the drawings are enacted with a precise system of coloration one that attempts to cross between symbolic and representational color. This runs parallel to the delineated forms of medical diagrams, often conveyed with non representational color in order to visually organize information. The forms seem somewhere between the co nventional representation of organs and the hyper magnified representations of cellular biology, along with elements of mechanical diagrams and blueprints. Rather than traditional approaches to depth and form, color and line play against each other almos t exclusively to create space and differentiate objects. The marks are controlled to such a degree that they form a sort of predetermined tapestry, a uniformity
9 that both presents and distances the artist's hand. Evident from the beginning in the Architect drawings, and increasingly over the development of the Vitality paintings, I've tended towards a compositional trend t h at invokes an idea of boundless sprawl. Utilizing an all over clustering of objects, a balance of solid color and line, a flattening of the picture plane and simultaneous expansion beyond its two dimensional boundaries, and other 'purely aesthetic' or formal concerns, the multifold interactions between objects be come downplayed in favor of a 'tapestry' or 'wallpaper' effect. There is a mis leading passivity to these connections (after all, what is displayed is unnatural and should be disturbing), which speaks to the way that a populace can be entirely complacent in the face of such changes, overlooking (or never even noticing) the subversion of the natural. My mark is an assimilation of many sources, and more contemporary than the conceptual framework provided by Dada and Surrealism. A number of illustrative or graphic artists such as R. Crumb, Raymond Pettibon, Barry McGee, and Lari Pittman can be traced as influences in my amalgamation of graffiti, comic, and illustrative line work and coloration. The Architect series draws its curvilinear repetitions of line from Crumb's anxious cross hatching and over treatment of forms. The pulp comic st yle of rendering prominent in the Vitality paintings draws equal influence from popular graphic novels and the immensely popular DC and Marvel Comics mode of dynamic illustration. Superhero comics and pulp illustration are key influences in the work of Pet tibon, who I look to for influence in the balance of solid color and line and the simplified delineation of forms. A graffiti heritage is present in the line and color work in my series, drawing from sources like McGee's wall paintings and Pittman's canva ses, which utilize all over
10 composition and a stylized method of representation. Jim Mooney, in his essay "Queer Pickings: The Art of Lari Pittman", describes Pittman's decidedly caffeinated compositional sense: All collide in a vain attempt to keep the subject 'buzzing'; we are rushed headlong into a postmodern spectacle of Neo Baroque excess. In Pittman's work, this flow of time is frozen, creating mesmerizing tableaux, where linear time is folded in and back upon itself, split and splintere d, spun out in tangled skein, spread across and interweaving competing pockets of private and public space (83) Pittman's Untitled #3 (fig. 16), in particular, juggles graffiti like spray marks with the delicate delineation of forms in line with illustration. It features the lower segment of a figure, diagrammatic line elements, and cobble d together machine like forms. I approach Pittman's pop culture ransacking of subjects and marks in a similar vein, albeit with more of an element on viscera and bodily references and less scenic or atmospheric details. The objects in a piece such as Accumulator (fig. 4) make overt reference to both these graffiti like and pulp sensibilities. A utomatic references saw rise within the S urrealist movement, suppressing the intent of the artist from the produced images by forcing his hand to move automatically and without pause for contemplation. In enacting the Architect series (and I say 'enact' here purposefully, as distinctly separate from the more authori al connotations of 'create'), the predetermination of the marks I use a nd the color relationships have composed the
11 blueprint to the works Though much of the series utilizes a panoramic sense of composition aligned with the landscape tradition, the system s of line work and coloration enforced within it negate the idea that the artist is always making free choices. The objects, forms, and composition are chosen, which is to say they arrive organically, but the system of their execution imposes regularity an d restraint upon the artist's hand. This is parallel to the idea of 'technical drawing' addressed earlier, as means of clarification rather than expression the artist's skill may be drawn upon to delineate forms, but always in employment of technical kno wledge rather than sheer aestheticism. To a degree, the mode of executing each series has some roots in the willfully random assemblage of ima ges and techniques used by the S urrealists. The systematic integration of unlike elements operate s in a similar vein as the source materials that appear and recur in the work of Max Ernst and like minded c ontemporaries. Pepe Karmel, in his essay "Terrors of the Encyclopedia: Max Ernst and Contemporary Art", elaborates on the techniques Ernst employed t o create his collage novels: Ernst began to rely heavily on nineteenth century illustrated novels [...] these attracted Ernst on account of their melodramatic subject manner and also because they were illustrated with wood engravings executed in a uniform ma nner; this uniform technique allowed Ernst to maintain a consistent style in his finished c ollages even when he combined images from different sources. (89)
12 A COLLAGED PERSPECTIVE We naturally structure and order our perceptions it is conducive to the operations of our minds, which favor the logical and yet this ordering often blinds us to the underlying root of our perceptions, which are our myriad modes of sensory. The Dada mo vement, whose primary artists were strong influences for the imagery and concepts in Fero Corpum Ferri often fought against this collapsing of signification that which we perceive and signified the 'real', before it is colored or changed by our perc eption. Dada sought to complicate our ingrained modes of percep tion in various ways, from the body as machine as landscape in the works of Giorgio di Chirico and Ernst, to the subversive mock advertising and propaganda projects of Berlin Dadaists such as W alter Mehring and George Grosz. In his essay "Dada Mime", Hal Foster notes "pandemonium (literally: 'abode of all demons; place of lawless violence or uproar; utter confusion') is one aim of the Dadaists" (166). The reliance on invented shapes, a submissio n to subconscious or unconscious rendering, and the airless spaces of the series enforces this idea of chaos. In the above quote, Foster is speaking of Hugo Ball's performance of wordless 'sound poems' at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zrich in 1916. While recit ing his poems on stage, Ball blacked out. Shortly thereafter, he withdrew from Dada the experience had been too much for him. Foster calls Ball's ordeal "the bliss of the epileptic", or a sudden seizure of the cognitive senses when faced with a trauma or event that releases the mind from the grip of reality. He predicts that suppression of an agitated proletariat class will incite Dadaists to mime this condition "intermittently, variously, compulsively for decades to come" (168). Ball's malfunctioning' on the stage is
13 parallel to the larger issues of the conformity and suppression of individuality in industrial society. Ernst, working with the Dada movement in his surrealist collages, creates tension between signifiers of elements such as the diagramma tic, anatomical, and figurative, similar to the symbolic terrain explored in the Vitality and Architect series. His 1921 collage The Word (la parole) (fig. 17 ) features full body anatomical diagrams seamed together, seemingly displaying the front and back musculature of the body simultaneously. In the foreground, a figural drawing hints back to antiquity with its lopped off head and limbs and marble white complexion. It is subverted, however, by anatomical objects such as cutaways and diagrams of bodily tis sues, and inter spliced with a collage of printed birds. The figures are placed in an indistinct background of shallow relief and general ambiguity. In the way his symbolic language echoes concerns about modernity, Ernst evokes deeply visceral responses wi th outwardly subtle inferences. Certainly the most striking feature of Ernst's collages is that they subvert forms via the use of diagrammatic source elements. One of these elements is the anatomy of man or beast, a visceral signifier of the primacy of th e physical world. Karmel denotes: The image of the body's interior represents a return to what Mikhail Bakhtin calls the grotesque body' of medieval culture. The medical theories of Antiquity and the Middle Ages saw the body as a microcosm of the universe,  bene ath this relatively abstruse symbolism lay a popular understanding of the body as a theater of b irth, copulation, and death, of ingestion, digestion,
14 and excretion. (89) Bakhtin goes on to note that all of these acts of bodily drama are "performed on the confines of the body and the outer world" (89). As such, the earliest perceptions of the body were driven by these spillages, the recognition of one's own physicality as at once 'self' and 'ext ernal'. This is the 'open' body that so fascinated Ernst, a body whose operations are seen as antithetical to precise delineation or definition. This is concurrent with a view of the relationship between organism and environment as continual universal, or all inclusive implied by Karmel's description of the 'grotesque body' as a 'microcosm'. Within this stance, the dramas and traumas of the physique are in alignment with the spectacles of the universe. For instance, primitive medicine att ributed physical ills to external sources, like godly retribution for a lack of religious piety, or a disproportion of the four bodily 'humors', fluids said to correspond to different elements of the body as microcosm. As the sciences developed and the wo rkings of the body could be more readily segmented and studied, a new image of the body arose to coincide with this newly acquired awareness. Bakhtin, quoted in Karmel, takes note of the change from the 'open' to 'closed' body: In the Renaissance the gr otesque body was challenged and supplanted by the model of an idealized body corresponding to a radically new understandi ng of the relationship between self and world: The new bodily canon presents an entirely f inished, completed, strictly lim ited body, which is shown from
15 the outside.' It is closed smooth, and impenetrable.' (89) This new image of the body separate, impermeable gave rise to a new canon of behavior. The Renaissance ideal spoke of an approach to actions, manners, and the self that would "close up and limit the body's con fines and  smooth the bulges Karmel quotes (89). This supports the exemplary model of the Renaissance, the body as a 'closed individual'. This is the image of the body that has dominated Western cu lture: the classical form which is harmoniously balanced, tastefully portrayed, uplifting, and close to perfection, rather than visceral and susceptible to all forms of bodily tribulation. The closed body is an ideal from antiquity that survives to this day in our media driven cult of appearance, and one that Ernst did everything he could within his oeuvre to disassemble (a task that is always being furthered by contemporary artists, the wor k of which is born as the progeny of Ernst's, and the surrealist and Dada movements as a whole). In Ernst's Stratified Rocks, Nature's Gift of Gneiss Icelandic Moss (fig. 18) a medical illustration of a horse's anatomy is modified with gouache and pencil until nearly unrecognizable without viewing the source etching, the organs he leaves intact appear as disconnected anomalies in the invented landscape. These out of place organs cannot possibly reflect a continuous, smooth, and closed body rather, they suggest an anatomy in disarray, a conflation of the structure of the body and the structures in a landscape (quite akin to Bakhtin's description of the body as continuous, a microcosm of the natural world). Examples of this kind of subversive strategy ab ound in Ernst's collage and paintings circa the 1920s. In The Wavering Woman (fig. 19 ) we see a female figure being
16 precariously harnessed by a sinister looking amalgamation of pipelines and spouts. The industrial quality of the objects extends t o the figu re herself, who is devoid of any real personality and has the segmented limbs and colorless complexion of a mannequin. Her stance narrows down to one foot, with a pointed toe that suggests restraint, and the machine also has two foo t like structures that f urther blend the image of human and mechanism. The woman's hair extends straight up, her mouth agape in a dismal expression of confusion, terror, and isolation at the hands of her industrial controller. The body here is supplanted by the machine, and is di splayed as useless and impotent in combating it. Wavering Woman displays Ernst clearly contemplating the role of mechanization in society, and does so in a figurative way. Lucy Lippard, in her essay "Max Ernst: Passed and Pressing Tensions" delineates this view of the impotency of man in his systematized, industrial landscape by delving into a fairly untranslatable inscription in Ernst's The Hat Makes the Man which reads, Seed covered, stacked up man, seedless waterformer, well fitting ne rvous system also tightly fitted nerves (the hat makes the man, style is the tailor)" (705). Quite a literary curiosity, even without the multiple in Lippard's phrasing, "interlingual word plays" offered by the original German text. From this inscription Lippard draws two references: Dada's view of European man in 1920 as a "sta cked up", "seedless" puppet or "mannequin", repressed, oppressed, and manipulated by bourg eois capitalism, imprisoned in "tight fitting nerve" clothes, slave to style, and much in need of uncovering, is one reference; another (the seeds, the plant, the water, the growth factor inhere nt in such towering, piling up forms) is
17 Ernst's long standing identity with the forces of nature. (706) The idea of modern man a s "repressed, oppressed, and manipulated" certainly plays into the reading of Wavering Woman which presents its subject much like a moldable mannequin a dummy in the hands of powerful societal and industrial forces. Another Ernst piece has received sign ificant attention from a contemporary standpoint looking to examine society at the level of the body. Ernst's The Anatomy (The School prepared Anatomy) (fig. 20 ), a collage of spliced photos depicts a dismembered, anatomized body h anging out of a chamber, revealing a bizarre 'ribcage' and some piping structures. Re appropriating Ernst's dummy like figure, Cindy Sherman's 1992 photograph Untitled (fig. 21 ) evokes the same posture, detached and frozen, and the segmented nature of Ernst's deconstructed body. Sherman's photo updates the collage for a cultural critique of gender roles displaying anatomy on a sheet of red velvet and compositing breasts for her male dummy, which is also propping itself up towards the viewer suggestively. Hal Foster, in his essay "Obscene, Abject, Traumatic", describes Sherman's particular brand of shock: "Here, as often in horror movies and bedtime stories alike, horror means, first and foremost, horror of maternity, of the maternal body made strange, even repulsive, in repression (112). The sexual undercurrents of this theme are no stranger to the works of Ernst, and are arrived at via the compositing of images. Defamiliariz ation further enforces the idea of subconscious governance, and thus the unknowable body. Sherman's phot ograph Untitled #250 (fig. 22 ) presents a legless, disconnected dummy as subject, again in a suggestive arms behind head pose. The genitalia are hair
18 lined, expelling what appears as fecund material in an invocation of the abject which will be addressed later. The dummy again has overt breasts with rosy nipples and a very distended stomach, evoking the bodily effects of childbirth. Engaging with the subject, we notice the dum my has not the feminine face we would expect of the female body, but that of a ve ry old, somewhat androgynous figure. The dissociation felt when examining the disconnected body of the figure becomes horrific when we combine this disheveled yet still 'young' looking body with the face of o ld age. In alignment with this, coils of human h air, a transition from a material with luxurious connotations to one that invokes dirt and viscera, have replaced the previous backdrop of red velvet Not only is our sense of proper anatomy subverted, but also our ideas of beauty and health. The works of Ernst and Sherman share an absurdist view with regards to the norms of anatomical discourse, especially of the female (Ernst frequently collaged female nudes into scenes from nineteenth century illustrated novels, and named a collage novel La femme 100 ttes, or The Hundred headed Woman ). The feminine nude has one of the strongest historical traditions in art, seen as an empirically beautiful or ideal form for centuries. It is a tradition that Ernst often employed to convey a degree of absurdis m, emotional release, or aestheticism in decline. Sherman draws upon the trappings of the nude to subvert it entirely, raising questions with regard to aesthetic ideals and gender roles. A resultant unease sets in when we realize we are looking at a dishev eled or rearranged body. This, Foster posits, is the result of the infiltration of the gaze, Sherman's "impulse to erode the subject and to tear at the screen" (113). It is this defamiliarizing aspect that overcomes the observer when faced with the (one co uld say their own ) subverted body and which I am employing in displaying the disassemble d displaced,
19 and invaded anatomies of Vitality and Architect Raoul Hausmann was a nother prominent figure in the Dada movement. He combined diagrammatic and mechanic ally influenced sources together with figural representation. Important Hausmann works all seem to prominently feature a body in turmoil, besieged by the influence and outright physical d ominance of modern industrial life. His most famous piece, Der Geist Unserer Zeit Mechanischer Kopf (Mechanical Head [The Spirit of Our Age]) (fig. 23 ) employs a hairdresser's wig making dummy as its anatomical base and affixes to it several objects: a wallet, a ruler, and parts of a pocket watch, typewriter, and camera. The resultant symbolic motif is not too far off from the Bluetooth headsets and other electronic fixtures of today In this way, Hausmann was predicting the aesthetic direction of modern human electronic interface, decades in advance. Jonathon Jones analy z es the prototype Hausmann stumbled upon: Hausmann's sculpture might be seen as an aggressively Marxist reversal of Hegel: this is a head whose "thoughts" are materially determined by objects literally fixed to it. However, there are deeper targets in western culture that give this modern masterpiece its force. Hausmann turns inside out the notion of the head as seat of rea son, an assumption that lies behind the European fascination with the portrait. He reveals a hea d that is penetrated and governed by brute external forces. (17) This invasion of "external forces", namely the stringent ideologies and governances of society at large, suppress Hausmann's dummy in much the same way that
20 industrialization props up a nd puppeteers the female subject of Ernst's The Wavering Woman Hausmann toys more with the concept of individuality at the ideological level, however, by presenting objects fixed to the head resulting in the reading, as Jones writes, that one's "'though ts' are materially determined". This brings back the media driven frenzy of consumerism that seems to direct so much of modern society, a schism between self and purported desire that speaks to the difficulty of individuation in a society rife with informa ti on and not so subtle directives delivered ever closer by technology (by steps, the living room television, the personal computer, and now the omnipresent personal phone and web interface devices). Sculpture was not the only means by which Hausmann add ressed our supplantation and suppression by the technological In Elasticum several collages of bodies are split and rejoined in a mutant like fashion, surrounded by fractured text which relates the incompatibility of signifiers with the tangible world of sensory this is reflected in the visceral way Hausmann disassembles his source materials. Tatlin at Home (fig. 24 ) is another of Hausmann's collages that explores similar terrain to his fragmented, mechanically integrated head. In it, several men in sui ts are collaged together with machine pieces what appears to be a microscope or drill like mechanism protrudes from the central figure's head in a recurrence of motifs from his Spirit of Our Age Also on display is an opened frontal anatomy, a common med ical illustrative theme which I draw upon in my own painting Transference In Hausmann's collage, it is affixed to the top of a lamp stem becoming a piece of grim furniture. Similarly menacing undulating mechanical shapes leer in place of the backgrounded right wall, which is removed. Hausmann has the ability to unsettle expectations via his inventive re appropriations of
21 form and his disregard for the ty pical laws that govern reality. INNER AND OUTER WORLDS The conflation of subject and object, which blurs who or what can own the gaze, is thoroughly exposed in the work of Cindy Sherman, especially in the more visceral anatomical assemblages the aforementioned Untitled is a prime example. By displacing and displaying the sex organs, Sherman's assemble d body calls into question our understanding of our own bodies as a 'closed', separate organism, coinciding with that of the Renaissance ideal. On Sherman's penchant for the grotesque, Foster notes in "Obscene, Abject, Traumatic" "su ch images tend toward a representation of the body turned inside out, of the subject literally abjected, thrown out. But this is also the condition of the outside turned in, of the invasion of the subject as picture by the object gaze" (112). Similar ends are achieved in Kiki Smith's myriad sculptural works composed with paper. Lilting and frail, these bodies seek to invoke the 'rea l' as posited by Foster by means of their subtle nuances such as the way paper 'skin' seems to respirate in a breeze. As Susan Stoops writes of th e exhibition she curated entitled Kiki Smith: Unfolding the Body Smith's sculptures can be "simultaneously unsettling and wondrous, causing one to feel the volatility and vulnerability of one's own body threatening to expel its hidden secrets into public view" (28). With regard to the abject, Smith's work often references materials expelled from the body: tears, milk, menstruation, blood, and more. Stoops elaborates, "these 'uncontainable', disobedient bodies are at first a brutal reminder
22 of our lack of s elf control, but they also reaffirm the perpetual process of change our bodies undergo" (28). Internally, it can seem as though our bodies remain fixed throughout our lives, so gradual is their transfiguration and so fleeting our self perception. Our conne ction to the reality of our bodies is dependent upon this notion of stability, and it is this fixed self that Smith's sculptures disrupt. In presenting her "uncontainable" bodies, Smith challenges the aforementioned Renaissance notion of the 'closed' self, giving rise to a perception of the body not as discontinuous with its surroundings but constantly in transformation, referencing our continual intake and excretion of the world. This emphasis on our c onstantly changing nature draws Stoops to infer that "S mith celebrates an experience of the body as temporary" (28). My series, too, seek s to present this 'temporary' body in alignment with Bakhtin's notio n of the continuous, constantly changing, 'open' body. The series depicts fluid organicism, composited of the imagery of the natural world the organisms are amalgamations of nature, arising out of its larger evolutionary and genetic trends, and their genesis is the result of this. This interconnected nature exposes the link between the body and its surrou ndings, and makes the fragility or fl uctuating nature of the life form tactile. This fragility, one's own temporality, is often the subject under duress throughout the tradition of Dada, and indeed many works which deal with perception an d transformation o f the body. This extends f rom the post war experi ments of Ernst and Hausmann the body under siege and transformation by outside, industrial forces -into the subjects of bodily anxiety portrayed by Smith and Sherman bodies that actively challenge noti ons of praxis and societal perception in favor of this temporal or constantly fluctuating state.
23 As examined in Foster 's essay "Dada Mime", the outward expansion of discourse may result in an arresting of meaning, a miming of the "bliss of the epileptic" which rejects all conventional thought in favor of a seizure of the senses. Foster ties this rejection of praxis to the desire of a troubled proletariat class to express value s beyond the bourgeoisie limitations of 'culture' in other words, to short circuit the assumptions that underpin ideology. Jean Arp expressed this desire succinctly when he stated, "Dada is for nature and against art" nature being the primordial origin s of consciousness, and 'art' being the meanings and associations fostered by society as significant or self evident. The struggle of representation versus innovation enacts itself, re curring over the surface of the series. T he will toward representation expressions of depth, surface, and oth er purely aesthetic pleasures is at all times acted upon, flattened, and decentralized by the diagrammatic treatment of objects. In executing the works, a knowingly false illusion of space is hinted at, toyed with I see this as a parallel exploration to the question of the 'authorless' text or symbolic motif of the series an exploration into the authority of representational form. This reconstruction of meaning in my series a building of new representation, seeks to expose the aberrant foundation s of what we consider universal or objective. By questioning the systems that we most readily rely on as self evident, the series recalls concerns of structure versus chaos. The ordering of reality the surviving notions of beauty as impermeable, signification as certain, and reason as infallible begins to collapse under the interrogation of modes of representation. Our objective' pursuits, such as the sciences and medicines, can be unraveled into constructions of meaning composed merely of slippery, self referential signifiers. Therefore, the series is less a
24 pursuit of some futuristic ideal form than it is a pathway into what informs our conceptions of desirability of what is beneficial, efficie nt, or productive. Fero Corpum Ferri furthers our understanding by making us question what our drive towards mimesis leaves out. Structure, the foundation of representation, is at all times at the whim of chaos chance, ambiguity, subversion, and defamil iarization. As the multiplicity of nature belies any singular interpretation, the series strives to make the viewer aware of the constructed nature of his own reality and the confines of the rational mind. The body is the subjective terrain that cannot be forced into the narrow definitions ascribed to it try as we might, the natural cannot be delineated like a machine The industrial, societal, and intellectual methods of repression seek to deny the primordial uncertainty of the real. Exposing this unpredictability in the edifice of objective reason is the goal of my series and, I believe, of any humanist art.
25 WORKS CITED Foster, Hal. "Dada Mime." October 105 (2003): 166 176. Web 3/15/10. Foster, Hal. "Obscene, Abject, Traumatic." October 78 (1996): 106 124. Web 2/16/10. Jones, Jonathon. "The Spirit of Our Time Mechanical Head, Raoul Hausmann (1919)." The Guardian 177 (2003): 17. Print. Karmel, Pepe. "Terrors of the Encyclopedia: Max Ernst and Contemporary Art." Max Ernst: A Retrospective. Eds. Werner Spies and Sabine Rewald. New Yo rk: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005: 81 106. Print. Ketcham, Christopher. "Warning, Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health." GQ (2010): 1 5. Web 4/22/10. Lippard, Lucy L. "Max Ernst: Passed and Pressing Tensions." The Hudson Review Vol. 23, No. 4 (Winter, 1970 1971): 701 709. Web 5/ 15/10. Mooney, Jim. "Queer Pickings: The Art of Lari Pittman." Third Text 12 (1998): 79 86. Web 5/15/10. Stoops, Susan L. Kiki Smith: Unfolding the Body Massachusetts: Brandeis University, 1992. Print.
26 Vitality Series 1 David Bennett, Absorption 2010, acrylic on panel, 34 x 48 inches. 2 David Bennett, Transference 2010, acrylic on panel, 34 x 48 inches
27 3 David Bennett, Parallax 2010, acrylic on panel, 34 x 48 inches 4 David Bennett, Accumulator 2010, acrylic on panel, 34 x 48 inches
28 5 David Bennett, Helix 2010, acrylic on panel, 34 x 48 inches
29 6 David Bennett, To Yr Halls From the Nursery 2010, acrylic on panel, 34 x 48 inches Architect Series 7 David Bennett, Innerchamber, 2010, ink on watercolor paper, 7 x 11 inches
30 8 David Bennett, Expansion, 2010, ink on watercolor paper, 11 x 14 inches 9 David Bennett, Positioning, 2010, ink on watercolor paper, 7 x 11 inches
31 10 David Bennett, New Receptor, 2010, ink on watercolor paper, 11 x 14 inches Resetting Series 11 David Bennett, Resetting 1 (To Mondrian) 2010, acrylic on panel, 24 x 24 inches
32 12 David Bennett, Resetting 2 2010, acrylic on panel, 21 x 24 inches 13 David Bennett, Resetting 3 2010, acrylic on panel, 29 x 29 inches
33 14 David Bennett, Resetting 4 2010, acrylic on panel, 29 x 29 inches Images Cited 15 Damien Hirst, Hymn, 2000, painted bronze, 240 x 108 x 48 inches, edition of 3
34 16 Lari Pittman, Untitled #3 2007, acrylic, cel. vinyl, spray lacquer over gessoed canvas over wood panel, 102 x 86 inches. 17 Max Ernst. The Word (La Parole), 1921, collage and gouache on paper, 8 x 4 inches
35 18 Max Ernst, Stratified Rocks, Nature's Gift of Gneiss Icelandic Moss 1920, gouache and pencil on printed paper on cardstock, 8 x 10 inches. 19 Max Ernst, The Wavering Woman, 1923, oil on canvas, 52 x 39 inches.
36 20 Max Ernst, The Anatomy (The School prepared Anatomy), 1921, collage. 21 Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 1992, photograph.
37 2 2 Cindy Sherman, Untitled #250 1992, photograph. 2 3 Raoul Hausmann, Der Geist Unserer Zeit Mechanischer Kopf (Mechanical Head [The Spirit of Our Age]), 1920, mixed media
38 2 4 Raoul Hausmann, Tatlin at Home 192 0, collage and gouache on paper