— i chose this as the title of my phd, with the understanding that this corresponded most closely with the way which (my) practice (practice in general) contributed to praxis – that is the dialectic between theory, practice or the practical, and its outcome – action or engagement with world.
— that is the relation between the three forms of knowledge identified by aristole, theoria, poiesis and praxis.
— and constructive montage as opposed to montage as such, to underscore the idea that the constellation that is brought about, is driven by a konstructive principle.
— it takes as its starting point the idea proffered by benjamin in his arcades project – or passagen-werk – that montage is raised by technique (technik) to the level of a constructive principle. a technique born out of the modern metropolis. and perhaps more importantly capitalist modernity.
— as ester leslie describes it, the //arcades were passages through blocks of buildings, lined with shops and other businesses. montaged iron and glass constructions housed chaotic juxtapositions of shop-signs, window displays of commodities, mannequins and illuminations. as the nineteenth century gives way to the twentieth century, montage moves from being a prescript of construction in technology to art and literature: from the eiffel tower to dada and surrealism to the city novels of alfred döblin, john dos passos, james joyce and others. montage construction treats its material elements as contrasting segments that must be bolted together for maximum impact. in architecture this might lead to a dramatic exoskeleton, a whole building built up from small parts whose connectedness is on display. in textual form this means fragments, apercus, swift shifts of thought, the establishment of relationship between disparate objects, across a whole environment.//
— it was the city outside, the street, turned inside.
— montage, the technique of selecting, arranging, and piecing together separate fragments to produce a new composite whole constructed such that the its methods are on show.
it suggests a juxtaposition of material that brings forth a new synthesis from out of this material. meaning materialises from its underlying constructive nature and the conflict of opposing forces.
quoting walter benjamin
//the modern method of montage is not a seamless whole; it is constructed out of fragments. images that make visible the jagged line of demarcation between physical nature and meaning.// walter benjamin [my emphasis]
but what is important, is that this constructive montage holds back this synthesis until a moment of revelation [to use another of benjamin’s words] this flash of insight exposes the hidden traces held within the material – it has a ballistic quality that combats reification and illusion. and in turn this has a political dimension
central to benjamin’s conception of montage was that it was already at hand in the early arcades…
quoting from susan buck morss the arcades project – the dialectics of seeing
— // in the kaleidoscopic, fortuitous juxtaposition of shop signs and window displays [it] was raised by technology [technik] … to the level of a conscious principle of construction.
she makes a further point to emphasis this, and notes that the kaleidoscope’s predecessor was the chinese puzzle which
— // juxtaposed elements [that] were not randomly arranged but cohered around a central idea, it was the true ur-phenomenon of the principle of montage as a constructive principle//
— ur-phenomenon – this is an formulation borrowed by benjamin from goethe to combat the mere subjective interpretation of the world. through this
outside-in view, goethe observed that in the study of nature, as opposed to the physical sciences, the object of knowledge was perceived immediately through ‘irreducible observation’ and through which the general [the laws and principles that lie behind it] revealed itself immediately – echoing aristole – within the particular form. from this he states and this was also taken up by benjamin in his idea of montage:
— //the highest thing would be to grasp that everything factual is already theory. the blue of the sky reveals to us the fundamental law of chromatics. one would never search for anything behind the phenomena; they themselves are the theory.//
— the constellation gathered here between immediacy, facticity and sustained and careful, irreducible observation is important when considering world.
in the sence that natural land-scapes have become cultural landscapes. in this it might be understood that the term natural as an entirely theoretical construct.
this then, more appropriate for our concerns than the sixteenth century notion of the scenic (landscape). and as such we should see the present ‘natural’ landscape as one that that is em-bodied and in-habited, and socially and historically determined.
west penwith is no exception to this. what is perhaps different here is the haptic presence of a conspicuous ancient occupation.
in siting my practice in west penwith from one which was rooted in the modern metropolis highlights another juxtaposition.
that of the modern and the ancient – the present and its connection to a distant past – what is present here in the land-scape is the rude presence of that past in this present.
it is a past that is perhaps hidden or lost or ignored or, on the other hand, it is the object of science or phenomenology or landscape studies, even of myth. it is the task of the work that i am presently engaged in to make that past present to recover the mythic and the majical and to re-function them in the present to open up the present to radically new historical and creative possibilities. and this pertains whether that past is its most recent presence or its most ancient. and clearly this enters the political.