Under the name of Prisma, Julius Heinemann‘s exhibition is articulated into three spaces and moments: a pictorial intervention on the wall that reveals its internal structure; a set of paintings in the main hall; and their reflection in a camera obscura produced through an opening in the wall.
“Light has existed on Earth from its very beginnings. Vision is an adaptation to light. It has not always existed.” (1)
1. Paleontology has proved that the first eye appeared as a response to light during the Cambrian period 544 million years ago. It allowed a biological revolution that gave a new kind of awareness to independent life forms in their relationship with their environment and to their own development. With the eye, vision is born, and with vision, the image. According to its internal architecture, this organ detects and transforms stimuli generated by waves produced by light particles into information that is reproduced in the brain as color, shape and arrangement. But, as quantum physics reminds us, far from apprehending an objective reality this sensory system forms an individual mental representation.
2. Aristotle was the first to describe what he called afterimages: the imagetic remanence that vibrates insistently, in our vision, with the complementary color of the object which is being stared at. Newton breaks down the beam of white light into seven colors through a prism; Novalis, a century later, wonders if we see physically or with our imagination; and Goethe explains the internal reaction to external color stimuli in a study about the pathologies of vision. Thus, in his poetic treatise on Colour Theory (1810), Goethe, in the wake of Aristotle’s theory of afterimages, sustains that “optical illusion is optical truth.” It is no coincidence that the Greek philosopher expressed this idea in his treaties about sleep, wakefulness and dreaming, three states of “suspension.” It is this state, beyond the exercise of doubt, which would be, for Sloterdijk (2), the territory that enables active critical thinking through the exercise of looking, and reaches new dimensions by “eliminating aspects of our own existence,” thus allowing a new form of knowledge.
Lets take this expanded practice of “epojé” as a point of departure to consider consciously building what is uncertain. Hélio Oiticica (3) defined the act of painting as a combination of color and structure. Disassociating himself from the traditional concepts of space and time, he established new relationships between object and subject. Taking a step further, as does Amazonian perspectivism, the object and the subject would relate in the same subjective level. Perception as such would fall apart, and we would have to review “our excessively rationalized mental habits” (4) to reach a previous phase where, maybe, we would see an undetermined image. Thus, Heinemann’s strategies (the painted window, the paintings on the white cube which resemble windows and which are fragments of the wall/structure/world, and finally the reflection of painting) disclose how the rational system relies on constructions and at the same time releases new subjective space-time relations between the line, the pictorial mark, the smudge. Thus his painting practice could be seen as a poetics of resistance.
3. With the light that passes through a focus point, the camera obscura produces an image of a world waiting to be fixed. The paradox is that in both images, the window as a utopian exterior reality and the darkened room as a technologically recreated ideal, cannot escape that “claim to be real.” (5) What we see comes from handling or manipulating images and/or memories “with claims to the real.” Thus, “space-territory” and “time-history” are bound to normative notions. To introduce these perceptions into a simultaneous and multiple thought dynamic, as suggested by Bruno Latour (6), would allow us to examine both scientific and poetic conventions and to discover uncertainty as an open arena of possible knowledge.