„We grow out of a Circle stolen by the Earth from the Sun in its womb“
The Man-Shepherd (Poimandres) says in Corpus Hermeticum: “When the material body is to be dissolved, first thou surrenderest the body by itself unto the work of change, and thus the form thou hadst doth vanish, and thou surrenderest thy way of life, void of its energy, unto the Daimon. The body’s senses next pass back into their sources, becoming separate, and resurrect as energies; and passion and desire withdraw unto that nature which is void of reason.” The properties of material structure are composition and decomposition. The constituent parts are bound together by a force which makes the whole more than the sum of its parts. And when this force is no longer at work, the parts dissipate. The process of matter decomposition seems very easy to explain. The absence of Life’s “magnetic” force destroys the Whole. But we could ask if the material components of the decomposed Body come out of this union changed by having dwelled in the ontological dimension of Life, or does returning to a state of pre-Union snap them back into what they were before.
Miran Blažek’s Ratio series grew from his experiences shaped through Inside Story (2013) and a part of Monochromy/tony shown in Koprivnica Gallery in 2015. Inside Story was the first project in which Blažek distanced himself from earlier painting experiences where he rubbed black oil paint by hand onto each segment of the canvas’ surface, including some of its edges. Inside Story featured more than the artist’s action, turning him into both the boundary and the content of the work as he rubbed charcoal as far as he could reach by extending his arm, after which he cast a miniature model of the gallery interior out of charcoal dust. “He” was still the only measure of his work. In Koprivnica Gallery there was a conceptual shift, but charcoal remained the main material. Blažek then used two opposite gallery walls, connecting three rooms at the intersection, using his body as measure. He found their geometric centers and expanded them into circles defined by the reach of his extended arms. Two circles stood in observation of one another, at the intersection of space, until the observer could watch them simultaneously. At this point Blažek ceased to be the sole mean of his work, because concentric expansion and contraction of the circular form is no longer defined by an “upward facing” vertical pivot point [anthropos], as was the case in Inside Story. Now the center of the circle becomes the guideline, as the point from which the work emanates and which it returns to.
The Ratio series followed in this vein, and was shown in this form at the same exhibition. The series consists of circular/elliptical pieces created by rubbing charcoal onto the walls of the gallery. The center of each piece is also the geometric center of the wall on which the shape is applied. Upon “entering” the center of the wall, Blažek draws a circle, directly inscribing the proportions of his body. His circles aspire to occupy the geometric centers of all available walls. The circle is inscribed regardless of how far the surface of the wall permits it. Through circular shapes defined by embodiment – in this case the shape of his body – Blažek attempts to inscribe a cosmic reality which is visually representable, but also woven into eternity, because his body is not the sole measure of reality, but only of what managed to transsubstantiate from the Center. The knowledge of this mean was described by the Roman architect Vitruvius and depicted by Leonardo da Vinci in his drawing of the Vitruvian Man. Leonardo used it to illustrate the proportions inherent to the human body, echoing an idea first formulated by Leucippus’ student Democritus, of man as a microcosm inscribed into the world just as the world is inscribed into him. Man is inscribed with a reality which he transcribes externally onto the world which finally circumscribes him as a being. Homo cosmografia del minor mondo est, because his body proportions are inscribed with numeric ratios based on the same numeric mysticism imprinted into the universe. The man’s arm span equals his height or, as Vitruvius put it, erit eaque mensura ad manas pansas. This is the intersection of the world enclosed in a circle – a symbol of the sky which appears “when the need arises to express that which cannot be thought, what is merely intuited or felt.”
Along with inscribing his own (micro)cosmic nature, charcoal was also a deliberate choice, for its capacity to metaphorically contain Sun’s energy inside the bowels of the Earth. The containment is not only metaphorical, because coal is made from trees which once lived and absorbed Sun’s energy. The energy of the charcoal trace reaches out to this hidden energy in order to rediscover it. In this sense this is not creation, but renewal – renovationem vitae. The trace of charcoal is the bearer and conduit of life energy it itself arose from and which was inscribed in it when it was still a tree.
To live is to leave a trace – to carry a candle out of a womb whose darkness it illuminates with its timid flame. Darkness is night – an oasis of silence and peace in which only the Mind can see. “From here I turn to the holy, unspeakable, mysterious night,” writes Novalis and continues: “Afar lies the world – sunk in a deep grave – waste and lonely is its place. In the chords of the bosom blows a deep sadness. I am ready to sink away in drops of dew, and mingle with the ashes.” On this fallow land of life cultivation has to stop for a moment because the center has to open before we can enter it. Emanation is just an illusory wasting of the Fullness, because it is the basis of a future accumulation. The circle and the charcoal are collecting points, a kind of terra (in)cognita where complete silence witnesses ceaseless entering and exiting. The noise is captivating, but silence is even more so – it is the basis of an unattained and unattainable possibility of “perfect solitude” in which true aloneness always directly puts us, in the words of Thomas Merton. Leaving a trace is the drumming of the silence of the circle, as the perfection of the circle hosts a fractal infinity in which perfect silence and perfect noise are one and the same.
To return to our question: “Do the material components of the decomposed Body come out of this union changed by having dwelled in the ontological dimension of Life, or does returning to a state of pre-Union snap them back into what they were before?” Once infused with life, matter does not lose it. Life merely mutates inside it, flows and swells. To face the Sun is to bring Sun because hidden reality is not nonexistent – it exists in silence and darkness; it is an existing silence and an existing darkness. Blažek’s circles are an attempt to reach both, to reach the one into which everything is exponentially woven, including itself. Does this attempt sound pretentious to you? But I have a question for you: Isn’t your every breath pretentious in itself?