Geert Goiris and the Infallible Terror Dome

Within the Goiris’ works, we can consider a primordial slithering out of the first cave on two legs, a walk out into the world in which every element is against our survival. Like Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” there is a new calibration of meaning to nameless shadows.

 

Flash Bulb memories, Ash Grey Prophesies, The Prophet, Lecture FOAM Museum, Amsterdam. 4.16.15

“Ghosts, as well as all manner of undead monsters, are symbols of inconvenient truths”. Derrida

By Brad Feuerhelm, ASX, April 2015

The refusal of enlightenment, its inverse, …the desolate…and the natural urge to witness an event of decimation is as old as the world itself. The enlightenment featured a methodology of the sublime that questioned man’s presence before the natural world in his relation to “God”. In the current epoch, we have replaced the sublimity of spirit for that of acceleration and speed that has a lesser hierarchical place for the rumination of God in the belly of the machinery of connectedness.

We have become enslaved with the need for rebirth and its consequences on a mass level, which evokes a necessity of cleansing purity. Needed is a potential “stop” button as this ride speeds beyond our control, the bolts of the machine that spins underpinning our fears that its bolts will come loose and we will be flung into an abyss of which we somehow yearn to be the lone survivor in the crash. We wish to witness the wasteland and destruction that is left. After all, a simple change in the ionosphere could create a cataclysmic shift in which all life becomes quickly perishable. The potential for mass tragedy is not so far fetched.

Within the post-human or post-apocalyptic scenario there is suggested a “saved” observer, like in Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”. We inhabit our body as survivor/savior. This diplomacy of this position is at the cost of all but a few, and subsequently returns our status to that of a benevolent humanist nature. There is the romantic notion of reclaiming a fight against a universe left barren and unable to provide. It suggests a personal god complex.

Within the Goiris’ works, we can consider a primordial slithering out of the first cave on two legs, a walk out into the world in which every element is against our survival. Like Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” there is a new calibration of meaning to nameless shadows.

 

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Subterrain, 2011

In effect, the dystopian absolute possible in the post-apocalyptic, absolves the survivor from being human, therefore a burgeoning post-humanism, a nearly mystic servitude enables the man, team, tribe against the natural world and conditions their position as super-human.

 

We can imagine a fight for our survival as observed by an entity that places this existence of this survival as an exalted/saved position. In effect, the dystopian absolute possible in the post-apocalyptic, absolves the survivor from being human, therefore a burgeoning post-humanism, a nearly mystic servitude enables the man, team, tribe against the natural world and conditions their position as super-human.

This, in large part, is suggestive of why post-apocalyptic culture is Omni-present. Nobody wants to believe themself ranked within the multitude of the dead, but rather immediately, one presents their survivalist position when the idea occurs. To ruminate over this in the discourse of the cinematic, or photographic, also suggests not only a demi-god complex, but also violence inherent in man that is needed against the natural world. And while this violence is carried within, he is also under the romantic notion of what was…the memory, …the family pictures he carries while stumbling along a jagged path in crumbling shoes trying to find where he placed the last of the butane to light the last fire as his collected/contaminated rain water runs out of his grubby Evian bottle.

Within the cinematic post-human and post apocalyptic desire, there is inherent, the survivalist position of rebirth. Notable films from the Omega man through to the current fascination with the undead other, namely the Zombie phenomenon, enlists a systematic approach to the potential of the rebirth of society by force-employing tribal groups whom are pitted against the newly external world of nature to re-create a new society with new rules. Within this tradition, Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”, the Mad Max films and the post-nuclear series “Threads” for example, there is a transversal spectrum of life against the landscape of desolation. Protagonists must travel as conditions become harder to find safety. The need for water, food, and shelter…basic survival modes become existential dilemmas and unfavorable dramas ensue.

Within the history of photography, the post-apocalyptic is somewhat contained to the immediate after-effect of the disaster. From the Paris Commune in 1871 (which was another in a series of tribal gatherings by way of communards), with the rubble strewn barricades and the Hotel de Ville in ruins, to the after-effect of Hiroshima, it is important to note that there is more of an intent to understand the destruction of the event itself and not the consequences of its passing. This is largely because there always points to the potential of re-building within the existing familiar of society.

In Richard Peter SR’s. “Dresden: Eine Kamera Klagt an” the journey through the post-apocalyptic becomes a hybrid which seeks out the specters of the dead…the firebombed corpses of Nazi soldiers, and also the city laid to waste. In a way, Peter’s book is from the position of survivor. He documents the immediate after, but wanders the streets alone, but there are signs of re-building and life continues without end, per se.

The work that potentially shares the closest methodology to Geert’s work is that of Kikuji Kawada’s “The Last Cosmology”. Kawada spent time observing the brooding and crumbling black and white patterns of decay in post-war Japan, looking up occasionally to photograph the moon or an eclipse. He incorporates the same sense of poetic stillness that is found in Geert’s images of architecture. A fragrant blanket of velvety darkness augments the smell of rich wet soil…In Kawada’s work, the soliloquy of eschatological matters meld with a soft poeticism that hints at the aftermath, but rather,  focuses on the what it means to be alone as a metaphorical species of one.

Within literature, J.G.Ballard’s “The Drowned World” and Nevil Shute’s “On The Beach” are eminent displays of the minutiae of difficulty that is revealed in a world in which the global network of life is rent asunder. The speculation of societal displacement, overwhelming waves of human death, and the slow decay of life exhibit imagination outside of the origins of previous Judeo Christian apocalyptic writings, notably by John of Patmos (himself, also a troglodyte scribe).

All exhibit the trait of man/woman/group that become a “seer”/survivor against nature and many of the details of the literature and cinema envisage a stillness of life. The stillness or dis-quiet in these allegories can also be transferred to the still image, again notably, the photographic. The stillness employed exemplifies a brooding system of the image, and in doing so becomes even more “credible” through the use of this quiet unmoving and that of the uncertain.

 

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Dead Bird, 2008

…the family pictures he carries while stumbling along a jagged path in crumbling shoes trying to find where he placed the last of the butane to light the last fire as his collected/contaminated rain water runs out of his grubby Evian bottle.

 

Within Goiris’ works, which exist largely in metaphor and without many consequences of people, we begin to ascribe a “queer stillness” to the landscape through the atmospheric elements that the artist employs. There is a screaming static, a resonating and brusque humming within the frame that caters to seeing these landscapes or occasional traces of man as foreign or unmoving…still. It is with new eyes that we must adjust our perspective from the dim light of the cave.

 

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Mammatus, 2010

The soliloquy of eschatological matters meld with a soft poeticism that hints at the aftermath, but rather, focuses on what it means to be alone as a metaphorical species of one.

 

To explore that of the hauntological

The afterglow of frenetic industry and populations toiling rhythmically along in past-tense have become obtuse scales of measurement for the now barren and poetically quiet, as somber dark water logged skies form and further inform a awkward sensibility of place.

The sky suggests a forthcoming rain of ash and the presence of perhaps an alienable otherness. Everything points towards an un-nameable sequestering of life. It is a piecemeal interrogation system of image acquisition where the tattered and frayed edges of our knowledge system hint at the specter of a vivacious pretense, but this presence is largely unseen. The works become a foray into that of the hauntological. That is to say, there is an inherent echo of a former life and function of subjects within the works that the artist has chosen to deploy, which become whispers of ghosts in the current “now”.

These echoes carry the pressure and weight of existence forward and become unnerving elements when the viewer contemplates the works. The cinematic appears and the gears of imagination contribute concretely to the notion of displacement and/or abandon. One may walk alone in Goiris works, kicking aside rubble, weeds and finding his or herself in commune with past whispers bouncing off the concrete walls of an estranged environment.

 

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Fragment 9, 2010

The stillness employed exemplifies a brooding system of the image, and in doing so becomes even more “credible” through the use of this quiet unmoving and that of the uncertain.

 

Within the hauntolgical framework, one can sense the presence of past lives, but cannot pinpoint their former physical manifestations. It is that of specter, which is large part enforces a pattern of fabricated memory or commune with the essence of spirit in unease. It is distinguishable again by the sublimity of the post-apocalyptic environment where the bodies of others in life or death are not present, but rather whisper or perhaps howl along the wind in their metaphorical presence.

We live in times of economic flux and a terrible uncertainty pervades our future sponsored largely by fear within the excess of media. A new tragedy forms every day and the likelihood of catastrophe pervades our lives. It is not without reason that the solace of the post-human and post-apocalyptic should find its way into our consciousness. Goiris’ work is emblematic of this mentality, but also that of a fictional (for now) environment where we may wander and see flora and fauna, architecture and fragment within the context of his/our associations to the metaphors of post-disaster.

In the work, new forms begin to gravitate into our idea of a narrative. There is a phenomenological yearning to place our bodies within the context of the terra incognita. Our potential role as the chosen/survivor provides a position over that of death’s multitude. The spectatorship of which confirms our re-assessment of “seer” and chosen.

 

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Trope, 2013

It is as is if to say that the sublime may exist outside of God and instead of enlightenment, we continue towards dis-enlightenment or that of the disenfranchised cinematic and alienating metaphor.

Within, there is the violent intent of man as survivalist in a world without species and he must carry this projection of self toward the environment of the uncanny or risk elimination. As solitary viewer, one assumes role a of otherness within this phenomenological discourse with space. The body becomes a vessel of with which to house alienating thought. Without the ability to communicate language with others and within the debunked presence of god through the cataclysmic, the survivor looks within and limits his/her potential to language. It promotes a systematic shift in which a return to the cave becomes a despairing potential. With nobody to name shadows with, one is given no outlet, less hope, and more specters to confront his/her unstable environment with. Everything becomes questionable and routine in the days of survival.

The post-apocalyptic sublime is but one particular potential for Goiris’ work. All is not to say the works are held in despair, but rather that the potentiality of the alienable is reflective of our political, economic, and societal possibilities at present. The images that carry the potential for this narrative are indicative of an infallible terror dome, performing a functioning dystopia of loss. It is a world in which our post-human future is at once hoped for as exalted survivorship and at once protested in the abject affirmation of colossal death and destruction. Along the way, Goiris camera offers a potential to record past the limits of human society. The spectacle of which, both imagined and with credible potential, offers a theory for a future in which images will finally be understood as obsolete, but the question remains if human behavior will still desire to record footnotes along the way as it stumbles into the quiet and brooding darkness.

 

 

 

(All rights reserved. Text @ Brad Feuerhelm. Images @ Geert Goiris.)

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