Crossing the boundaries and shimmering with universal meanings


"The numerical wheel possesses the course of its formation"
Daniil Harms

   Vladimir Martynov's art is in the area of new technologies and «third reality», allowing one artefact to arise directly from another. His images are profoundly reflective, and when viewed from a distance the space of their being is totally virtual; but their internal life is filled with authentic feeling and emotional energy and carries with itself a complicated context. Vladimir Martynov inspires seemingly formalized structures, making them breathe and pulse and in an instant change their state from object into subject. They belong to the world of utopia; the phenomenon of their origin is based in Fritz Lange's «Metropolis» and completed by the total space of structures and signals of Terry Gilliam's «Brazil». But something inexplicably alive, inseparable from the paradoxical wholeness of the sensual and intellectual, when experiencing their pulsation, makes us touch upon Tarkovsky's world in «Solaris». It is hard to accept their reality, but special courage is required to testify to their existence in our «irrecognizable» post-history. Turning these binary numerical structures, this artificial intellect and virtual corporeity into live organisms and to match their plastic images with human existence is not only to reveal man's dignity, his vision and organic gesture; in these dimensions one is introduced to new ethics and a new level of planetary ecology, where the problem of the animate and non-animate is resolved by universal cohesiveness. 
   Formally a virtual world, the endlessly varying objects of Vladimir Martynov remind us about a quality change in our space. The world of utopia, the simulated world gains reality in the testimonies of the artist, this world looks for responsiveness, and requires a dialogue with the artist – only then it loses its alienation, distance and aggressiveness. For the first time in the history of civilization we are not conscious of surrounding reality. This is something to which Vernadsky and Teilhard de Chardin pointed already in the 1920s. Reality has lost its external «human image», and does not have the creator’s imprint. Despite its functional dependency upon man, it is already autonomous and self-sufficient – it is a self-developing organism, a noosphere, which has the spatial and temporal, as Vladimir Martynov shows. 
   The objects presented by the artist, live in anonymity, without a name – «Unnamed» does not have a dedicated title. We find their nature in the novels of Phillip Dick and Brian Oldis; they shimmer with closeness to the forms of Fernan Leger and Kazimir Malevicz. They have already been born, but we still do not dare to give them a name or determine their context; it would at best change their aesthetic functions, for example recoding «urinal» to «fountain» as with Marcel Duchanne. 
   The name determining elements of any system place a conclusive accent on the theme «person and thing». These linguistic determiners clarify the meaning of things, their hierarchy, levels and connections. The language type of «the names of things» differentiates in astonishingly subtle ways the primary and the secondary, the obligatory and the free, «your own» and «somebody else's»; it tunes the thing to the sphere of the spiritual and human. The magical “unnamed” structures of Vladimir Martynov maintain the mystery of birth, while setting a new path for our civilization, more anonymous and at the same time universal. They were formed in the critical mass of the noospheric layer, appearing suddenly just as Picasso arriving in an automobile instead of a horse-drawn carriage to the premiere of Dyagilev’s ballet. Their shimmering screen-like image in postmodernist discourse becomes a metaphor of cultural status. The print-objects of the artist are totally comparable with ancient manuscripts, with palimpsest. Various text layers show through, with the simultaneous glittering of letter signs, lines and whole memory blocks. Just as with palimpsest, Vladimir Martynov’s “screens” put across a heterogeneous information space, as the noise of many texts, densely packed on the synchronously observable image plane. The artist seems to rewrite the total archive of stored up surplus culture, turning it into circulating flows, into the labyrinths of the world library. The images of these messages are totally unpredictable, while at the same time directed according to the temporal axis into the nearest future, with the totality of the cultural memory texts. In their expanses, in these endless empires of signs act impersonal flows of intensity: an ultra-rational desire to reproduce the Script, in the form of signs on a forest path, tattoos or as the texts of Australian aborigines. 
   The computer pictograms of Vladimir Martynov live as a textual fabric, as a glittering field of meanings, boundless and inexhaustible, on the plane of which we ourselves exist, exchanging signs, remembering and programming future opportunities. With these strategic coordinates the artist becomes a manuscript’s copier, a guide, a medium, a tool for transmitting the anonymous buzz of language. He is the collector and the preserver of texts, which having become a message, immediately become ancient and archaic, and live in irrational anamnesis. Its computer matrix gradually takes on surviving forms, discovering within itself the lost images of art’s totality as a metalanguage. The rational modules of this technological imagery are alleviated over time, refined by the exudation of the ancient 0 and 1, the archetypes of the beginning and the end. They are connected with us through their essential internal state, since they conceal within themselves the numerical code of the world. Their usefulness is paradoxically filled with «uselessness» - that is how Kazimir Malevich denoted the “empty” functions of his architectons, regarding them as cosmic fabric, as the magical knots of being: that which forms its context. The same system was «played» and collected by Vladimir Nabokov, who fully endowed it with the same uselessness and disinterestedness that he considered the «highest meaning and principle of art». 
   Looking into the disinterestedness of Vladimir Martynov’s complete matrix forms, we, as with a magical crystal, find out our own encoded structure, where in a single image the stars, the minerals, the plants, our intellect and the pulsing of our own heart are all reflected. We see in front of us the unpacked numerical phenomenon, DNA, but simultaneously this is the objective paradoxical phenomenon of space, the artistic object or the ready-made thing of Marcel Duchane, the X-rays of the structure of conscience, and objective universal communications, created by the laws of non-Euclidean geometry. Its lines suddenly become denser, gain volume, and make explicit the contours of other dimensions, filled with chance occurring as real creatures, changing the spectrum, the dynamics, the size and the state of internal tensions. The artist moves from integral dimensions 0, 1 – to what seems impossible further in the same row – to fractions. Fluid fractional dimensions allow Vladimir Martynov to show the discontinuity and instability of the system, reveal the spatial intervals between the stable states, to leave the boundaries of «null forms», as well as «suprematism in contours». His actions reproduce in discrete numerical images those non-linear states, which in 1913 Kazimir Malevich showed through the pulsing light of searchlights in his performance opera “Victory over the Sun”; they undermine the banal «roots» of the disk of the sun, «soaked with arithmetic». Vladimir Martynov finds his own visual and numerical equivalent of the circle’s geometry: the «tubular» shapes of the Russian avant-garde, with dynamic and tonal length as an irrational state, discovering unstable order or, vice verse, stable disorder, creating order out of chaos. His geometry resembles the matrix of “carpets” and «textile printing», where any arbitrary point is the center of branching, a kind of commutator, a “plug” in the structure. Its images conceal endlessness, taking root within itself, increasing its dimensions, widening them, and multiplying them as a generator. The forms of this variation are built into the “technology” of their birth, where the same transformation repeats itself on absolutely different scales, realizing the «principle of internal resemblance». 
   Vladimir Martynov’s fractal structures, while maintaining their disinterested virtuality, in reality turn out to be capable of transmitting a variety of meanings. Having opened with images of utopia, the “eternal perpetuum mobile» of art, they forget that they are simulation and hope to turn into spiritualized mechanisms, into the «iron woodcutters» of the magical land of OZ. Here we suddenly cross the meridian of visual metaphysics and discover ourselves to be in the expanses of a great frontier – a unique artistic situation, in its phenomenal margins, where it enters life unnoticed and dissolves in its horizons.

Vitaly Patsukov


November 2004