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Dominika Truszczyńska

Lines of the world

     The specific theory of relativity assumes that our universe is a four-dimensional space/time continuum. Individual points in this continuum are called events. Each point is an equivalent of a physical phenomenon on a very small scale and lasting for a very short time. Nevertheless, real physical phenomena (like the flight of a ball) form a continuous, uninterrupted line, called the line of the world. All such events are perceived by motionless observers, usually conceived as physical objects. And every observer that has not been put in spme sort of accelerating motion may be described as an inertial system of reference which unmistakably and unambigously localizes events1.
     When copying data from one computer disc to another, at least I sometimes happen repeatedly to have the following experience: the computer says that the whole thing will take, for example, 10 seconds - and then when I look at the time, it turns out that the first second lasted, let us say, a minute, and only the next one really took a second. It is then that I start to wonder why my computer considered this particular bit of information to be so important that its treatment took it more time than it predicted itself.
     Around such an assumption, inspired, so to say, by the theory of relativity, Dominika Truszczyńska has built her latest project called 12 Glimpses of Infinity. Time and memory are naturally inscribed into all kinds of artistic practices, but some artists explore them more consistently than others. Dominika belongs to the former. Her previous series, WARSAW, quite ascetic in terms of form, recalled the spirits we had to live with in Warsaw wounded by the war. Her another work, Little Landscapes, Also Called Secrets, is a clever game with the viewer as well as with the authoress, a game in which objects are made to lead double lives (on two ontological levels): a real life, led underground, unseen, and a fictional one, visible or even garrulously evident. Then Dominika’s work Disappearing My-Self was, on the other hand, an experiment with exposition time, very telling as far as the confirmation - in time - of one’s identity is concerned.
     12 Glimpses of Infinity, the series presented at this exhibition, is a string of works devoted to remembering and the return to whatever is remembered, to different rhythms and various configurations of images. "How does this work?" - Dominika asks. "Which moment of our lives do we experience more intensely than others, which moment do we remember? The expression on that woman’s face? This man’s gaze or the wild laughter of this child? This fraction of silence, caught in a frozen lake, or that spark of fear I felt when I thought that the ice was breaking? The sadness that I felt when I realized how much people wanted to see death (they all ran to see this corpse on the railroad tracks)? Do we remember everything? Every moment separately? Or neither?"
     The series consists of twelve long light-boxes, displaying something that immediately made me think of the term "lines of the world". In this case all "events" were registered on film that was freely moved, physically pulled inside the camera. We usually see just one "event" at a time, like looking around, which sometimes has a clear beginning and ending, and sometimes gets completely dissolved in time/space continuum. This is because these pictures differ from classic panoramas, as they "take place" in four dimensions. Fragments of the event overlap, return, and sometimes leap farther to some other point both on the map and in time. Even the light-boxes are different from those most commonly used because they are modular and merely their fragments can be seen (moreover, only in the rhythm set by the artist). A frame hitherto dark suddenly reveals a completely new play of meanings, a figure appears, unseen before in the dark - we see some apparition, colour, texture - and thus the whole fragment gains new significance. This what our remembered moments are like, those moments whose intake perhaps took us a little more time than just a second, as we at first assumed (after all, the computer’s brain has been modelled on ours!), and which remain with us for longer than just a second in some hidden nook or ceanny of our consciousness. These are the moments we experience more intensely as something more authentic, more important and even existing as if "more" than others because of their emotional value, beauty or surprise. Between such moments of illumination (literally and metaphorically) "black holes" appear. Dominika says: "Maybe these holes are not so black and empty, maybe there is a lot of consumption and digestion of experience going on there, you know, like between meals, which is when living organisms actually feed".
     But this play of meanings is two-dimensional here. On the one hand, the whole "strip", the continuum of events shown on a single film is precisely such an important fragment of memory removed from between the black holes in our consciousness - and on the other hand, even in this fragment we can distinguish still smaller "lines of the world" which can be seen because light shines on them from behind. By emphasizing various fragments in such a way, the whole - as we can call it now - scene gains various meanings. Sometimes the centre of attention is its beginning, sometimes the end, sometimes it is the most powerful fragment, sometimes the most languid one. One could almost say that it is a form of art bordering on photography and film, except that by changing the place of emphasis in Dominika’s works, the same original material may be interpreted as several completely different stories.
     The artist knows that such continua - even if they are registered on a photographic plate, not only in the "matrix" of the brain - tell a different truth than the truth of the real event. "But what was really «real»?" - Dominika thinks. "It seems that this «reality», this «truth», dulled and bored by its own unshaken validity, is not unconditional. More important for us, for me, is how a given string of events has imprinted itself on my consciousness, how it has registered on sensitive material - on me".
     The installation called 12 Glimpses of Infinity at the same time registers and "generates" such parallel truths. The fact that the form of these works is actually infinite plus the unpredictability of associations, interpretations and implications is what attracts the authoress to the idea behind them. Here we can again refer to the theory of relativity where in the time/space continuum terms "time-path" and "spatial path" are used. Namely, if two observers are present in two different systems of reference between which only a time-path exists, and they are watching two different events, between which only a spatial path exists, then using the specific theory of relativity we can prove that for both observers such events may take place in a different order.
     Dominika Truszczyńska wonders what moral implications this may have, and what chances of communication it offers. Does not the paralellness and equivalence of truths lead to the production of one’s own hierarchies and decalogues? She adds, however: "I don’t want to talk about extremes. I want to suggest an idea, make people reflect, though what I’m saying is nothing new, it is no revelation. Still let me remind you that life is not unambiguous or absolute. I don’t make anything easier expressing this idea. Choices in this not black-and-white world are more difficult, and more choices means more responsibility".
     I am very happy that Dominika asks questions about responsibility in the project that could be, after all, considered just a light-headed formal experiment. I think that especially in the face of the actually infinite field of interpretation it is exactly responsibility that becomes the key issue when we get down to the reflections on the possibility of the artist communicating with the public at large. Nowadays, when people talk a lot about freedom of speech, they rarely add that freedom also requires responsibility, especially in this case, because communication between the artist and the viewer (by means of a work of art) takes place on many, sometimes very vague levels. How we read the message of an artwork, but also even how we plan or live our lives, depends largely on details, atmosphere, impressions and sometimes illusions. As Dominika says - it depends on whether we have just stepped into a puddle or not. And though certain truths seem obvious (like that the beach is idle, the market busy and in a big city "we measure the rhythm of skyscrapers with the rhythm of our footsteps"), our reading of these apparently objective situations depends also on what we include in it, for example, on whether our leg is still wet from the puddle…
     12 Glimpses of Infinity is, however, an optimistic project, like all works by Dominika Truszczyńska. It is optimistic because Dominika is, as usual, striving for balance and personally interested in the whole process, i.e. in epistemology and self improvement rather than in the predicted effect. "No matter whether at the end we get what we expected or something completely different - says Dominika - we should regard nothing as a disappointment or an epistemological mistake - because our life is one empirical success".
1 According to Wikipedia

Klara Kopcińska

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