Solitude is not just ´being alone´; it is an active experience, outside of all societal rules. This series of models is a pataphysical inquiry into non-living objects evolving in solitude, pointing out how objects exist, act, and “live” beyond the realm of human perception.
Outside of a utilitarian gaze, matter exposes its own characteristics; it starts telling stories and even ´vibrate´. What would a rock do in solitude? The philosophies of Pataphysics and Object-Oriented Ontology allows the space where relations between subjects and objects, living and inanimate are redefined. In this space without hierarchies, objects can offer an analogy to human experiences such as Solitude.
Alfred Jarry, the founder of pataphysics, enjoyed annoying his physics teacher by giving him imaginary solutions to his scientific questions and he would joke that what he was saying was pataphysical which was a pun on ‘pas-ta-physique’ which translated to ‘not your physics’. It is an escape from reality – reminding us just how idiotic the rules that dog our everyday existence are. Object Oriented Ontology similarly gives room for questioning whether non-human entities experience existence outside our definition of consciousness. It gives room to imagine the lives of objects as conscious entities in a state of Solitude.
Solitude, as a topic, is subjective and each person has their own idea of what solitude means to them. When I first started researching this topic with regards to its history, it was more a matter of privilege to be in solitude. It was also important to note how solitude and loneliness are different, where one is a personal choice and the latter is a feeling that can be felt in any situation, even in the midst of society. This inspiration, of solitude as a topic of research, came about through my thesis on Lighthouses In Iceland, where I was researching on the culture behind lighthouse keepers and the idea of isolation.
The curiosity on this topic led me to the creation of the Institute Of Solitude. This was a platform for myself to experiment with different media in a state of solitude. These experiments were in the form of videos, photographs, interactive installations and archives. The experiments were either trying to create an atmosphere of solitude or were arising from being in a state of solitude myself. The initial research during these experiments was more around the five senses and how I could use and manipulate these aspects to create an atmosphere of solitude.
The only recurring problem within these experiments was the realisation that each iteration of the portrayal of solitude was my own idea of solitude. It could never be the general idea of solitude. The interactive installations would grant the power of control to the viewer, to change the state of things in the room, but the installation itself was enough of a distraction for the audience to not actually be in solitude. The focus was being put on the interaction rather than putting the viewer in a state of introspection. This also was the case with experimenting with video and sound, where the aesthetic of both was a projection of my own idea of solitude which people may not agree with. This led me to look at the subject from afar again and see what really defines solitude.
Solitude is not just ´being alone´; it is an active experience, outside of all societal rules.
This line above was something I kept looking back on, through this process. It is something that informed my thinking and gave me a way forward. The idea of it being “an active experience, outside of all societal rules”, did intrigue my way of working pataphysically and also led me to the philosophy of object oriented ontology. Alfred Jarry, the founder of pataphysics, enjoyed annoying his physics teacher by giving him imaginary solutions to his scientific questions and he would joke that what he was saying was pataphysical which was a pun on ‘pas-ta-physique’ which translated to ‘not your physics’.
It has no particular definition because pataphysics states that every definition is right and every definition is wrong. This also speaks to the subjectivity of the topic of solitude, where everyone has their own idea of solitude and no one is right and no one is wrong.
For me, pataphysics is the science of creating and exploring an imaginary world and maybe even parallel universes not restricted by time and space, where things make complete sense without making any sense. Laws of physics do not work in the same way in a pataphysical reality, as they do in this reality. This idea of creating and imagining an alternate reality led me to think in a more fictional direction. I started looking into how non-living things would behave and react in a state of solitude and what would they do if they were in solitude. This was also further fuelled by the philosophy of Object Oriented Ontology(OOO), which gave room for questioning wether non- human entities experience existence outside our definition of consciousness. It allowed me to create a pataphysical inquiry into non-living objects evolving in solitude, pointing out how objects exist, act, and “live” beyond the realm of human perception.
This was a stage where I started thinking of a rock doing things in solitude and how it would behave in a state of solitude if left alone. I thought of a rock because it is a very static object in nature, yet ever-changing in shape and color.
But before I get into this piece, which eventually became my final piece, I would like to talk about some philosophical dilemmas that were plaguing me regarding the topic of Object Oriented Ontology. The idea of existence sits on the side of the subject and is a product of language, as is consciousness which allows the ‘here and now’ to be present. This is something that also goes in the field of physical laws which have been defined by us based on the understanding of the world at the time of observation, but is always incomplete in the sense that it is an ontological failure of the object in itself. The concept of an object is problematic in a sense that it raises questions of it being a self- enclosed entity or is it an illusion, because all matter is in a state of flux?
Unlike Object Oriented Ontology, which is a very much object centred reality, Zizek, a Slovenian philosopher, claims that we cannot subtract the subject’s gaze from the objects without inscribing ourselves into them in some form. There is no object without the subject and the former is dependent on the latter for it’s “being(ness)”, where the subject decides the notion of the object’s independent and coherent identity. This question of the identity of the rock, was still in a way a my very human centric idea of what it would do in a state of solitude.
I have accepted this fact in the fiction that I am creating with the rock and the philosophies of Pataphysics and Object Oriented Ontology. Through the use of a simple form of human expression, painting, I can create a link between the non living conscious state and the human conscious state of being in solitude. Where it is an introspective act and an active experience , devoid of all societal rules.
The rock, painting on a canvas in a random motion, is a reaction to the state of solitude and an analogy to this human experience. This idea became my final piece because it is a simple yet powerful act of a rock painting in solitude. The rock eventually made 10 paintings over the period of the exhibition that were randomized and no painting was the same. It is also combining the philosophies of Pataphysics and OOO which allows the space for such imaginary solutions. This also allowed me to explore and create the fiction of searching for certain “species” of non living objects, being caught in the state of solitude through scientific research.
The accompanying publication( Link:(molecular solitude 2) is a fictional publication that arises from this institute of solitude which shows findings and scientific propositions about these fictional “species”. It is a publication that acknowledges this fiction of objects exists because of the existence of a subject. It plays with human emotions and thoughts, and uses the scientific and poetic language to explain this new reality. The scientific language of talking about matter and particles in the scientific world gives life to them through the way they are described. It has a way of speaking about them as if they are living entities where particles are made of molecules and atoms which move and are constantly in a state of change. Also all particles have their own gravitational force which attracts or affects things around them and so incorporating such concepts gives another layer of consciousness to the materials around you.
In conclusion the idea of using such philosophical and psychological concepts in the field of design is important. It creates a new reality in which concepts can be explored much more freely, not restricted by the reality we live in. It creates new possibilities for interaction with the material that is being used and also builds a unique relationship between the designer and the material. The material starts communicating more and exposes its characteristics, which makes us empathise with the material itself. It creates a ground of respect between the material, designer and the viewer. The material or object is no longer seen as a lifeless part but very much an active part of the process and concept.