=Abstract Engineering for Dummies=

____________________________O you EngiNears Far en Close
for a lively energetic response to one sectionf A/O.

September 10, 2009||||||||||||||||| fora proclamation declaration.
What is a table? Without a stable base and a surface upon which to put things, without, so to speak, a leg to stand on, would we even be able to recognize a table if we set our keys on one? Who, by the way, was the fascist who decreed that tables must carry lamps for all eternity? Was it Plato who is to blame when he concocted the Law of Ideal Forms? Who made slaves of the lamps themselves, forcing them to give light upon demand, and even when they can or will no longer shed a watt, still makes it impossible for them to escape their imprisonment, the cruel confinement of their detention in a definition that admits of no release, no rehabilitation, but declares them to be, even in the junkyard, the graveyard of things, forever more nothing more than “broken lamps”?

______________________ the broken lamp and table piled up.


ho, then, made it impossible for a fire hydrant to refuse, an electronic can opener to dissent, a forklift to defect across the border one fine September morning? In other words: why can’t a book refuse to be read?

Why must an umbrella always open in the rain? Why can’t a fuel pump decide it’s own fate, the function that suits it best? Is stereotyping only acceptable now for corkscrews and flanges and that wire thing that holds a clothespin together without which a clothespin wouldn’t exist at all?

Existence before essence—why is that only the prerogative of human beings? Why, only in the world of created things, does Sartre have no basis for argument? Why can’t a forceps be an existentialist? Why can’t each in a box of nails stand alone and declare its independence?

Isn’t it high time that there were an Emancipation Proclamation for things? How long must the adjustable wrench still wait for it’s Abraham Lincoln?

In their book “Anti-Oedipus,” Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari recount the story of a schizophrenic carpenter who builds a “table” by the process of a potentially unlimited accretion…planes, joints, surfaces, appendages are added, hammered and glue onto a perpetually original structure,

if haphazardly, only by virtue of our own preconceived notion of what is meant by “table.” Is the unimaginable table even a table anymore?

Is it possible to build a chair that you cannot sit on? In painting, we are all now familiar with jugs that can’t hold water, automobiles that could double for overcoats or hashish pipes, and buildings that are soft as scarlet bubblegum and dissolve into cloudlike hammers. Better still, are those paintings in which whatever referents, if there ever were any, are totally unrecognizable. You cannot correctly call any such painting non-represtentational because what are you looking at then? What, after all, can marks on a canvas be other than a representation?

It is, more accurately, not non-representational, but “non-recognizable.” For these aren’t pictures of things that don’t exist but of things freed of their existence—an existence in which their essence up to now has been predetermined by our own unyielding and totalitarian control.

Now if it were simply a matter of translating pictorial abstraction to the world of objects we might be satisfied with what has already been achieved in the application of such principles to the practice of what we call abstract sculpture. What I’m talking about, however, is more along the lines of an abstract expressionism applied to engineering, a “non-functional” engineering where not only function follows form, but the essence of the machine itself is discovered only after it already exists.

A non-Platonic, existential engineering where pre-determination holds no place, never mind first place. To tweak the old maxim by way of illustration, for a man confronting a raised nail, every solution becomes a hammer. Let us stop seeing problems everywhere we look. What I want is a mechanics beyond materialism, an enginnering unfettered by utilitarianism. Is necessity really the mother of invention? What if we invented not out of need, but out of pure desire? Invention for invention’s sake? The engineering of pure joy? Why not? Why must we only seek answers when there is a problem—when, in our desperation, almost any answer will do? How about a post-need engineering, one that creates out of a generosity of spirit, a satisfaction of soul?

If art can be useless, except that it provide us with tangible manifestations of the profound and the beautiful, why can’t machines serve the same function, or be returned to the same function, since tools were, in fact, the precursors, and for a time—several thousands of years apparently—even the sole object of art…and this when art was both technology and magic? Why not, then, an engineering of beauty? Why not tools, not of art, but that are art?

It is without a doubt among the most stupendous of tasks I set myself: that is, to proceed as if I woke up this morning to find the Great Bomb had fallen in the night while I slept and wiped out every achievement ever made by man, every book in which these achievements were recorded and blueprinted, and every man who might remember how they were achieved; it is hereafter up to me to try to recreate it all and I haven’t a clue as to where to even begin!

But the fact is this: I have never had the slightest doubt that if I should put my mind to it and using whatever odds and ends I could rustle up around the house and a few interesting items that might turn up at a typical neighborhood garage sale or two that I could build from scratch a rocket to the moon, provided, of course, that no one expected it to blast off, or go to the moon.

Somewhere or other, the German painter Gerhard Richter said that abstract art is an artist’s representation of a place like heaven or hell, no less, for instance, than the paintings of Hieronymous Bosh. In both cases, the artist “represents” places that don’t exist geographically, except, perhaps, as states of mind. Let us take up, then, the materials at hand; this world is a junk heap and everything in it is a building block with which we can create new objects for a new world to come. There are unlimited machines to discover for purposes we can not yet even conceive—machines small and large that seem to be utterly useless, non-operative, absurd (and what is a human body but the absurd engine par excellence…so far?), but that may some time in the unforseeable future prove to be of inestimable value to mankind. These machines cannot be invented unless we liberate ourselves from all existing notions of engineering, and where we have no such notions, or knowledge, so much the better, let us retain our childlike state of ignorance. But let our ignorance never stand in the way of our work. For knowledge may just as easily fence us in as set us free.

Let’s topple Plato from his plinth and to hell with the Parthenon. Let’s take a wrecking ball to the prison of Ideal Forms. Let’s glue what remains of last night’s candle to the dial of what might have once been a microwave oven found discarded in the gutter on 54th Street this morning. Let’s add an eyeglass lens and, perhaps, a small sealed vial of red ants. This is something, it must be, why it sits there in plain sight before us. Let us call it—for the time being—an Occivelopicator, why not? We are convinced it must be good for something; in fact, we feel it in our bones. Let’s watch it closely—perhaps it will reveal at last why we believed it should first exist.

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at the FreakB ox Blog