STRATA Geophilosophical notes on Sérgio Costa

Publication

Alexander Gerner
Strata Geophilosophical notes on Sérgio Costa
BoD: Norderstedt, 2016
ISBN 978-3-8370-7500-7

You may order your book to amazon.ukamazon.esamazon.fr or BoD


Sérgio Costa © 2016



Ground l MU.SA Lab Arte


Exposição individual l Solo show

Trabalhos sobre papel l Works on paper

MU.SA Lab Arte
Museu das Artes de Sintra
Av. Heliodoro Salgado
2710-575 Sintra

Inauguração: 19.09.2015 16.00h
19.09 - 18.11.2015
Terça a Sábado das 10.00h às 18h
Sábado e Domingo das 12.00 às 18h


Sérgio Costa © 2015


A superfície [ground_fond] tal como surge numa extensividade homogénea é em si uma projecção de algo ‘mais fundo’ [profond]: apenas este último pode ser chamado Ungrund ou sem fundo [groundless]. A lei de figura e fundo nunca se sustenta para objectos que se distinguem de um fundo neutro ou de um fundo de outros objectos a menos que o próprio objecto estabeleça uma relação com a sua própria profundidade. A relação entre figura e fundo é apenas uma relação plana extrínseca que pressupõe uma relação interna, volumosa entre superfícies e a profundidade que as envolve.

Deleuze, Gilles (1994). Difference and repetition. New York: Columbia University Press

No projecto “Ground” a dispersão de tinta através da técnica de “spray” sobre papel descobre a extensividade como um acidente inseparável da própria matéria da pintura. O excesso de tinta que se dispersou para além da área pintada revela uma continuidade simultânea entre os objectos, um evento que se desdobra através do próprio processo de construção; superfícies em extensão que embora posteriormente dissociadas, mantêm uma relação estrutural.

Subtrair a figura enquanto “fundo” do fundo introduz um espaço de passagem, um esvaziamento que cria ressonância. Tal como uma dobra é sempre dobrada no interior de uma dobra, esta exerce uma torção sobre a superfície, presume um interior e um exterior, superfície e fundo. A acção de dobrar_desdobrar manifesta de cada vez e simultaneamente um diferencial que caracteriza uma ocorrência em termos de contracção_dilatação, envolvimento_desenvolvimento, tensão_distensão.

O suporte de papel é o fundo (ground) que indicia o processo de preparação da pintura. Um espaço que se revela através de processos de interferência, acções conjuntas, circuitos, ocorrências, níveis e limiares, passagens e distribuições de intensidades. Embora a superfície da pintura na sua integridade, seja fundamentalmente restritiva - espaço das hesitações, incapacidades, da insolência dos materiais; a sua supressão dá lugar a uma outra hegemonia, uma descontinuidade numa série de interdependências, camada após camada, que o processo artístico encobre e descobre.

Sérgio Costa
Set 2015

Sampling strata I Galeria Bangbang


Solo show

Galeria BangbangLisboa
22.05 - 25.07.2015



© Galeria Bangbang




Notes on >fucking hazziness<. Sérgio Costa’s  “Strata- Sampling Puzzles” (2015) [1]
Alexander Gerner[2]
I Working-Images as Observational Program Sérgio Costa is not observing any kind of biological microcosm by a microscope, nor does he take up the telescope and observes nebulae -Nebula for Latin >cloud<:  a name used for any nebulous, that is, diffuse astronomical object. Nevertheless, nebula and gullies can be found in Sergio Costa’s recent painting works, in which materials (hand-molded clay-things, different types of painted textiles, cracks of painting layers) are confronted in an observational program[3] called >Strata< in which a variety of oil paintings, and material try-outs are presented in a systematic way. In the Sampling Puzzles exhibit, strata show an intimate conceptual relation to “working images”[4] (Nasim 2010) as experimental praxis. In the case of Costa’s strata, the molds, gullies on the different canvas materials are conducted as experiments of >working images< in the artist lab between science and art. These working images interact with scientific instruments of observation, but as well with descriptions/depictions of other images (in the case of Costa with images of explosions/ volcanic eruptions; Strata#23-#27), maps, oil paintings, etchings, drawings and sampled paint/media experiments (Gullies), molds and crack-samplers.
II Experiments in matter behavior Strata Sampling Puzzles –e.g. gullies- appear as  experimentation in matter behavior and deal with >entrainments< on different media. In physical geography >entrainment< is a process in which surface sediments are incorporated into a fluid flow (air, water, ice). Geological Entrainment is inherent in the operation of erosion. In Costa´s >gullies< the diluted oil paint is poured on different textile supports (“veludo”=velvet andcetim”=satin) taking advantage of their different textures, while minimizing subsequent interventions. The ink proceeds similarly to formation of water in the ground or dust, particles and gases in the formation of nebulae. Subsequently the fabric is mounted on wooden grids of small formats.

III Vapor of the events  Costa in his long term strata series is interested in showing the differences, strategies and time lags, of an >Aesthetics of appearing<[5](Martin Seel 2005) in experience: First, the >neptunic< longtime development is difficult to be experienced escaping human experiential limitations, and the meditation of which is thematic in earlier paintings (Strata #2-22) on rock stratification. Costa’s strata series (2014/2015) develops another mode of experience though: the intimacy of the small and medium scale gullies experiments and the meditation on volcanic explosive cloud strata (Strata #23-27). In these explosive events we become reminded on our temporal and rhythmical absolute experiential thresholds such as the 30ms of temporal order threshold of experience, in which events appear to be happening in distinguishable temporal orders and not simultaneous, or the fusion threshold of 2-3ms in which events are distinguished as two and not as one event, need the retardandis of painting as a form of observing the too fast phenomena, the too nebulous, the explosive, that escapes our experience otherwise. Costa in this Strata-Sampling Puzzles exhibition searches for “key events[6](Waldenfels 2007, 42) a) attentional >scenic events< and >dramatic events< (Waldenfels 2007, 42) the eruptive “vulcanic” fast events in contrast to b) geophilosophic longtime-events, the “neptunic” (slow and steadily evolving) experience: What if we would live more than 500 years?  Maybe then even the neptunic experience of earth’s kinetics of strata that Sérgio Costa Strata series hinges on would become part of our daily experience. This vulcanic experience that Costa pain(t)s seems to have a matrix, a black hole from which all emerges or is sucked into.

IV Explosive geo-sampling What matters in vapor-becomings- “this isn´t yet a duskscape” is that Vapors hints towards transformations of matter, not just in their strata of aggregation, but of bodily form in general.  With Jean-Luc Nancy[7] we can say: „If we wish to keep the word matter, then we should say that it´s the impenetrability of what is form – in other words, relation, sensing oneself, being sensed, and sensing something as if from the outside“.  We experience strata even in its vaporous blurred form as if from the outside, we are never located inside strata, the knowledge strata, the sensing strata, the social strata being sensed, the material strata: we are already puzzled by a multiplicity of layers and relations, but always from the outside, by their uncertainty in hazziness without the one clear strata appearing for us in experience: >this isn´t yet a duskscape<. The vulcano explosions contrasting the slow artistic process of Costas delicate oil paintings, remind us on the foggy atmospheres created by the 19th century painter J.M.W. Turner- a mix of a Victorian steamboat in which steam immerses the painting in mist, sea-motion and a lightscape from the harbour („Snow storm. Of a Habours mouth“ 1842)- but, in Costa’s Strata #23-#27 (2014/2015) we are deprived of anthropocentric reference of ports and boats, nor do they refer to anthropcenical responsability in global domicides[8]; on the contrary, >Strata< confront us by natural hazzards and evaporating life: blurred thoughts on >fucking hazziness<! Vulcano Explosions… Just yesterday on the 23rd of April 2015 while writing this text -two days before the Nepal earthquake in which thousands are killed-, the >Calbuco< Vulcano eruption in Chile interrupts me, thinking as far as a 20 km radar of evacuation: breaks, cracks and ruptures, the fragility of our existence, its necessity for our experience.... Sérgio Costa’s >Strata< ask us two questions: Are we prepared for >vulcanic< events? How are we able to experience long-time change?



[1] Excerpt from the book: Gerner, A. (upcoming). Strata. Geophilosophical notes on Sérgio Costa
[2] Alexander Gerner is a researcher at the CFCUL (University of Lisbon). His research is supported by a FCT Post-doc grant: SFRH/BPD/90360/2012
[3] Nasim, O. (2014). Observing by Hand. Sketching the Nebulae in the Ninteenth Century. Chicago: Chicago University Press
[4] Nasim, O. (2010). “Observation, Working images and procedure: The ´Great Spiral in Lord Rosse´s astronomical record books and beyond,” BJHS 43 (3), 353-389
[5] Seel, M. (2005). Aesthetics of Appearing. Stanford: Stanford University Press
[6] Waldenfels, B. (2007).”The Power of Events”. In: Bernhard Waldenfels. The Question of the Other. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 37-51
[7] Nancy, J.-L. (2008). „On the Soul“. In:  Jean-Luc Nancy. Corpus. Translated by Richard A. Rand. New York: Fordham University Press, 127
[8] Porteous, D.J. & Smith, S.E. (2001). Domicide. The Global Destruction of Home. Montreal: Mc Gill Queens University Press


Galeria Bangbang

Alevander Gerner


Sérgio Costa



Strata l Galeria Carlos Carvalho

Solo show

Galeria Carlos Carvalho, Lisboa
15.05 to 14.06.2014



Exhibition view, © Galeria Carlos Carvalho



Thinking the non-stratified with Sergio Costa’s >Strata<


By following a Minerva’s flight of wonder in Costa’s experimental >strata< series, we follow a form of artistic experimentation on strata as archive of captured nature in which we are invited to deviate from geological principles such as >original horizontality< in which sedimentary rock strata are supposed to form in horizontal positions. >Strata< question horizontally layered archives of reality. In Sérgio Costa’s series Strata we are given a new diagramming strategy of art not only by the means of painting but as well by changes of dimension in strata experiments from 2012 onwards introducing a fragmentary map principle in Strata #15 and an anaglyphic principle in Strata #19, #20, #21 as shown first in the Geological Museum of Lisbon (5th of April to 3rd of May 2014) and now in his exhibition – linked to the shortlist of the Arte Laguna prize [Venice 2014] in May-June 2014 at the gallery Carlos Carvalho. Arte Contemporânea in Lisbon (14.5-4.6.2014), Portugal.

*

Strata come at least in a pair, in a double bound or in multiple layers. One stratum therefore serves the others as a “substratum”(Deleuze/ Guattari, A thousand Plateaus) -and one might add- as double pinchers of a lobster (Deleuze/ Guattari’s image of strata) or as earthly rock layers, or atmospheric strata as well the stratified peel of an onion. Strata-layers can be rigid or twisted, elastic or tense; in any case strata move, can be moved and are not timeless, but on the contrary, even that we as humans might observe them as relatively stabile, strata are already part of a time lag and a local shift, as are strata of experiences, or as we call them here: attentional strata that Sergio Costa develops.

Strata appear not necessarily as rock layers and stratification does not equal horizontal petrifaction, but >strata< can - as in the image sujet of Sérgio Costa’s paintings- show up as layers of rock- not only densified by pressure, and broken up- refolded or transformed into maps, smoke, clay and even exhumed dust of decaying proto-objects.

*

Strata appear as layers of two images on the two sides of an interstice line. The interstice line often orients us in Sergio Costa’s Strata paintings, and as such lets us discover his work as maps of unknown or anonymous materials in the observation of which we gain a certain complicity and that we in a first necessary “disillusive moment” identify with rock. However, Costa’s work is a meditations on the virtualization of our (visible) and touchable supposedly stable and firm reality. It is therefore not merely a matter of deciding, whether the Strata-maps are indexical or related with a material object (the territory of the painting) or whether it is the “territory itself”, index sui, pointing at itself. The getting visible of strata grids becomes a technique and strategy of orientation in Strata #15, #17, #18 a series of three Strata oil paintings that come close to the former principle of Costa’s work on “Sampling puzzles” in order to create maps to orient in an ungrounded world.
*

In its majority the oil on canvas/linen >Strata< paintings are composed of at least two strata or layers that we perceptually unify habitually at first sight- the exception hereby are >Strata< #5 and anaglyphic Strata #19, #20, #21 that seem to convey a unity of the image, however one has to remember that the >Strata [#1]< is missing and as such a first strata or grounding of reality in Sergio Costa confronts us with the anti-foundationalist multiplicity of >strata< and his artistic strategy of destratification. Therefore the line in between the two layers of the image are sometimes more (#2, #6, #8-11, #13-14, #16) sometimes less (#3, #4, #7, #12) visible interstice lines between two parts depicting stratified calcium formations on the oil painting, leading us to a geo-philosophical reflection on strata in the tradition of Nietzsche, Foucault, Deleuze or recently Negarestani.
*
Strata#15 de-stratify not only the rest of the painting series before and after number 15. This means: >Strata #15< shows other strata not only as rests of maps, but Strata#15 also shifts our attention towards the fact that strata in the sense of Sérgio Costa are foremost maps, and as such would be better studied - not in the science of geography or geology- but “in painting” -as Deleuze famously claimed in his small and precious text “What Children say”. Strata #15 is an excellent way to study painting as map-making- a temporarily orienting strategy in time, space and affective intensity- and all of it still in the making.
The closer one gets to Costa’s >Strata< the more the process view of painting as map-creation becomes visible, the more far the observer distances herself from the >Strata<, the more virtual the surface of Costa’s art in general becomes. >Strata 15< is also the place where Costa’s >strata< are openly stratified formations and map at the same time, ruler and pencil, hand and thought, breath and rhythm., all on the surface. Thus >Strata< #15 invites us to go beyond the possibilities we always imagined things to be in their historical stratified forms and methods- and in relation to our lives. Sergio Cost’s >Strata< ask us:
How do we orient in between and above strata?
How do we orient ourselves in between and above what we always thought was stable, fixed, grounded, or based on scientific facts and principles?
                                                    *
There is another important new dimension in this series of >Strata< from 2013-2014 starting with underdetermined proto-amorphous things: The forming of mesh of clay and the drying of the wet mesh through which its porosity appears in Strata #20 and #21, exhibited in a showcase before we had entered the exhibition space at the Geological Museum. And even after transporting these frail underdetermined things into the realm of painting, in which we can see them as paradoxes (simultaneously a proto-brain slice or/and a slice of petrified toasted bread) our imagination while observing these >things< is unlimited in a trivial matching game of similarity. The concreteness of these sub-(jectival) objects brings us further due to its contextual embeddings and transport into the realm of a museum space, the geological museum, in the building of the Portuguese Academy of Sciences. Strata of Sergio Costa turn into a “real counterpart”, a virtual syncope of petrified objects, first conceptually exhibited in the Lisbon Museum of Geology in the building of the Portuguese Academy of Sciences, an artistic principle of ungrounding and virtualization of the material Museum space and its displayed objects, and the putting into question of scientific grounding or the “un-changeability” of scientific laws and orthodox orders.
*
In >Strata< #20 and #21 the porosity that is an openness of craters and valleys unlike its geological counterpart of sedimentation can be put into perspective as artistic strategy opposed to an geological sedimentation principle of stratification. Costa´s >Strata< exhume the fixity of our habitual perception of things and thus strata as rock layers start decomposing, while not even the most hard rock on which religions belief to be build, escapes this virtualizing principle of de-stratification or ungrounding. By the introduction of new anaglyphic works of strata, Sergio Costa can now be seen in 3D, without any need to go to a multiplex cinema- the cinematic anaglyphic mode in 2014 reached the geological museum, it catapults the observer to a nature 2.0. The more the observer seems to recover in this optical illusion the “original” 3D structure of the object in study, in a “regrounding” of reality, the more he tries to root them on a platonic plane, the more >strata< virtualize and ungrounds.
Lisbon, 17 of April 2014

from the upcoming book:
Alexander Gerner (2014). Strata. Sérgio Costa. Books on Demand: Norderstedt
Alexander Gerner is a German researcher in philosophy based in Lisbon. He is member of the CFCUL at the University of Lisbon with his project http://cognitiveenhancement.weebly.com/
His work is supported by a Post-Doc grant by the FCT foundation: SFRH/BPD/90360/2012


Strata l Geology Museum

Solo show

Museu Geológico, Lisboa

05.04 to 03.05.2014




Strata tridimensional molds, 2013 modeling paste variable dimensions, © Sérgio Costa




“Strata”: Ungrounding and Virtualisation in Sergio Costa´s ‘Wunderkammer’



“In Exhumation the distribution of surfaces is thoroughly undermined and the movements associated with them are derailed; the edge no longer belongs to the periphery; anterior surfaces come after all other surfaces, layers of strata are displaced and perforated, peripheries and the last protecting surfaces become the very conductors of invasion. Exhumation is defined as a collapse and trauma introduced to the solid part by vermiculate activities; it is the body of solidity replaced by the full body of trauma. As in disinterment — scarring the hot and cold surfaces of a grave — exhumation proliferates surfaces through each other. Exhumation transmutes architectures into excessive scarring processes, fibroses of tissues, membranes and surfaces of the solid body.”

Negarestani, R. (2008). Cyclonopedia. complicity with anonymous materials. Melbourne: re.press

By following a Minerva´s flight of wonder in Costa’s experimental strata series, we follow a form of artistic experimentation given in a new diagramming strategy not only by the means of painting but as well by changes of dimension in new strata experiments as introduced by the anaglyphic principle in this new strata Series of Costa.

There is, however, a way more important new dimension in this series of strata from 2013-2014 starting with underdetermined proto-amorphous things: The forming of mesh of clay and the drying of the wet mesh through which its porosity appears in Strata #20 and #21, exhibited in a showcase before we enter the exhibition space. And even after transporting these frail underdetermined things into the realm of painting, in which we can see them as paradoxes (simultaneously a proto-brain slice or/and a slice of petrified toasted bread) our imagination while observing these things is unlimited in a trivial matching game of similiarity. The concreteness of these sub(jectival) objects brings us further due to its contextual embeddings and transport into the realm of a museum space, the geological museum, in the building of the Portuguese Academy of Sciences. Strata of Sergio Costa turn into a “real counterpart”, a virtual syncope of the petrified objects exhibited in the museum, an artistic principle of ungrounding and virtualization of the museological material space and its displayed objects.

In Strata #20 and #21 the porosity that is an openness of craters and valleys unlike its geological counterpart of sedimentation can be put into perspective as artistic strategy opposed to an geological sedimentation principle of stratification. The most easily observable change in this new experimental strata series of Costa in 2014 is the introduction of another perceptual dimension, the anaglyphic two color outlines that create a 3D effect of a 2D painting, a diagram based on the interplay of two colors added to the actual painting, virtualizing the stratification.

#Ungrounding Strata#
Costa´s Strata exhume the fixity of our habitual perception of things and thus strata as rock layers start decomposing, while not even the most hard rock on which religions belief to be build, escapes this virtualizing principle of de-stratification or ungrounding. By the introduction of new anaglypyic works of strata, Sergio Costa can now be seen in 3D, without any need to go to a multiplex cinema- the cinematic anaglyphic mode in 2014 reached the geological museum, it catapults the observer to a nature 2.0. The more the observer seems to recover in this optical illusion the “original” 3D structure of the object in study, in a “regrounding” of reality, the more he tries to root them on a platonic plane the more strata virtualize and ungrounds.

 „If geology, or the ‘mining process,’opens onto an ungroundedness at the core of any object, this is precisely because there is no ‘primal layer of the world’, no ‘ultimate substrate’ or substance on which everything ultimately rests. The lines of serial dependency, stratum upon stratum, that geology uncovers do not rest on anything at all, but are the records of actions antecedent in the production of consequents “Iain Hamilton Grant (2010) “Mining Conditions”. In: The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism, eds. Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek and Graham Harman (Melbourne: re.press, 2010), 41–46 here: 44

#Strata Wunderkammer#
The exhibition of Sérgio Costa transposes the Geological Museum intirely on the plane of his Strata. While presenting a transition of the scientific plane of geologic objects shows an artistic strategy of virtualization of a discrete and historical-material structured geological collection- that in itself still preserved by the influence of a Baroque intention of the Wunderkammer. Costa´s exhibition transports the entire museum onto the plane of his strata. Thus by showing a transition of the scientific plane of actuality of geological objects in a space-fold of the Museum space officially dedicated to art, Costa allows us to grasp the strategy of virtualization of stratification by the artistic diagrammatic machine of his paintings. This principle of virtualization becomes actualized by a showcase that displays Costa’s Strata three-dimensional Strata studies made of a demiurgic claylike material always already in decay, in rupture: material strata syncope. The interest of these strange object is exactly located in their fragility, their porosity exhuming strata in decay, a poromechanics of strata: A place where “[t]he cosmogenesis of decay unfolds within solidity, [and] spreads from interior to outer surfaces.” Negarestani, Cyclonopedia, 181–182

Alexander Gerner