In one of his first letters to Goethe written to evince his appreciation, Friedrich Schiller writes :
‘ At first view it seems as if there couldn’t be two greater opposites than the Speculative spirit, which deals with oneness, and the Intuitive, which deals with manifoldness.’
He then goes on to observe that in Goethe’s writing the Speculative and the Intuitive seek through their own impulse towards the object of the other, they join forces to produce individuals which have the character of the species, and species containing the possibility of individual life.
Goethe a one man crowd who, in the process of consulting with his various selves finds singular purpose. And Goethe of reasoning logic torn apart by the dissolution of manifold individuals. The process is a familiar one through experience we build a crowd over time, based on inklings of commonality and difference mapped across real faces, bodies and minds. It shores us in the social sea and painfully dissolves isolating tendencies.
Towards the end of a medium term residency in a small hotel, my awareness of individuals has overwhelmed general speculation, which is at odds with the awareness displayed by the hotel staff who after three weeks still ask questions as if for the first time. But perhaps that is a principle within the hospitality trade, training in perpetual freshness. The crowd flowing through a hotel must be distilled in someway so that You who just arrived are both an aspect of the crowd, vouchsafing Your anonymity, as well as an individual in need of particular care. The crowd this hotel is used to dealing with is a temporal accumulation added up in laundry routines and booking requests.
The artist Markus Hansen (Riff Projects, Istanbul) is witness to the accumulation of people around him. Within his circles he circles individuals. In his photographs, Other People’s Feelings he studies himself at a mirror with a photograph he’s taken of a next door neighbour or associate, then photographs his own mimicry and compares. Arts and hospitality meet in this rehearsal and the reflexes of one person to another become a mimetic masking.
I can’t easily share in Hansen’s circularity, another human being is initially a somewhat monstrous thing emerging but not entirely separable from the tree, wall, footpath, table or chair that situates it. Only in its animation as it peels from one surrounding surface to another am I put in mind of another person, another mind signing into its human environment. Hansen’s poses represent a kind of peeling of expression from one face to another, faces and bodies in an endless hall of mirrors.
There are two kinds of visual memory developed when in a crowd. That produced by the skillful, studied recreation of the features of a face and figure as if from a compendium of human body traits. And the instant evocation in the closed eyelid, a flash that is indelible, of another person, perhaps the creation part way between the actual person and an internal recognition that might be called desire of some kind.
An inscribed granite obelisk marks the turn of an ancient racecourse in Istanbul’s Byzantine Hippodrome. Originally 39 metres in height it was brought by boat from Egypt 1700 years ago, how it got here is illustrated in a series of practical narrative scenes carved and heavily weathered in relief on each face of the supporting marble plinth.
Workmanlike reliefs below instantaneous hieroglyphs. The manifold is held below the unifying speculative form. The narrative recreation below the eidetic image. The binaries of the past mostly favoured unity over multiplicity, Schiller wisely posits them as reciprocal polarities in the comprehension of a modern world.