|A review of (LSA40)
First and foremost, Blinks 1997 is explicitly a homage to, a re-reading of, Vito Acconci's Blinks 1969. More than that it is a homage to a specific way of understanding the artistic work, and really an acknowledgement of the possibilities that the intentionally amateur use of any new technology for capturing, registering, manipulating and disseminating images offers for a critical redefining of the meaning of the artistic.
If we bear this in mind, then certain secondary allusions lose their importance such as Blinks' reference to the term html as having a precise letter style in the design world, which in the title is used as a self-referential gesture; or the allusion to the prematurely deceased Blinky (Palermo, of course) with his even more recondite split-second blink.
Consequently, they are of little importance compared with the programme of using a technology - and the previous using of another, almost 30 years ago through which the primordial nature of conscious activity that ought to singularize and differentiate artistic work is underlined. Added to this, the fact that it relates to a specific potential for approaching the domain of the event, as opposed to the limitations that a specific formalization of representational order imposes on the possibility of experiencing it, means that the revolutionary value of the piece (which really reconstructs that which Acconci's work already had, and right in the same place) resides precisely in this operation, with its double status of gnosis, both ontological and experiential. Put another way: its political value is that it points to the potential for producing representation in another way. That is precisely the task of art - it is the compromising position that this piece adopts.
We would like to highlight just one aspect that we believe to be crucial. In Acconci's original Blinks, this capturing of the event was specifically linked to a situation of the sequential passage of now-time, of a process of development, of the 'real' progress of a subject on a street. The effort not to blink was supposed to make one aware of this development, and the unintentional (unwilling, even) capturing of images coincided with the moments of weakness of the mental effort. 'Real' time, so to speak, was written in the capturing of images by the combination of two stipulated machines (the walking machine and the machine for obtaining images) in which the subject did not intervene (an 'unconscious lens' was working, a non-subject functioning as a mechanical device for experimental production and registering of the experience).
For us, the problem with this piece had always been in its presentation, in its exhibition before the spectator, since the spatial arrangement of the 12 photographs sharing a single spatial-temporal plane took away the whole sequentiality with which the images had been captured. Without the logical reading order that 'obliged' one to read them in the 'right' order, the fact is that the development of the event (which, precisely, was what the piece best 'said') remained as such lost in the order of representation. The arrest of a now-time in permanent displacement - that was just what the exhibition's spatial arrangement of the 12 photographs lost sight of, hindering the spectator therefore from grasping the whole dimension of the metaphysical-political nature of the piece.
In some ways, that is what the modified reconstruction that our piece entails is trying to restore. Here, the form of exhibition, of presentation of the piece in the public arena, recovers the sequentiality - exploiting the exhibition possibilities now offered by a new technology that is likewise used under the same political assumptions of an intended amateurism - and if the spectator is exacting and carries out the instructions contained within the piece, (s)he will be exposed to experimenting a struggle with both conscience and will that may offer similar possibilities to those which faced the executor of the walk in the original piece (such that it will again be a kind of restored unconscious lens which determines the time and space of its virtual passage, and which operates in the very act of reception).
Added to this is a feature which immediately caught our attention on first seeing the piece: the potential for constructing it as a hypothetically exact reversal of the time of capture. Let's imagine a spectator whose willpower not to blink and whose physiological conditions fully coincide with those of the Acconcian passer-by: his stroll through the 12 images (disregarding the time taken for each image to go down) would have been carried out in an exactly equal 'real time', but inverted. The time of exposure, of reception, would have coincided in the negative, nearly thirty years on, with the original journey of a photographer passer-by. We can aiso imagine that if they walk at the same pace and shoot at the same time, they have covered the same metres in space. The space that is journeyed has a very different appearance - in one case it is a street, in the other they are virtual 'units of navigation'. But let's not be fooled: neither one nor the other territory is wholly real or imaginary. Instead it is the composition of both registers that inevitably penetrates all that of which we can have experience.
Maybe this is what the piece is trying to make us see. But maybe it is something else, quite different, that each one succeeds in seeing in it. That peculiar content, fortuitous and indeterminate, is as valid or more than our own reading can propose. If the piece is precisely of genuine interest beyond that which this presentation has been able to summarise, then this is it.
Let's hope that it is, for each spectator who travels through it. This piece is a street, and like life, it is passed through in the blink of an eye - in ictu oculi (which, in reality, is secretly the true title of the piece). Probably.
La Société Anonyme