Armando Alves, Porto, Inova
What is an orange? Suppose I have to make someone understand what an orange is; and, imperatively, what an orange is to me. Obviously, I can do two kinds of things, which are different but happen to be complementary and reciprocal. I can offer this someone the experience of the orange.
I can explain to them what the orange is.
The terms of that experience, however, can be different and their limits varied: did I buy the orange or pick it in an orchard? Did I or did I not demonstrate how to peel it? There is an infinite number of things that an orange can be, in terms of experience. On the other hand, what would I have said to explain what the orange is, limited, of course, by what I know myself? That it is the fruit of a certain species of tree; from such and such a botanical family. That it contains vitamin C, that it is picked at a particular time of the year, in specific regions. Its economic or cultural importance... Essentially, the truth is that with these two processes I would not have been able to relate or offer the experience of everything that an orange is to me. Orange tea, orange blossom, the oranges in a certain painting by Manet, and the white-painted oranges in Antonioni’s latest film, these, for me, are also the orange. We can say however, in an initial approach to this question, that a lengthy common experience and an intricate network of mutual knowledge related to that object would lead me or anyone else to that which Sartre evocatively called an empirical plenitude, and to a possibility of common action, a common rhythm. At a certain point I could say: we know what an orange is. Which is not to say, of course, that the same object cannot be approached as a determining factor of our different individualities, my own and that of the other person. Let us say that to a certain extent, the orange, our knowledge of it, its use and its economy are part of our intimacy.
As a first reference to the main theme of this brief meditation, we could say, in terms of the graphic arts, that these constitute – as we will see – a significant vehicle (through the objects of our experience and knowledge) for the promotion of my intimacy with others. We will also show that one of their particular raisons d’être is that they are the synthesis, or the place of synthesis (visual and literary) of an explanation about the objects of our knowledge and of something that suggests one’s experience of these objects.
But knowledge also implies practical action, a capacity to act, which, more than just simple experience, completes and forms our comprehension of the real. Formed in the sense of a common perception, the graphic arts also result in a stimulus or guide for practical action. We intentionally do not refer to that by which graphic arts are most commonly known, and which, after all, is not a necessary or sufficient term for the corresponding definition: their repetitive nature. Generally, but not necessarily, graphic artwork is expected to be reproduced in a variable number of copies, approximately or strictly equal (manual or mechanical reproduction processes). In this chapter, however, we must underline that the graphic arts, due to their richer natural inclination, do not belong to the number of arts where the executor is not the creator (such as music, for example). However mechanical or technical the reproduction process (general printing, photogravure, heliogravure, offset, silkscreen, etc.), the creator of a work of graphic art should intervene, control, direct an entire army of technicians and operations, always leaving margin for final interpretation and creation. Naturally, this creator, who creates his own aesthetic object, is often the interpreter of other people’s creation (for example, the graphic artist who proposes to make-into-a-book the oeuvre of a literary author). In these cases, their function is similar and raises the same issues as those of a theatre director, who is an intermediate creator, an interpreter, as well as an original creator. We shall not discuss these problems here, despite them being of primary importance, particularly in terms of the necessary (though critical) fidelity to the work that has been previously created, and which is at the same time the end and the medium. But we must still clarify what we understand as the fundamental definition of graphic arts. Suppose I create a picture of the bank drafts discounted (in millions of accounts) in Portuguese banks between 1855 and 1865. The difference between this picture and the graphic I will subsequently create, in which the growth of that operation as part of our economic history is represented by a continuous line in a system of Cartesian coordinates, is that in this last case, resorting to an elementary graphic process, I seek to give someone else what we shall call a perceptive understanding of the fact, of the thing in question. Now this graphic can only exist aesthetically; it has to be designed, and only then will it form the image that is aimed for, not just to explain but to suggest a certain thing. Once this design is accomplished, with more or less aesthetic quality, a work of graphic art will have been created (regardless of its repetition). However, if the work is destined to be repeated, it happens that the creator uses – or anticipates the use – of graphic materials and processes (in the common sense of the term typographic, silkscreen, lithographic, etc.) until the final realization of the standard copy, for which he is, and should be, entirely responsible.
Let us return to the example of the orange. Excluding, for obvious reasons, direct experience (which we presume is more or less achieved), the work of graphic art allows me to come to an understanding (and therefore apprehending) of what-an-orange-is via routes that are not exclusively conceptual; it allows me not just to understand but also to imagine the orange. With graphic arts, a specific working scheme of ideas is embodied by means of corresponding images, even when these are reduced, eventually, to a visualization of what can be expressed by the word (book art, for example). This last aspect shows us the importance of the study of letters, and writing systems in general, for the understanding of graphic arts. Indeed, a book, or any written page, regardless of whether it is a stimulus for reading, plays with words and conventions whose aesthetic importance only escapes us by virtue of a chain of automatisms that make reading an apparently neutral phenomenon. But reading is participating in a show, like going to the theatre or attending a sporting event: reading is an aesthetic experience. Concrete poetry, as well as its precursors (the calligraphic poems of Mallarmé, Apollinaire, Desnos, etc.), even if it had no other merit, offered the opportunity to systematically call to our attention the aesthetic nature of reading. A written page, despite the abstractions of the writing, is also and always an image – and the designation illumination reserved for the precious manuscripts of the Middle Ages is very significant: illuminating is painting, creating images of language.
THE IMAGE AND MOTIVATIONS
Let us take some time to analyze this word, image. An object – an orange – has for me certain qualities and characteristics. These qualities and characteristics fill a space and demand a time: the image is its sensitive representation; it is an appeal to that which we know of the object, it is the presence of the absent. In effect, these qualities and characteristics (genuinely absent) are found by suggestion, they are present in the image. But there is more. The artistic image – which is what we are fundamentally dealing with – beyond its representative (or evocative) function, has its own personality, an absolute originality. The image reflects all we know about the thing that is represented, but it takes on the acute dynamism of its presence, and this presence brings it an entire past and a projection of future. The artistic image is then characterized by its immediacy and, simultaneously and contradictorily, is defined. It is in this sense that we refer to its motivations, which can be defined as concept and experience. It is precisely the analysis of these motivations that will take us to a territory opposing that of Sartre, whose study of the “understanding of the other” will lead, as has already been observed (Merleau-Ponty), to a “collective solipsism”. While we cannot carry out this analysis here, we do not want to fail to mention two concepts of modern philosophy and psychology, which have been shown to be extremely fertile for the comprehension of the graphic image and its specificity in the promotion of that which we call intimacy with others. All these concepts are based on Wallon’s studies on child psychology. According to these studies, it has been proven that there is a transitivism in children, which – for example – leads to ambiguous identification with their image in the mirror.
To the child, she is herself simultaneously in the mirror and in her own body. This transitivity, which does not disappear in adulthood and which subsists underlying the discovery of individuality (discovery of the self, the experience of Cogito), is the basis of the discovery that we have within us a being other than ourselves: essentially, that there is an original social being. This conclusion opposes all traditional analysis, from Rousseau (e.g. Contrat Social) to Sartre (L’Être et le neant). “The child’s first word ― phrases confront behaviours and actions which belong as much to others as to themselves”. This transitivism is preserved in adulthood, at least in the ambiguous order of feelings: “someone else and I were and maintain ourselves in a unique network of behaviors and a common flow of purposes.” This observation does not deny Sartre’s empirical plenitude; it appeals, however, to something deeper and more originally and immediately social. Let us risk – just as a hypothesis for future work – an explanation for the above-mentioned nature of originality and immediacy of all images, and in particular of the artistic image. If we accept, like the phenomenologist, that “to each new image, a new world” (Bachelard), which, furthermore, does not contradict one of the basic affirmations of humanism (“man makes himself”), it seems obvious that the foundation of that originality is the social realm, understood the way we made it. Using the notion of transitivity, we will understand in a new light (getting rid of all magical or transcendental character) Bachelard’s analyses on the poetic image. “The poet does not communicate the past of his image to me, but it immediately takes root in me”. This does indeed happen, but its basis is the original social realm. Scarcely a basis, however, because there will always be some thing absolutely new being created: project and proposition. This transformative capacity of the new image will correspond in art, particularly graphic art, to its most intimate, richest inclination, its most noble realization. It does not happen often, it happens only when the image is or participates in an act of appropriation of circumstances, and announces a transformation of its respective history. When the new image achieves this nobility we are faced with the fact, confirmed in one of the Theses on Feuerbach, “it is men who changes the circumstances”. But this proposition of the future is not arbitrary: it is also a motivation, in precisely the way in which it arises as the result of the projects of men comprehended within a certain situation.
Within the requirements of this short essay we will systemize these data, proposing the structure of a future analysis of the motivations of the graphic image – understood in the more general context of the motivations of all artistic images:
a) All artistic images fix more or less on the objective transitivity between me and another; they are based on the social being we are in essence. In this sense, in the origin of the graphic arts we will find the word-phrases of children (Wallon); the sign-things of pictography (Marcel Cohen); and the reciprocal participation of the “subject” with the “object” of the primitive man (Lévy-Bruhl).
b) Another order of basic motivations stems from empirical plenitude, through which individual subjectivity is formed, altered and reformed, in a unique and intersubjective world. This plenitude is the result of an interlinking of conceptual schemes, of experiences and diverse language systems. The graphic arts are particularly interested in considering systems of visualizing what can be expressed by words, on the one hand; and on the other, an entire indirect language manifested by means of visual expression. (In this sense, cathedrals – “bibles of the poor” –, like the sign-words of pictographs, are similar to the graphic arts.)
c) In the best of hypotheses (as we seem to have here the basis of a speculative aesthetic, a requirement for value; remember, for example, the reference to Hegel’s “infinite beauty”), the artistic image can be a creator of humanity, make a new world. This appetite for the future can also enter into the motivations of the artistic image. In this chapter, too, we will indicate an ambiguity that particularly affects the graphic image: it is its innovative character, not dispensing with the individual creative impulse, that frequently has a highly collective effectiveness. Graphic renewal is, as a general rule, a collective movement (precisely... like cathedrals).
d) Usually, the graphic image occurs according to a repetitive material mode. The repetition of the same image in many copies can constitute, beyond technical contingencies, profound motivation (aesthetic, anthropological, etc.).
WORDS AND GRAPHIC LANGUAGE
The first manifestations of writing are characterized by their syncretic nature, and offer, in embryonic form, all the decisions of that which we understand, in modern times, by graphic art. From there, we can study the genesis of this means of communication between the individuals of one same society; from the outset, a promoter of intimacy. Pictography (from the Latin “to paint” and the Greek “to draw”) is the first manifestation of proto-writing: it consists, in general, of a presentation of parts of speech, without breaking these down into words. These stories-without-words, image-situations or sign-things do not therefore link to any specific language. Occurring in highly particular societies, they are inclined towards the universalist and syncretic: more than an active operation of meaning, these sign-things are fragments of the real world and appear transitively between the thinking subject and the thing being thought of. The form is a modulation of the world, familiar with its world and – simultaneously and ambiguously – significant. Uncommitted to any particular language, pictography is a manifestation of the productivity of language, even in its origin. This origin definitively reveals the natural inclination of all languages: universalism and synthesis. Generally, proto-writing is made up of authentic ideograms and its function is mnemonic. The graphic arts share this tendency. But the conquest of an authentic universalism would have to include, dialectically speaking, the rejection of universalism. The myth of the Tower of Babel, and the vague comprehension that the word – which should serve to unite and make mankind more intimate – turned against them; that the division of humanity in populations distinguished by different forms of language corresponds to an authentic decline, a necessary step back in the comprehension of humanity by humanity. Sign-words, writings in figurative words, occurred with the establishment of the first cities; the appearance of sign-sounds (letters) follows naturally. Alongside this evolution, all systems aimed at offering a view of what can be expressed in words arise definitively in relation to different specific languages and are analytical elaborations, demanding a profound capacity for abstraction in relation to original motivations. Despite this, when two people who speak different languages meet, they speak using signs, re-discovering with more or less spontaneity the sign-things of proto-writing.
But the remains of a modulation of the original world are to be found, as if grasping onto simple letters, however abstract its average function. This is what the poets never stopped understanding or feeling. The famous synesthesia proposed by Rimbaud is not merely entertainment, it corresponds, on the contrary, to a deep inquietude:
“(...) voyelles / Je dirai quelque jour vos naissances latentes (...)”.
And Alexandre O’Neill’s enjoyment when meditating graphically with orthographic signs, is more than mere enjoyment:
“Will you be able / to answer everything I ask? (...)”.
It is at least the feeling of a necessary dialogue with the signs of our abstract understanding. It is the feeling of a lost and wished-for unity, through the forest of dry abstractions of a knowledge fragmented to the point of nausea. “L‘homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles / qui l‘observent avec des regards familiers.” writes Baudelaire, referring next to a “(...) unité / Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté (...)”.
In the various sectors of development of modern societies, there are symptomatic manifestations of a return to the lost unity. The end of divisions (division of labour, manual and intellectual, division into social classes; the opposition of city and country; racial segregation, etc.) appears in isolation or organically in a society that achieves most through specialization. This rejection of rejection would pass, therefore, from the poetic aura or from a moral or ideological militancy to the internal, functional need. In the future, solidarity would be a technique, and would correspond to an automatism made of love. Love itself would lose the alien ating character of exclusivism, with which we are familiar, and would transform increasingly into that which Merleau-Ponty recognises in its earliest form: creating an expression of the original indivision with another. Meanwhile, it is in the evolution of contemporary and modern art and in certain market or commercial techniques that we can best, without deviating from our subject, appreciate this potential evolution. Before speaking of advertising, of the studies of motivations as a sales technique, the role of the mass media, etc. – whose comprehension is fundamental for learning the current importance of the graphic arts – let us make brief reference to the meaning of modern art and its corresponding aesthetic comprehension.
THE MEANING OF MODERN ART
It is not easy to attempt a general appreciation of modern art. Firstly because it is multiple. Ignorance of this aspect does not reduce to an erroneous appreciation of the circumstances in which the historic process of the art of our time occurs: by denying its multiplicity, certain criticisms rob modern art of what seems to us to be one of its richest potentials – freedom. Now, freedom cannot mean the imposition of certain restrictions disguised as rules of false deontology: horror of the anecdote or illustration in general, of the figurative (inversely, of the non- figurative too), of chiaroscuro or perspective, etc., these are absurd limitations that a rich comprehension of modernity does not justify. Horror is medieval. Substituting a “horror of the vacuum” for horror of the representation of the natural form signifies no advance at all in the progressive scale of the need for freedom. This has given place to a comedy of criticism that has unfortunately positioned itself as a trailer of fashion: today, condemning all figurative conformation on the basis of an ingenious theoretic justification of informalism, tomorrow justifying with further laborious ingenuity the new... figurativism! Does this mean that modern aesthetics should hide in a prudent eclecticism? No such thing. (We must however be prudent: a provisional eclecticism can be a lesser evil, a creative phase of confrontations and adjustments.) Is there a meaning as a whole for modern art? The difficulty is that current philosophy has not pondered aesthetic phenomena a great deal. Neither dialectic materialism nor phenomenology (nor existentialism, for example) have given aesthetics a prime position, and we must return to Hegel to find a vision of a whole linked to a vision of the world. Of course this does not happen by chance: of all the human sciences, aesthetics is arguably the most subtle and ambiguous. In a period that is all about, according to a well-known formula, “eliminating philosophy by doing it”, or even, in which there is no longer any sense “interpreting the world if not by transforming it”, the work of art itself should contain this direct capacity for transformation. Aesthetic meditation, faced with the failure of art in relation to this transforming task (modern art has not even managed to become part of the style of daily life), seems like any superfluous thing – which certainly does not correspond to profound reality. Hegel’s predictions on the death of Art, consecutive to the death of God and the advent of absolute knowledge, seem to find a worrying confirmation. Of course, we do not intend to establish a general theory here: merely as a working hypothesis, we admit that this death is a contradictory rebirth; that fundamental understanding of modern art corresponds to the acceptance that it has reached, in its current phase, a climax (difficult for us, experiencing it, to understand), during which a revolutionary discovery of its own specificity persistently means a need for breaking all limitations, all barriers between what aesthetics is and isn’t, between natural and manufactured objects, which, in the final analysis, are appropriated by and for mankind. “Absolute knowledge” is knowledge-in-action. Hegel could not have experienced this: a work of engineering resulting in an aesthetic object even when it is just the consequence of a mathematical appropriation of nature! Today’s society, which for the first time is experiencing poor taste (the poor taste announced by romanticism is a result of the industrial revolution and has much to do with this multiple and contradictory phase of socialization of the production methods that are contemporary to us), will find itself in the threshold of an era in which everything will be aesthetic. The death of art will coincide with the discovery of art itself and the almost simultaneous discovery of its natural inclination to become the form of all human acts; and therefore, of all human knowledge, of all human objects. As such, and as Hegel intended, thought will indeed, without ambiguity, be: the “being who thinks himself,” dialectic identification of the absolute as mediation. From this point of view we might talk about a meaning for modern art, and attempt certain discoveries and tendencies, not as restrictive rules, but as parts that clarify the whole. If we consider the agonizing discovery of the subject: the lucid enhancement of chance (the “objective chance” of the surrealists); the latent conflict between abstract and concrete, figurative and non-figurative; the ambiguous nature of pictorial space, or the baroque attempt to destroy the space of certain modern sculpture – we are accounting for only some decisive stages, and limited by necessary and voluntary austerity, on the path to absolute freedom from all limits and rules. Extreme analysis and extreme division mean the extreme, an incessant need for new synthesis. It is within this panorama that the graphic arts emerge in their full importance. Because of their function, their more intimate link with practical life, it is through the graphic arts that we can make out the future, at least as a hypothesis, in which a new expressive syncretism will correspond to the “death of art”; as a singular activity it is distinctly different from other human activities. (In this sense, it would be interesting to study the deep affinity of the graphic arts with the cinema, with regard to which one can also talk about “the death of art”). This affinity, which we lack the space to analyze here, is also a technical affinity.
Our question is the following: how can we make out this future – the end of the production of isolated works of art, realm of absolute aesthetics – by means of today’s graphic arts? Before attempting to respond to this question, we must not fail to underline that we understand absolute truth as a vocation, achievable, according to the words of a materialist thinker, “in the infinite duration of human life”. Let us speak openly about absolute aesthetics, knowing beforehand that this absolute will be mediation. We can still speak of making out the infinite, which corresponding to our human scale means the stars we see, and space, which astronauts have already visited. Naturally, ultimately, we are... naturalists. But what will naturalism become in the age of sidereal journeys and the electronic microscope Something very new and very old: what a surprise if we find a naturalist basis in the work of many so-called abstract or non-figurative painters, an echo of an old wall and its matter, or of a microscopic landscape? After all, we experience our own ruin. We will absorb death, and with such rigor, such beautiful austerity! However much sculpture proudly brings together the detritus of our civilization or painting limits itself to exploring its own subject, nothing will free us from agony where it has to happen. We can imagine the future (realism?) in terms of overcoming what limits us. One cannot approach the understanding of modern aesthetics without going beyond the narrow limits of aesthetic mediation. Naturally – in human terms, the freest, richest future is, in the domain of thought, science fiction.
THE GRAPHIC ARTS AND HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS
Public relations, marketing, mass media, advertising... It is not by chance that most of the terms of the most progressive modern commerce are Anglo-Saxon; nor is it by chance that until now the most developed techniques in graphic art have occurred not in the socialist countries, but in those with the most aggressive capitalism. Contradictorily, the most refined discovery of the means of mass communication and influence of collective opinion has originated in countries with increasingly fewer new things to say. On the other hand, and in a phase that can be overcome if it hasn’t been already, the countries where revolutionary morals are ingrained tend to exaggerate confidence in these morals, returning to an academic notion of duty, forgetting the power of suggestion and spontaneity. The notion of progress itself becomes evidently critical. Progress is not exclusive to a certain social system: that which, in some sectors, has complacently been called decadence may be the refinement of new techniques for comprehending human relationships, and a capacity for subtle adaptation to the micro-societies of a time that advances confusedly towards the future. Comics, cartoon strips, for example, are, in most cases, an impoverishment compared to traditional literature. But nothing guarantees that their refined adaptability to our time will not become a springboard for fantastic creation. One does not generally hear of the history of pre-Romantic theatre, prior to Hernani, for example: it would be just another example of how little novelty originates in the fripperies of high culture. The history of progress in art is more ambiguous than in any other area of history, and it is not easy to disconnect it from a corresponding study of the young science that is cultural anthropology.
What characterizes the graphic arts currently is that they are a direct vehicle, if not an instrument, for a new synthesis. First and foremost: synthesis of the most diverse lines of progress. The fact that they evolve as a form serving a “commercial” content, in a context dominated by capital investment and profit fever, does not remove them from the most intimate natural inclination, the inclination of a human content of “freedom”, and where the contradiction between the individual and the group has overcome its current acuteness. They are, as such, one of the richest areas for encountering the progress of technocracy, with the most progressive democracy. An encounter delayed by the contradictions of today’s world, but which arguably won’t be prevented from happening. Only that the urgency is ours...
In order to understand that probability, we shall consider the following characteristics:
1. The graphic arts are profoundly influenced by modern techniques, from sales and publicity and public relations. Directly or indirectly, the study or implicit knowledge of the motivations dealt with in the purchase of a product influences everything from the pagination of a magazine, to the art of a book or poster. The graphic arts are therefore an instrument of culture that is of interest as much to aesthetics as it is to anthropology; or, at least, the practical expression of an ambiguous cultural anthropology (in this limited area it is evident that mankind acts as though overcoming all myths means the fabrication of self-made myths).
2. The graphic arts, without denying their basic definition, tend, catastrophically, to be made up of and for large demographic groups. Magazines such as Match or Life tend to overcome national conditions, they are composed in various languages – and as such, tend to move away from original ideological narrowness, which sits badly with the majority. Given that these publications end up belonging objectively to such diverse sectors of international society, they are forced into an objectivity that, though not being the richest, still has an appreciable value. An inclination towards universalism: the topics of Khrushchev’s visit to America or the death of President Kennedy are covered with identical prominence. In this case it is not “good will” that becomes a categorical imperative, but something of which Kant was unaware: the technique of human relations, or the strength of human relationships when they determine the levers of technocracy. We said without denying their basic definition. In fact, along with electronic machines, we are seeing the renewal of manual techniques, and the refinement of techniques aimed at satisfying small numbers, too, such as serigraphy.
3. The graphic arts involve the adoption of all modern visual techniques. For the modern graphic artist, these are materials and instruments for the creation of their own objects: photography or lettering design; lyrical composition or chiaroscuro; the traditional techniques of painting or informalism; the lighting effects or staging of raw materials. There are no operational taboos for their creative activity. We emphasize in particular the use of lettering as a significant material in itself. In this field, too, graphic artwork inherits a defined evolution of modern art to which, in part, we have already referred. The letters in Braque’s paintings, or the collages of printed pages in the first Cubist painting, the letter work of certain current painters, belong to one same movement of fusion between the objects of our knowledge and intimate, subjective experience. (At times fusion is confusion, it is a necessary and understandable epiphenomenon.) Espousing the richest meaning of the interrogations of Rimbaud or Baudelaire, the graphic arts – deeply interlinked with a poetic total of the modern man – also respond to Desnos’ even more tragic concern: “Mots, êtes vous des mythes / Et pareils aux myrtes des morts?” And how do they respond? We shall attempt to answer this by way of conclusion.
The graphic arts tend to bring together in a unique aesthetic object the experience and explanation of things and of ourselves; they contribute to the occurrence of an increasingly vast empirical plenitude, a common rhythm in human life. They are a vehicle of intimacy among men. This path of synthesis takes place through and against: a) The anarchism of progress in different contemporary cultures; b) The extreme specialization and growing particularities of techniques, including the techniques of expression. Graphic art work manifests itself as a live battle against all kinds of division, a vehicle of universalism. This path towards universalism emerges slowly (it is not, of course, a path isolated from other paths or factors) and takes place in the way that genuinely aesthetic motivations are confounded with the motivations thought to intensify the economy of commercial and cultural exchanges. This identification is initially made abstractly becoming concrete only in the perspective of the discovery of a new content for human relations: the motivations of freedom. In this sense, and in particular, graphic art work (such as cinema, for example), precipitates the end of the divisions between the different forms of art, between literary arts and visual arts. It contributes, as such, to the rediscovery of a universal language, where the respective signs would be significant in themselves, and to themselves. Words, in this universal language, foreseeable through the graphic arts, would be cured of all their illnesses, they would cease the appearance of myths; cease to threaten us with their transformation into something lethal like the myrtles of the dead. Babel would cease to cast a shadow over us with its curse.
There was a time when bread was sacred; and generally speaking, all objects made by mankind deserved the respect that resulted from (in terms of the conscience of those who used them) their immersion in their respective motivations. The aesthetic object was, through religious mediation, inseparable from its respective function. Naturalism led us to look at natural or manmade objects as a vision that was simultaneously cosmic (I refer to the naturalism of a Marquis de Sade, for example) and indifferent. What kind of mother, in our time, would tell her son to kiss the piece of bread that has fallen on the floor? Today’s objects object. In the future, they will perhaps adopt another kind of dignity, which is the continuation of lost dignity. The word love, the letter A, bread, would cease to be more or less fatal accidents in our daily life. Desacralized, they would be as decisive as the slightest brushstroke made by the painter in a picture. Life could be compared to a vast work of art, everything would be absolutely aesthetic. Graphic art works help us understand this possibility. (...)
Who, today, does not depend, directly or indirectly, on the graphic arts?