How does one represent the imagination? How can the dialectic between object and non-object become depicted as a singular image? How can the cultural import of drift relate to the literal and strategic deployment of military jargon? These are the some of the essential questions that Perry Kulper investigates within his image created for the David’s Island competition. The answers to these questions drive the process of the image and ultimately become more than the image. The understanding of this process is more important than the image, as it remains solely the manifestation of the conceptual connection between object and non-object, or there and not there.
Kulper depicts the idea of there and not there beautifully with a simple illustration: the dotted line. The dotted line is a line that remains continuous only by the abstract connection of smaller shapes through the perforations of white space that seem to have spliced a once whole line into many pieces. One begins to realize that the full line is composed of both the object and the white space. It is not the domination of one over the other that is the focus, but rather the fusion of the two. This newly composed understanding of the dialectical relationship between the object and the white space demands a new type of seeing. It is easy to see white space as it is to see an object, but to comprehend the figure-field relationship is a rare investigation. Kulper believes this dialectic of there and not there can be extracted from artistic forms to apply to relationships of objective, social, and cultural materials. He moves from the simple form of the dotted line to an analogously elementary question: “What makes up Pencil?”
At first, it seems as though material compositions such as wood, graphite, and lead weight make up Pencil. But on more expounded thought, the introduction of analogs such as the pen and processes like the assembly line make up Pencil. Even further removed from the objectified, Kulper reveals that issues of deforestation, erasability, and the history of writing also make up Pencil. His pencil’s point is that there are a multitude of things, both object and non-object, that define a singular object. One can no longer allow him- or herself to see object and white space as separate entities independently affecting our vision. It is through the comprehension of both worlds that we are able to rethink, resee, and rediscover conventional relationships between the object and the white space that encapsulate them. The rethinking of this object-white space dialectic allows one to see the larger issue composing the object. The reseeing of an object is successfully created when artistically defined issues of both reality and the imagination are connected in an unprecedented fashion, forcing an entirely original understanding of the object in focus. The rediscovery of objects and their relationship with non-objects propel the synthesis of the what the object is, what it is defined by, and what it is not.
Moving from Pencil to project, Kulper invokes this new way of seeing into the generation of his “site plan-ish” image for the David’s Island competition. He begins by asking, “What makes up David’s Island?” With a complete range of object and white space relationships, Kulper attempts to engage with a reseeing of many issues including: “the islander’s experience of remoteness and isolation, the propagation of maritime mythologies and folklore, the manifestations of successive insurgencies and divergent occupations, the cultural import of drift, migration and transience, the latent potential for constructed inundations, the real and imagined sensing of suppressive scopic (panoramic and panoptic) regimes, the representational practices and influences of nautical cartography, the prospective elusiveness of nocturnal ephemera and the literal and strategic deployment of military jargon.” These words, as elegantly composed as his image, set the canvas for rediscovering David’s Island. The question becomes: how does one represent the imagination?
The imagination’s name is given by Kulper to the things that have not yet been, or are seemingly not able to be given a visual identity. Yes a pencil, as an object, is easy to draw from memory, but how does one represent the entire history of writing? While attempting to resee David’s Island, he must first address the visual manifestations of maritime mythologies and the islander’s experience of remoteness and isolation. These issues seem trapped in the imagination, incapable of establishing themselves on a Cartesian plane with lines, shapes, or even volumes attributed. This becomes Kulper’s process of representing the imagination.
The problem with an imaginary process is that the imagination seems to prefer a personal level of experience rather than a communal one. This is primarily why Kulper’s process of unpacking the imagination incorporates a graceful composition of pairing text with image. His representations of the imagination are visual, especially personal, and thus require a delicate attribute of text to allow for exterior understanding of the image. The text, however, does not enlighten the observer with the whole story. Setting the defining issues of nocturnal ephemera and influences of nautical cartography aside, the audience, not living in Kulper’s imagination, can still grasp the intensity and multitude of issues defining his image through the acknowledgment of his exquisite layering technique. The use of both human made and computer made graphics also allow for a diversity of information to be represented. Although the forms of structure and programme are not entirely clear, the density of information is irresistibly transparent.
Although this dense overlay of definers is comprehensible to all, the specific definition of definers cannot exist outside of Kulper’s mind without text. Does he intend to have his imagination understood by outsiders or is it more of a game within himself? Yes, his comprehension of the object and the white space is important, but could this image expand to the scale of a collective understanding of the real and the imagined dialectic? Could we enter into the white space of society to establish a communal awareness of the there and not there? This is all determined by how we decide to represent the imagination.
[ david's island, dotted line, image, imagination, issue_6, james murray, layers, pencil, perry kulper, representation, volume_1, white space ]