June 11, 2016 -
July 16, 2016
La Balsa Arte Bogotá
Panoramic. Question of method, La Balsa Arte Bogotá
Cuestión de método, o la forma como intención humana
The exhibition Cuestión de método, by Ramón Laserna, comprises ink drawings, written images, spatial constructions and photographs that speak of his long dialogue with the world of form and, in particular, with the reticular and linear geometries visible in countless instances of everyday life.
The first series of works comprises wefts of hand-drawn lines. Each work is accompanied by numerical notes written on a paper strip. The second series of works, titled Imágenes escritas, contains 17 diptychs in which each sheet of A4 paper is occupied by planes composed of various letters that do not form sentences and fail to abide by any syntactic order.
In the large-format works in ink, hatched lines are drawn on the paper according to a set of instructions formulated in advance. Only the length of the straight lines is variable and is derived from the magnitude, between one and six, that appears on the faces of a die that is rolled several times in succession in order to complete the picture; that is to say, until the end of the game.
The composition of these drawings is obtained via the ordered distribution of parallel lines; there is an element of chance or the indeterminate that is provided by the instructions: “Roll the dice, draw a line of magnitude x, with such origin and in such direction.”
The lines begin at determined places on the Cartesian plane: from left to right, from center to top/bottom, from the upper or lower border, from the left or right edge, or from the center. This comprises a combinatorial instruction aimed at building an unspecified number of proposals.
According to the instruction that pertains to the start-direction of the line on the Cartesian plane, recognizable patterns are produced in homogeneous areas of greater or total density, as is the case with the reiteration of 1 (since all magnitudes of 1 to 6 contain a 1), where overlapping vertical and horizontal lines produce a tight weave.
The drawn line is a semiotic element embedded in a set of lines and is a sign in a constellation of straight elements of different lengths, with a point of origin and a destination. The drawn line, as a succession of points traveling in a constant direction with zero curvature, is a social object as much as a sign.
At the level of analysis, the work of Laserna raises several questions. The first step in understanding it calls for the recognition that its production comprises a discourse that is organized in a particular manner (in this case, regular and systematic), where a method for determining the deployment of the image is determined in advance.
The method is manifest in so far as a particular set of actions produces a unique and verifiable result. The lines on the sheet of paper (of predetermined dimensions) express a thought that revolves around the idea of the iteration of several steps that follow a predetermined algorithm. If “An algorithm is a finite sequence of non-ambiguous steps, executed within a finite time,”1 then we can say that Laserna chooses a method that originates within programming and can be summarized in the following manner: Define the problem with precision.
Specify the input data necessary for the resolution thereof (input specifications), including origin and destination, and the iteration required to obtain varying magnitudes.
Visualization of the information to be provided to solve the problem (output specifications).
All this seems very clear; however, the exit or the end is the culmination of a process that produces a clear image whose meaning is the image itself; that is, the method is applied to solve a visual problem, and only one from within, what are for us, countless statistical probabilities.
From another perspective, his work refers to historical moments in the formation of Modern Art, particularly constructivist precedents and the Manifesto of Concrete Art written by Theo Van Doesburg in 1930, which raises the need for non-discursive artistic expressions.
If that which is contemporary is the grouping of different times, then the relations between various articulated historical moments would be key to decrypting the axes that move the work in question. In this sense, we work to act against the author’s intentions, seeing in his images associations with other moments and practices in art. While here we are not able to attribute any particular significance, paradoxically an intention on the part of the author is established which is aimed at producing a series of hermetic images.
However, no one escapes: Laserna contributes to the creation and dissemination of new meanings. His work shares aspects, among others, with pieces by artists who work with logarithms. More broadly, it is located in a field that merges a present-future of the visual arts, where multi-temporality and the signifier as an empty box convene tissues of networks and programming codes in which modernity and network cultures come together in a revision of established traditions. In this sense, his work aims to confirm that the contemporary is no more than a fiction devoid of unity, an operational concept that regulates the division between the past and the future.2 This aspect underlines the meticulous manual preparation that characterizes his work, since such great technical care seems to stand in contradiction to the designing of algorithms and the immense possibilities of creation that allow for contemporary digital culture.
The second group of works consists of 17 diptychs comprising iterations of symbols and letters generated by a computer, thus leading to different compositions. In the repetition and (or) alteration of basic signs our attention turns to the full and empty spaces, the planes and the areas of density generated by the individual figures, the columnar structures or similarities among diverse letters or symbols. Between each pair of images a formal dialogue is established; in some, elements are weighed up that could be, or which are indicative of some obscure meaning, written “between the lines” or, ultimately, none at all; an open reading of the work focuses on form. Unlike automatic writing, in this series, as in some works by Carl André, signs are related to the search for form detached from literalism – here writing is a pure trace, it is the repetition and alternation of signs that produce spaces, territories, patterns and weaves. With the disappearance of the manual gesture, the image emerges naturally; apparently as a set of aggregated elements that allow for the visualization of abstract constructions.
Ramón Laserna’s work invites a reflection on what art is to philosophy and so, in the words of Adryan Fabrizio Pineda Repizzo: “Philosophy is not a subsidiary of art, but neither is it a judge. It is a spectator of creation and the development of a human experience that encourages thinking. And by virtue of the multiplicity of subjects and means of expression that favor post-historical art, the philosophy of art has to recognize the possibilities of its courses and the distinction of the critical analysis of works. The task of the philosophy of art in the epoch of the end of art falls more under the analysis of the initial conditions necessary to speak of a work of art when anything can be a work of art. That is, the field of the philosophy of art is precisely the challenge of art, the absolute heterogeneity of possible works of art. Therefore, to consider the invitation to think about the position of the philosophy of art is a matter that today, in the midst of the end of art, requires consideration and deserves to be addressed.”3
I think this has been achieved. Cuestión de método extends an invitation to think about the diachronic fields of today’s world, the mobility of practices, and the possible re-territorializations of art.
It is a question of method, to know and be faithful to the way the work arises and is developed, think about its limits and its principles, locate the spheres of thought into which it is inserted; today all of this is crucial for the artist who wishes to position himself in the category of “contemporary” or at least in the networks of the present-future. Ramón Laserna has been faithful to an interest in the geometry of the visible world, a reading where form is prioritized over interpretation. His work obeys the imperative of satisfying the imagination and reason, and in this sense it is inscribed in the field of art.
In 1953, Roland Barthes wrote that, “Style, writing, is the area of freedom for the writer, form considered as human intention.”4 For Laserna, form is the area of freedom, it is the intention itself.
Ana Patricia Gómez
Director La Balsa Arte
Bogotá, May 2016

Selected images

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Ramón Laserna studied Industrial Design at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. In 2016 he participated as a resident in Flora ars + natura, directed by José Ignacio Roca. His graphic exploration is very close to abstract movements and Latin American kinetic art. With his methodical line drawings he achieves a body of work of great diversity. Through small changes in the angle of planes, he produces visual phenomena of vibration, movement, or moiré within a refined formal style. His abstract drawings evoke Latin American optical art of the mid-20th century. His experimentation ...

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