TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT March 1973

2D/3D

THE TECHNOLOGICAL IMPERATIVE.
IN WESTERN PRACTICE, EXTERNAL OBJECTS AND CONSCIOUSNESS ITSELF ARE QUANTIFIED (SUBJECT-OBJECT RELATIONSHIP), NATURE AS OBJECT.

WE WORK ON NATURE INTENSIVELY TECHNOLOGIZING OUR EFFORTS. WESTERN TECHNOLOGIZING PURPOSES ARE EXERTED THROUGH TIME, MATTER, SPACE, AND CAUSALITY. WESTERN LOGIC AND SCIENCE HAVE CONTINUOUSLY INVESTIGATED THE NATURE OF THE MACROCOSM AND CAUSALITY. EXTERNAL REALITY, OBJECTS IN SPACE, IS UNDERSTOOD OR DISCRIMINATED IN THE FIRST INSTANCE THROUGH SENSORY RESPONSE AND PERCEPTUAL ISOLATION. COGNITION ATTAINS COMPARATIVELY OBJECTIFIED ATTRIBUTES OF THE PHENOMENAL PROPERTIES OF THE WORLD, THE GROSS ACTUALITY OF OBJECTS, THE LITERAL ENCOUNTERING OF LITERAL SPACE. MATTER/ SUBSTANCE BECOMES BOTH OBJECTIFIED AND IS “CONSTRUCTED” THROUGH LOGICAL SYSTEMATIZATION.

THE MIND PROCESSES THESE DATA-INPUTS FOR THE FURTHER TRANSFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGIZING OF NATURE. SUBSTANCE BECOMES ABSTRACT (CONCEPTUAL). NATURE IS DESIGNATED THROUGH NOTATIONAL MEANS: SCIENCE, MATH, AND LOGIC. WESTERN PRACTICE OPERATES WITH MATHEMATICALLY DERIVED MODELS (OBJECTS) OF THE “REAL” WORLD. THESE ANALYTIC METHODOLOGIES, THE INDUCTIVE/DEDUCTIVE APPARATUS, BECOME THE MEANS AND MATTER OF SCIENCE/“REALITY,” AND EXTERNAL REALITY IS “UNDERSTOOD” THROUGH MATHEMATICAL INFORMATION.

THERE DEVELOP IN ART PARALLEL NOTATIONAL INDICES FOR SPACE AND SUBSTANCE. THREE-DIMENSIONAL AND TWO-DIMENSIONAL FORMATS ARE SPACE SYSTEMS STRUCTURED OUT OF THE TECHNOLOGICAL IMPERATIVE AND WESTERN CONCEPTS OF CAUSALITY.

SPACE-TIME INFERENCE
The physical environment is phenomenal space. We apprehend space by the nature of perceptual inference and movement (action). Space is configured through light sensitivity, the antigravity response, and the vertical-horizontal axial loci of perception and movement. This is cued directly by the eye as a teleceptor organ (acuity of binocular vision) and through posture (vestibular apparatus, etc.). Somatically man is always positioned relative to space through moments of inertia and induced motion. Vertical stature is maintained by the righting function and voluntary cortical control relative to gravity and other postural cues.

Right-angled “entrance” is the most direct point of access into the “world,” the face of the painting, the immediate shortest path into the macrocosm. The vertical-horizontal axes are conduits from external cognition to the continuum of space. The horizontal base line is the axis of distance (parallel to the horizon), the horizon opening up the space of the world. Movement occurs on the longitudinal ground plane, the plane of recession. Simulated 3D space, indices of visual approximation, location coordinates, and the critical function of centered foci are based on the functional relevance of causality and control.

Up to the 19th century, 3D represented the macrocosmic world, the achieved visual corroboration of Western use of volumetric space and its temporal attributes. In the 20th century, 3D becomes increasingly illusory and unreal. Space-time are relativistic. “The bird which hovers, falls and becomes a handful of ashes, does not hover and fall in physical space; it rises and falls with the existential tide running through it. . . .” Such a “field of existence” has to be “related to the prelogical act by which the subject takes up his place in the world.” Compare the above statements by Merleau-Ponty to the antirelativist claim by Noam Chomsky that 3D perception is biologically inherent. “There is now good evidence . . . that perception of line, angle, motion, and other complex properties of the physical world is based on innate organization of the neural system.”

Any 3D hypothesis has to be set through an account of perceptual inference. The base is visual sentience, but 3D must be seen as a directed system toward the control of space, the Western scientific assertion of space domination through causality and technology (as differing from a-historical “eternal” cosmological models). Perception follows a linear temporal sequence. 3D is a “realistic” noting of the possibilities of spatial-temporal orientation. 3D sets up as a unified visual field cued to the dimensioned space continuum, to gross macrocosmic space, to finite states of action.

3D OPPRESSION
For 100 years 3D has been restructured or increasingly curtailed in modernist painting. 2D has done away with 3D, although 2D tacitly acknowledges that visible apprehended space is the base phenomenological space. 3D neither links to the modernist demand of “pure form” nor to any newer indices of structure or process. The polemic between 2D and 3D sets up separate categorical metaspatial conditions. These emphasize differing and differentiated dimensional characteristics of location. (There also occur “androgynous” or trans-situational formats, graduated, mixed, or partial intersplicings of the two.) In attacking 3D, mimesis, and “illusion,” 2D does not deviate from or go against Western analytic methodologies, causality, or the quantification of matter.

From the point of view of 2D, 3D is ancien regime, reactionary, or even pathological. 2D attacks the “coercion” of “illusion” through strategies of erasure and changed information usage. 2D is considered to supersede 3D, superior as risk, as historical advance, as evolutionary progress into the future.

2D rejects the connections art/nature/appearance/recognition. 2D excises the legibility of space signals and the visual ranking of scale, as well as any focused, centralized certitude of 3D. In breaking the causal linear chain of events and any verifiable system of object location, 2D avoids linkage to the visible world.

Since 3D supposedly subserves mimesis, linear time, and the bourgeois instrumentation of reality, it is the intent of 2D to turn off from such liability. This is subsumed under the free ends of the artist, liberating art from classical necessity, contingency, and illusion. The viewer is denied representational cues and is thereby relieved of any necessity to introject any such illusions. 2D largely knocks the expressionistic ego out of space.

Identity between art and “real” objects becomes adversary; the artist sets up spaces of contravention, dilemmas of space, “new” spaces, the respatialization of the “world.” Lightened of mimetic charge, art is its own agent. As pure form art is outside of history, taking on a heroic/futurist role. The canvas/object is conceived as an enjoined flat surface; there is an invariant correspondence of surface to the intrinsic nature of the act of painting. The consistency of this position is absolute in 2D theory. Note the polemic and interdictive emphasis of the mimetic prohibition: figure-ground relationships are “no longer tolerable in advanced painting” (Barbara Rose, “Painting Within the Tradition: the Career of Helen Frankenthaler,” Artforum, April, 1969, p. 31) or the accusation by Robert Morris (“Notes on Sculpture, Part IV, Beyond Objects,”Artforum, April, 1969, p. 51) that sculpture is “terminally diseased with figurative allusion.” (Italics in both instances added.)

THE 2D SPACE-FRAME
2D space is transfigured, trans-figured, beyond the figure. The flattening of space-time and the setting up of the totalizing “literal” meanings of flat space are decisions of modernist practice. Figure-ground sightlines are expunged. The excision of figure-ground is a loss of threshold perceptions of space; access is broken off. This is 3D space loss, relinquishing of the capacity to pierce into macrocosmic space. 3D object loss is the shrinkage of interest in the specificity of particular objects. One is psyched into an absolute dimensionless space, the space of the abstract empyrean.

Any temporal significance of space is repudiated. Time as metaphor is discarded. 2D forecloses/foreshortens space, forces space up front, denying linear or historical causality. 2D is the flattening of subjectivity (illusion). 2D space is space in the abstract viewed in the abstract, but hypostasized as “real” space as against “illusion,” that is, the hypostasizing of “pure form,” time-less but “real.”

The painting constitutes a spatial semantic field, open to a range of heuristic space-field postures. Although explicit object or distance boundaries are factored out, one frequently encounters covert illusionistic cues. Nevertheless, the ground of painting as inherent surface denies illusion; this is the supreme format opacity of the 2D uniface. 2D is a generated space often emphasizing peripheral or edge attention. The peripheries of the painting move up front largely ousting the body-oriented central-image axial formats of 3D. 2D exploits the medium possibilities of space/paint differentials, paint “noise” and field complexity, the extended megafields of paint, and those developments are continuously affected by advances in technological overviews.

TECHNOLOGY UP FRONT
The heuristic means of 2D are frequently admixtured with technology, the somewhat uneasy (if eagerly sought) alliance of art and systems technology. Science and technology have changed the uses and possibilities of space reference. 2D can be understood as the etherealization or subjective variance of the dominant modes of advanced technological society. Systemic rationalization of means is introjected into the nature of modernism, and 2D is the methodological locus of such practice. Flat space can be considered a feedback of technological practice insofar as technology affects methodologies, capacities of response, and perception.

A shift occurs from art as mimetic of nature to art as mimetic of technological systematization. The anthropomorphism of figurative art becomes the technomorphism of 2D. Many contemporary artists are virtually “programmed” to new areas of technologies, technicians of the possible. Compressed data, “speeded-up” working habits, etc. are part of the rapid pacing of change, the intersecting interfaces of industrial civilization. “Global” megaspaces differ from earlier discrete brushstroke painting. Surface is speeded up, seen fast. The technological overview is a flattening and instantaneity of information release, compressed foci in unifaced space-frames. Technology consolidates field experience through energy processing, space warping or shrinkage, miniaturization, etc.

In speeded-up or instant “now” spaces, instant space equals simultaneity. Simultaneity becomes inert as a static phenomenon of perception, that is, time is concretized, “objectlike”; time is congealed. Schematized interval replaces duration; periodicity or frequency are extrinsic to the flux of time. Analogous to this periodicity, myth and history are congealed and circular in many non-Western cultures.

The surfaces of 2D are inert in physical and metaphysical reference: lack of extrinsic connection is an attribute of the inert nature of the object, an important deliberate opacity. To be inert also has meaning in differentiating the physical nature of the object. In this sense, the object’s facticity is the reductive aspect of its material base.

Objects free of “illusion” supplant representation of known objects of the world; the familiarity and formality of geometry frequently substitute. Format or shape of canvas/object set the 2D rhetoric of space. If technologically derived or connected, the object is a kind of “product” but one of very special circumstance or invention. Object transcendence is the paradoxical coming together of the processed object and its art junctures. The inert didacticism of the object as object sets up its incommensurability. The point of such an object is not ordinarily metaphoric. Its existence as art is concretized by this very incommensurability.

THE WRAP-AROUND
Through technology occurs the flattening of the world, the compression (simultaneity) of the 3D world into flat impenetrable walls. Space is shoved up front, pulled taut in lateral directions over the “ground” of the canvas. Untarnished surface planes extruded by technology or that simulate such fabrication are wrapped around the surface of a flat world. The wrap-around is a tough surface skin. 2D surfaces possess many of the attributes of skin or membrane barriers: elasticity and/or inertness; porousness and/or surface resistance;qualities of rigidity, tension, or sag, etc. Skin is the membrane, the boundary, that links canvas and “world.” (Clement Greenberg noted in 1949 that “the world was stripped of its surface, of its skin, and the skin was spread flat on the flatness of the picture plane.”)

Western space becomes a big hole, an existential abyss. 2D covers the hole with flat spaces and flat colors. Space is compressed and sliced into 2D overlays which if flipped aside would reveal nothing other than an “infinite” series of such slices. Sculpture is more displacement of space than volume. For example, cubes are emptied out, made vacant, their substance voided, pumped out, or perhaps, scooped out (earth holes). Cubic formats can be viewed as skins pulled rigid to form the object folded into cubic space. The cube, like the painting, is an “infinite” series of identical “laminated” surfaces; if one peels a sufficient infinite number of these identical nonexistent skins, one would arrive at a “final” skin, the flat wall of painting. If one could peel or skin Minimal painting or sculpture and discard the peeled skins, they would resemble the inert scattered material of Process art. Such formats are “flattened” or transcendent. Time and space are vertiginous as modernism is reified toward the transcendental.

THE SUBLIME UP FRONT
The usually opaque experience of the wall of color cannot move into the “beyond,” except as the beyond is condensed into the physical matter of the paint skin itself. Thus transcendence experiences its own skin, the flat wall of paint right up front, the perfected material surface, utopia right up front.

2D is a syncretic composite of technology and transcendence. 2D is frequently equated with the immaterial, although it is heavy with “material,” paint, sometimes texture, stretcher structure, etc. Technology is pushed to give “mystic,” dematerialized, or ethereal sensations through light, motion, etc. The transcendental in 2D is often achieved through subliminal responses to color and the up front compressions of technology, the “opening” of space to the “sublime,” the skin of the sublime.

Color field painting is “opaque” even when color is dilute or transparent. But soaked chromatic abstraction has intimations of atmosphere, and space “leaks through.” Color is not anchored and can be viewed abstractly, as nature sensation, or extended into the infinite, the transcendental. One can extrapolate sensations of pleasure, freedom, pansexuality, etc.

These effects of transcience, of fugitive sensation, form the skins of the sublime (i.e., the “Veils” of Morris Louis), the transcendental abstract. Bright and untarnished color panoplies form a reflexively rainbow idealism, the decorative, effulgent radiant ground. The sublime is the condition of passing through the skin, yet it is the skin of the surface (with all its incommensurability) and impenetrable despite its translucence, its radiance. There is nothing beyond the surface unless it is utopia, and that is a hard supposition to lay on contemporary America.

OTHER FACES AND DISSOLVES OF 2D
As a 2D mode in the “pushed” manner, Abstract Expressionism is unusually explicit in laying down 3D cues. Abstract Expressionism typically occurs somewhere between events in space and the uniface. The somewhat expressionist ego hazards itself discontinuously through poured, spilled, washed, or slapped-on paint. Surfaces are crowded with abstract incident, imprints or traces (evidence of occurrence), or uneven texture (of incident), successive improvisations in randomized and ambiguous location. In more extreme examples, there is lack of “air,” the effect of matter and time inertially crushing in. The artist digs out of the clogged “earth” (pigment). Subsequent more flattened space deadens incident as the surface is increasingly rationalized through technological surrogates.

In Conceptual art, data “lines up” in linear or omnidirectional placement, and function is spatialized on the basis of random or sited distributions. Artists handle statistical, programmed, or fortuitous connections, coded “messages,” etc. Such “objects” need not be corroborated through physical or logical (probabilistic) means. Output or inference operate within art/art world feedbacks. The art look is “concrete,” the linked “skins” of objects, spatialization, and information release. Technological sighting is extended by language use: terminological shifts, displaced or ambiguous notation, open-ended entropic language. 2D is worked on as substance in its own right, and as substance, space becomes dissolved into constituent or notational elements. This art connects to science, technology, and to linguistic practice. Control over space in today’s science is predicated on cyberneticized space input and information technology. Virtually instant transmission and retrieval is part of technological processing and the miniaturization of space. Artists take over information technology and work with enhanced, decremented, or transformed signals, with monitored space and space circuits, with high-speed output and overall scanning of surfaces. These are new “skins” of space.

The dissolve of space and its furtive (?) off-hand reappearance can be noted in Pop realism. 3D is filtered through media distance/instantaneity, triggered through photos, photo reproduction, etc. This is 3D at second or third hand, clear but blurred out, message abstracted but right on, technologized and shoved flat up front. Photos are used as code or data systems with space cueing and feedback, the washing-over (flattening) of the space through the simulated photo or reproduction process. Such “realism” has an ambiguous but common territoriality with the subject matter of the photo. This territory is more or less common public property and often highly influential in nonprogrammatic ways. Photo information has a high incidence of tacit events and “everyday” texture. The nature of its flattened realism is continuously affected and transformed by technological change and covert behavior patterns.

EXCITATION AND BOREDOM
Objects/structures strained to any physical or intentional limit “fatigue.” Developments are continually pushed to such limits to avoid boredom, but the very process accelerates boredom. The cycle is typically as follows:

1. speeded-up “production” process;

2. therefore, more frequent and more rapidly produced excitations;

3. result, boredom or surfeit (over-excitation);

4. further excitation (soon to be speeded up in turn).

Boredom is the stress/passive discharge of the frequency of over-excitation. Technology sets a fast pace and the boredom of technology (entropy) sets in equally fast. To avoid surfeit, artists have sometimes grabbed boredom as a partner, a more or less sharp ploy (excitation). One espouses boredom to avoid being caught short by it.

The boredom of the artist anticipates the boredom of art, the boredom of possibility. Efforts to upstage boredom are found in the exaggerated focus or deliberately “ridiculous” surface skins or “packaging” of “eccentric” abstraction, in some aspects of Pop, funk art, etc. Audiences excitedly/ blandly gaze on as artists wrap up museums (no one has yet wrapped up a museum director), show overhead films of enlarged close-ups of shitting (on the audience), etc. “Body art” is the more or less radical attempt of artists to interpose body, their bodies, in live action to offset stereotypy or the flattening out of affect. Body interposition is the overt excitation of self into the flat infinities of 2D. But excitation runs the same course of charge, discharge, recharge (new excitation) and is still up against surfeit. The audience anticipates instant boredom when it first excitedly pops its eyes on object or performance. In an important feedback dissolve and recharge, the running down of interest, surfeit, can trigger new excitations, a linked connection which charges itself with the very running down of the previous excitation. This last is a prime connection and conduit of art information today.

PURE FORM AND UTOPIA
There are, perhaps, three primary intentions common to 20th-century abstraction:

1. the artist’s willed (gratuitous) freedom;

2. pure form, the autonomous object;

3. transcendental beauty or perfection.

The meanings or qualities of flatness as they emerge in 2D are:

1. pure form;

2. the pleasures of color;

3. simultaneity, the “one world” look;

4. the technological rationalization of means.

“Pure form” works both into and against technology. Pure form by definition exists in its own right. At the same time, modern man is reassured by object closeness (in appearance and fabrication) to the surfaces of technology. The esthetics of pure form are compatible with the potential perfection of the technologies of science. Pure form fronts the future, the technological and sensual perfection of utopia. The transcendental aspect of pure form in respect to futurist trends is the simultaneous “now” of abstraction combined with millenial hope. Pure form logically extends from 2D to utopia. No artist need go the whole route. Onecan concretize action at any “stop” en route, but the momentum of direction is strong:

1. THE ART OBJECT AS PURE FORM;

2. PERFECTION;

3. TRANSCENDENCE;

4. UTOPIA.

This connects/disconnects to excitation, boredom, and dysfunctional models. That it is not subsumed under either flatness or utopia is the particular value to the artist of excitation. The course of excitation, its special feedbacks, is part of the technological surface of input and discharge, part of the strained stance of the artist in respect to the linked skins of technology and society. Excitation both connects/disconnects to pure form and utopia even as the artist stands aside in exacerbated ubiquity.

Perhaps the encounter with the present/future should read:

1.THE ART OBJECT AS PURE FORM;

2. PERFECTION;

3. TRANSCENDENCE;

4. UTOPIA; Asymmetrical to these four locations is

5. EXCITATION, the artist’s willed (gratuitous) freedom pushed to a fine point of input irritability (technologized?).

DYSFUNCTIONAL MODELS
Systems degenerate or become authority-ridden and oppressive. Interchange between artists in some instances becomes increasingly programmed. Control is exerted through the unanimity of unified and plausible claims in a relentless takeover of the visual environment. System breakdowns and severed or dysfunctional space models pile up. This runs counter to utopia and in extreme cases indicates threat or disaster. Breakdowns are closely linked to the more or less arbitrary roles of artists in forced situations, the effects of the controls exerted in highly centralized corporate systems. Breakdown and change, rate of change, boredom, surfeit, etc., are all foci of tension and violence. This situation is furthered by the corporate enclosures (control) of tension, by the general disassociation of input and action and the resulting dispersals of impact. (This might be fortunate enough in an era of increasing bureaucratic power.) Excitation may pick up or inflect tension, but excitation may also parody, permutate, or randomly (en-tropically) scatter tension.

Space-frames become arbitrary or dysfunctional under forced dispositions. The artist bends technology to his purposes, but the result is refracted in turn by the means employed. Such an object is produced under the type of conditions of instrumented possibilities. The free will of the artist is refracted through the speeded-up limits of the particular instance at hand and in the preemptive positions of technology in general. If a computer is used, one will get art under the systemic processes of computerization. The artist will control the goal, the print-out, etc., but the output is instrumented through current methodologies.

The artist will frequently give a special “twist” to the “product.” This twist or personal “torque” is an excitation which arbitrarily disconnects or gratuitously uses technology in special dispositions, thus declaring or exaggerating the artist’s independence. Discontinuity/excitation serves to point up the artist’s freedom/separation in respect to “invention.” Discontinuity, however, derives from the input/output characteristics of the artist’s inventive takeover of means. This is the continuous current interfacing of artist/technology/connection/ disconnection.

2D OPPRESSION
The theory of abstraction as a theory of limits becomes both authority- and power-ridden. Critical histories become dogmatized. This really got going with the successes of the 1950s, resulting in demands that artists shape up to the “New American Abstraction.” This is the 1950s belief in the unidirectional advance into the future which in the 1960s becomes the dogma of “advanced art.” The concept “advanced” makes both political and ideological claim. “Advanced” art is posited as art that occupies superior position, of the future but vouchsafed to few. Such a role is not available to the less privileged, the lumpen-artists. Flatness is based on two illusions. The first regards a thing (a painting) as only what it is constituted out of, that is, if the surface is flat, the nature of painting by definition is flat. Such systemic illusion is based on a theory of limits in regard to the presumptive nature of the structure.

The second illusion is the illusion of the future, that the skin of art can be the utopian habitat of the future. In an era of abundance (now receding?), the American-Western achievement gives off a tough opaque right now transcendence which in its political positivism comes out as America the world, the American overlook of the world’s resources. 2D transcendence is the here and now, the earthly paradise packaged in the up front products of technological civilization. 3D subsumed the bourgeois representation of power. 2D connects to that same space-conquering thrust through the technological rationalization of means. Nor can one ignore the accumulative art gluts and pollution, esthetic waste, that are conspicuous to the production habits of an advanced industrial society.

THE “POLITICS” OF 2D/3D
2D and 3D have much in common. Both are conceptual models of generated synthetic spaces with “global” strategies and restricted semantic networks. Both quantify time and space. And both are coded instrumental systems directed toward space definition control, the factoring and informational processing of space inference and perception. What is common is the use of power. What is different is how or where this power is exerted; this comes out in the differing functions and appearances of the “skins” of 2D and 3D.

3D depicts a cosmology of temporal and finite experiences while 2D wills the transcendence of time and space. In 3D, the dramaturgies of figure-ground see man as central, and time is linear and historical. 2D is conceptual, reflexive (sees its history as internal and logical), and formal, no “heroes” willing the cosmos (except the up front artist as hero/object). This is the “willed” unwillingness of 2D to touch “illusion.”

2D and 3D are problematic and illusory in respect to “reality.” Both are partially flawed as their claimed consistencies are continuously violated by “reality.” A considerable slippage in and between systems occurs and “coverage” (extent of coherence or belief) is apparent or gratuitous. Situations have broken open, dispersed, or degraded to the extent that nothing operates all the way or with uniform consistency. A more extreme skepticism would say that nothing operates at all today.

3D and 2D are machines of causality. Are these machines still operative? Big ideational claims and copious amounts of art information yield seemingly small potatoes. (Small potatoes, low yield, can bean O.K. excitation for the artist.) Our cosmopolitan acknowledgments, typically derived through art, supersede art. We discard art yet retain art provocative temperaments! Art systems are discounted. Despite discards, our processing remains constant, i.e., quantified perceptual inference, subject-object control. Recognition and acknowledgment, the causal deductive-inductive apparatus, are embedded in perception. The connections of art and causality are exact and deeply structured. The arts are the cognitive-perceptual process in ideal action. Entropically in the world of “real” action, products of such cognitions are artificially souped up or continuously split off, an emptying out of the bag of possibilities.

2D was the great 20th-century reconstruction. As 2D winds down, artists attempt to resurrect 3D on more or less new terms. One ends up with coexistent overviews. Take your pick:

1. 2D and 3D both work;

2. one or the other works but not both;

3. either or both work partially or intermittently;

4. nothing works.

Minimal belief situations (nothing works) are eagerly sought areas of interest/excitation, the cool apocalyptic pleasure of being on the edge of things, that famous edge of nothingness. These options are an infinity of choice (precluding surety). An infinity of choice is the closure of possibility. Given the new logic of possibility, most anything works half-ass. In “infinite” situations of colliding possibilities, little or nothing is “out.” All is telescoped into the present/here/now, the backing up of excitation. The machines of art pump along more or less oblivious to the breakdown of possibility.

SPACE MAN IN ACTION
Western man is largely a “space ape,” activist and aggressive. Action in space-time is exemplified by the separation in painting of figure and ground. Figure is being or object located or tensioned against the ground, the extension of “figure” in the universe, the autonomy of corporal existence, the radical working of will. Ground is the milieu or space of happening. Western man has extended power technologically and the “hubris” of Promethean figures is the “heroic” aspect or agon of engagement within the macrocosm, scenarios of the hero in action, and more recently, as antihero. Time is viewed in a historical-political cosmos. Time as a dramatic active principle connects to the past and to the future in an ongoing universe. 3d is, also, the arena of man’s contingent and transient appearance/action in the world, a rather more vulnerable status than power exertion indicates. This contingent “pathos” is the existential acknowledgment that qualifies/surfaces Western quantifying aggressiveness, and, however important in art (or past art), in no way refutes the drive for power. How much of this “possibility” remains today is a double-edged question, first, in respect to possibility in the corporate state, second, in respect to the “will” of artists.

ACTION/POLITICS
Today history is shoved up front, immediacy and/or threat. In modernist art, history or the radical existence of events is denied. It doesn’t say much for the ambitiousness of painting to claim that history and event have been preempted by film. The extensions of space can be viewed as public space, “political” space. Political space is a public realm (not symbolic distancing or allegorical side glance). Given instant environments, activism takes on temporal force, time as activist ground. Political boundaries are coextensive with the historical marginality of the “actors.” Such a marginal position is one of possibility or even of danger (in some countries, not the United States), and cannot be connected to any fixed bourgeois location or privilege.

DREAMS OF TERROR
The 3D dream of terror is the inability to resist the onrushing of events, attempted gestures toward coping with social terror through expressionist stress. 2D is a flattened literal piecing together of parts so that they can’t blow up in our faces! The walls of our civilization are composed of abstract color fields, and if they are peeled away, what terrors will show? Modernists, of course, do not think this way and such a reading is too apocalyptic to any artist’s intent. But the perfection of art sets up against the violence of the world. The perfection of art encounters the gorgons of modern history.

CAUSALITY UP FRONT
The quantification of matter, the technologizing of nature (time, matter, space, and causality) are the great power machines of progress. These enormous dynamic megasystems, machines of causal effectiveness, are potentially catastrophic in their momentum of implementation.

2D would claim to harness these forces in that great route, PURE FORM, PERFECTION, TRANSCENDENCE, and UTOPIA. How will this be accomplished in the production centers and market places of advanced industrial society, in megalopolis? What are the futurist possibilities of freedom in paranoid America, in a production system of paranoid Americas?

3D action can only be activated under corporate one-world system limits that have some give. Coercion and oppression are part of big system buildups. Any reach into the macrocosm, any critical theory of the “real” can only occur in open terrain. The cognition of space, the 3D horizon, is a biophysical source of freedom, free movement into free space. Action in 2D is the making of pure form, the analog of pure possibility or perfection. Action is also the interposition of self, as body, a freedom claimed as a biological given anterior to society or causality. But this can only occur where system limits are nonoppressive. Excitation may be as pure a form of freedom or quasi-freedom as one can grab at today. Discontinuity may become increasingly important in avoiding corporate coercions. Dysfunctional models or breakdown may yet service freedom.