Issue #70 March 2024


How to characterize the space that articulation articulates into? Perhaps this odd question needs it own further articulation. We could characterize articulation as the provision of greater detail, just insofar as that detail consists in finer, stable distinctions. Something is inarticulate, it lacks detail, edges and stability. Thus to articulate is to clarify and complexify, multiply the stable and relevant distinctions within it, a division into further regions and sub-regions, limits and angles, to clarify via complexifying.

The right kind of distinctions, stable ones that draw a complex figure, are articulated within, or upon, or throughout something inarticulate. With a distinction, things in that inarticulate mass are slowly chipped away; a detailed, complex figure emerges. Is this figure carved into and out of the mass (spaces being inserted within it) or are they constructed atop, the mass being extruded and structured through them? This is the question we began with, now hopefully articulated a little better, outlining a choice: When we articulate a thought, is it a matter of bringing something forth into a complex figure – forth into what void? Or is it matter of hewing and whittling that thought, introducing spaces and reliefs into it – voids from where? This choice orients the task of articulation, it informs, what it is supposed to do. The ideal is not merely that of clarity, but of purpose, which, in turn, might only clarify once we have a nicely carved-out articulation in our hand. We see this reflexivity in a counter-movement, that of the liberty of undoing the given stabilities and sub-regions, in order to articulate something that, up until that point, remained unthinkable, perhaps covered up or encased.

Perhaps this then can begin to answer our question; the space that articulation articulates into is akin to the space in which a knot is undone within. The tying and untying of knots reveals the complexity of structures that can be wrought from a simple line, but both knot and line are ambivalent to the space that surrounds them (this ambivalence to the dimensions of the up and the down, the front and the back, is what makes knots useful for securing). They only require that space, in a fractional way, to enable their degrees of freedom for the business of their tangling. Once tangled, once articulated, the space vanishes again, reappearing, again in a merely minimal way, when it is time to disentangle, to disarticulate. In other words, the space enters either to free up or to reinvest a standing reserve of potential.

Cover Illustration: Blinky Palermo, Untitled from the portfolio Miniatures, (1972)


March 2024


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