Vermeer
     Time and time again, the explanatory authority of common language imposes itself on and overrides other languages. As in stories of thye occult, in which spirits make use of any available object in order to reveal their presence, logical-linguistic thought sets out to inhabit everything, infiltrating all aspects of our experience. Its mark is so deep, so universal, that we unknowingly accept this narrative as if it were the only one possible.

*

I love to swim beneath the sea with my eyes open. The seabed appears as a luminous penumbra in which forms and colours flow from one to the other without for that denying the solidity of matter. The light itself cannot be disassociated from the dense, corporeal water; neither can the stones, the sand, nor the slowness of sounds. Only my need to take in air marks the seconds, and turns inhalation and exhalation into the natural metronome of my tempo. I look at my hands, transformed into lighthouses, and my feet, like distant planets. Everything is caught in the net of pearls that comes and goes, gently: the shadow of the surface as it is moved by the wind.
One day I tried to discover what the sky would look like from under the sea. And as I rose up towards the underside of the surface, trying at the same time to resist the pressure that pushed me upwards, I saw for an instant my own face reflected there, at the very moment when the water expelled me and forced me to break that image of a metallic sheen, to split the mirror as if it were mercury.
Each time I repeated the attempt, I discovered different nuances to the same phenomenon. While being true that my face was reflected for an instant, I could simultaneously see the sky through it, behind it. Or perhaps I saw it through my pupils, at the very moment when I broke the surface. But besides reflecting me, and allowing me to see the sky, the underside of the surface reflected the interior of the sea. The light had penetrated through its transparency, and was now caught in the density of the water, illuminating itself.
The underside of the surface of the sea is at once a mirror, a window, and a luminous screen. All this appears on my retina for a fleeting, ephemeral moment, at the very instant when my eye breaks the surface and assigns my experience, as it happens, to the territory of my memory and souvenirs.

*

Never on contemplating a painting have I been able to see through it and discover what it seemed to try to show me: its figurative contents transferred to the "real" world of experience, of places, of people, of things. When I look at a painting, all I can see is an object in itself, a fact that evokes "reality" without ever managing to represent it. Far from being the image of an experience, a painting is an image that offers itself as an experience. The sensitive mechanisms through which painting acts within me are invariably the same, whatever pretext the picture may use in order to crystallise as form. To paint is always to select, distil, abstract. It is to break up the world and then recompose it through the opaque presence of matter on the painted surface. Painting does not show us what we can say we see in it: a forest, two rectangles, a mouth, the colour blue. It uses what we can name to show us what only painting can say.

*

Deja-vu: to live the past in the present. The experience might shake us like a storm, and stir in the air before us, inside us, the phantoms of a lost room, a voice, a light that used to color other faces, a different air.
Thus, for an instant, we live simultaneously in different tenses and in different places. We defy the tyranny of the present that chains us from day to day, and relegate it to its true role in the never-ending transit of living: that of turning our desire into memory, and our yearnings into nostalgia and imagination.
During these moments, life unfolds in simultaneous and contradictory progressions. We are at once an "I was" and an "I am". The present becomes the body of time, the tense, vibrant surface on which converge reflections of the changing skies and the dense light that pushes up from the depths. At this instant, the world acquires such a detailed and lavish corporeality, that on passing it leaves us as if shipwrecked, astonished to find ourselves upon the same shore from which we departed.
Memory happens in the present time, it is not an archive from the past. There is no difference between perception, thought, action, breathing and recalling. It is the natural movement of our minds.

*

I was alone, enclosed in darkness. The only sound came from the movement of the water in the wash tank. A red light bulb gave form to the darkness. The light transformed the "dark room" into a chamber of penumbra.
Penumbra is the transition between light and shadow, the undefinable terrain in which opposites dissolve. Penumbra is imperfect shadow and imperfect light.
Time flowed marked only by the sound from the wash tank. I submerged a white, flexible rectangle in the bottom of the tank, shaking it with pincers, as if it needed washing. Like a distant sound, I thought I saw a shadow moving at the bottom of the tank. At first it seemed to be only the liquid movement of the surface. But suddenly that shadow stopped and at extraordinary speed began to stain the surface of the paper in different places. Lights and shadows appeared simultaneously, and as they converged, they drew figures, forms on paper. The image grew and grew, bloating with shadows, while yet remaining still. It seemed as if it had always been there, suspended in the liquid and aerial medium of darkness. As if my presence in that room had allowed the image to reveal itself and structure with shadows the formless space of light.
The image that finally remained, the photograph, was but the death mask of the raging, living movement with which absence revealed itself as form.

*

What we call consciousness, an apparently continuous flow, is the simultaneous and accelerated superimposition of disparate, fragmentary impulses. Our brain unendingly synthesises and analyses stimuli at such speed that it deceives us into believing that our life unrolls before us with the evenness of a film. If when wandering I try to look at what I see, I am astonished to realise how little space seeing occupies in my consciousness. Where are my eyes as I walk? I stroll down the street, I obey the traffic lights, I do not bump into passers-by nor am I run over by cars. Yet I am not aware of any of this. Although I seem to look, there is before and inside me a continuous dance of fragments of stories, memories, words, details of what I see, forgotten faces, bodily rythms, all equally or more vivid than the world before me. Unable to separate, in my state of consciousness, seeing from recalling, I am in so many different times, in so many places and with so many people all at once. It seems to be a miracle that I can reach the street corner as I stare at a scene before me only to forget it, without even becoming aware of the seeing or forgetting. I try to paint the state we call consciousness when time and time again I walk down a certain silent street. Vermeer.

From Victor Pimstein, Galeria Joan Prats, Barcelona 1999