8 (2005), Nr.4/December



Plants. 3377 Zeichen.


My monstera demonstrates the fact that the leaf she produces now and then – short before attaining the final state – passes a few days’ period of particular beauty. Three qualities deserve to be mentioned. First, there is the rich green reminding of the tender green visible during the earlier states of growing and indicating the arrival of the dark green that finally is given way to what is so typical of many indoor plants as for instance the gum tree. Second, there is the astonishing degree of plasticity or strength that one last time bears witness of a reproductive exuberance that will be exhausted very soon and give way to a stable gestalt. And thirdly, there is a brightness, a brilliance that may be read by some as a sign of splendour or clearness or decorum of a higher degree, by others as a shine that many of us would like to preserve by using polishing means. (1) What certainly fascinates is the richness of the colour. Like the state of leaf the green under scrutiny here is a colour in transition, a warm colour to my senses, a saturated colour. It is not (yet) the dark green of the blackboard, it is not (anymore) a light green like the hanging street lamps. It proves a kind of fresh opacity. Being an intermediate area between the dark and light colours this green may seem to be the aim of the whole plant’s business to produce a green of which the dark „adult“ and the light „baby“ greens are nothing but derivatives. In other words, this pure green IS the colour GREEN mixed with black or white, and in this respect green is a primary colour. (2) Also, it is not blunt, but bright. The brightness almost makes it seem like more artificial means of brilliantine, of oil, of shimmering paint applied to particular parts for instance of the skin – cosmetics – or the canvas, think of the varnishing days of Turner that delivered to the spectator’s eye what the Brillo Boxes promise to our consumer culture metonymously in terms of transfiguration and aura: – the glitter and shine of glossy periodicals, the eye reflection that functions as a primary mirror to the infant. Is it a reflection of sun beams shedding light over a dark cloud and making it golden and radiate like the soul in the body causing animation within movements directed by reason (Plotin)? (3) And who would doubt the special plasticity we feel capable of grasping with our eyes! What we see is the „poiein” of the material itself, a warm freezing of a moment, taken aesthetically like a snap-shot. This is plastic art ab ovo, viz. sculpture. Sculpture may have passed away and been replaced by all embracing plastic that is so pervasive in all human areas underlying producing procedures. One more time: in terms of production, the stage between the still-growing – a process –  and the grown – a thing – does not concern the product, but affects the finish of what will have been produced. Hence the importance of today’s post-production or post-play, of today’s packaging and display. And again, the prolongation of the varnishing tradition of Turner and his fellows has now turned into the finishing days of the plasmatic painting act itself: the modern essai, the modern experiment – as done and yet not „finished“, an “effet tout court” permanently happening in the arts and the sciences. Who is surprised, in some way or another, by this beauty as achieved by plants? It even applies to animals. For what is called youth assembles and embodies the three qualities described. However with difference to the one singular stage of a continuous being born, growing and becoming grown out/up, there is (or are) a seperate stage(s) with animate beings: not child any longer, not yet an adult: not quite (yet) a young man, not quite (yet) a young woman: a youngstar. The definition is variable. Today the fascination is overdone towards the one end, to youth being ever younger and younger, but also on the other hand, thank god, to age becoming older and older.


Peter Mahr © 2005


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