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Date: 18 June 2013 14:47:46 GMT+05:45
To: Griffith Owen <>

And if a fundamental certainty comes from somewhere pre-language, the so called 'hinge beliefs' formed by having a body engaging in a 'deed' - it is that very deed which unravels the very knowledge derived from there. That to me is what work is.

Does certainty somehow 'belong to' precision?
Knowledge to accuracy?



Date: 18 June 2013 15:02:26 GMT+05:45
To: Milena Barton <>
Subject: Re: Whistling in the Dark

An oddity in precision, calibration and so on is the constant presence of what engineers call ‘uncertainty.’  The tool can measure correctly, but with ‘this’ much uncertainty.  It will be wrong to an extent, but this extent can be measured, can be stated.  So the measurement is correct ‘plus of minus’ a certain ( ! ) amount.  There is always the ‘room for’ wrongness.  Uncertainly never seems to go away, but one can work with it, within it, if one knows just how much ‘uncertainty’ there is.  Sounds actually quite strange…  Uncertainly belongs to precision (it is a part of it), but it seems that it would also be correct to say that certainty belongs to precision (it is the overall sense of it), too, because the uncertainty can be factored in to the calculations in a very real sense.  The whole thing can be made to work, in other words.  (Detail and whole, of course).

Date: 18 June 2013 15:11:51 GMT+05:45
To: Griffith Owen <>

By carving knowledge unravels.
The work is the undoing of knowledge. 
Something raw is encountered - 'pre belief'
From there certainty is closer than knowledge- 
-because this is the origin of our very primary 'hinge beliefs' ?

On 18 Jun 2013, at 13:19, Milena Barton <> wrote:

and then sometimes I think that those people out there who HAVE got a problem, but who keep churning out works like bread, like Bridget Riley, like Gerhard Richter, like so many others- they are the most puzzling of all. How can the work become so doable? How can it reach this point where it seems that the struggle and fight for something is over?the making the work itself has been conquered.  Why do I look for this notion of struggle? Does Bridget Riley still struggle? Where is the evidence for that struggle if it is there? How is it possible for this engagement with matter to become possible like this - how can they go on producing like this?Pollock died instead. Van Gogh died instead. When the work becomes doable and possible it is over, just as it might be over because it is not doable or possible. In between those two impossibilities one lives and works.

On 18 Jun 2013, at 12:24, Milena Barton <> wrote:

It is not as if having a problem meant not whistling in the dark. There is no darkness like the darkness of not ever getting to the point of having a solution- because the 'identity' of what one does, of what i do at least, changes constantly as i try to focus in on something- maddening, disheartening, exhausting, frustrating- that no matter how much I close in 'it' wriggles out of my grip like a slippery fish.There is an impossibility of focus when engaging with work is far from solutions, attempted solutions even. working itself IS the problem. It is the doing it, there is no secondary step of now i work to solve something else. There is no solution to it other than not to do it. Today I again thought ' i can just stop doing this'. That would be a solution.

Some Random Thoughts :

Now, it could well be that Romio Shrestha suggested that you use assistants because he understood that you had already put such a strain on your body…  He must also have seen that you need to work through a lot of things and that you need to see them in order to do that.  ‘Close supervision’ is maybe the key term.  But… everything would have to go through a language of some kind, even if it is the language of the template.  Right now the template is not ‘language,’ but only a tool.  With assistants the template will become a means by which instructions are passed from you to someone else - a language.  All very tricky, I would imagine.

I like the notion that assistants might do parts of each sculpture.  To get a sculpture to the stage when the template could be applied, for example.

Pollution, poverty, bad roads and… assistants.  We accept what the environment brings, good and bad.

Not sure that teak is right for you.  It does last forever, of course, but still…

The one loop of wood inside the other immediately makes me think of harmony, of one part in harmony with another.  (One part vibrating with another to use a musical metaphor). But why does ‘one inside the other’ make me think of that when ‘one reflecting the other,’ and other such terms for various arrangements, did not make me immediately think of this ‘harmony] notion ?  A kind of tension which results from not having the circular cross-section, perhaps, is a part of it.  Very slight nervousness, maybe, which results from the close proximity of these lengths of wood.  Or maybe they really do vibrate, of course !

More Random Thoughts :

Precision is complex and often confused with accuracy.  I have stared at the definitions of both terms, and even internet pages which attempt to unravel the differences between the two, and I still don’t really get it.  There is only a vague certainty (only artists have ‘vague certainties’ - is that true ? ) that it is ‘precision’ which has to be addressed, rather than ‘accuracy.’  Precision is concerned with repetition, or ‘crucially’ it is concerned with repetition.  Repetition being understood as some thing like ‘trying to do the same thing again,’ but not necessarily trying to do it better.  Trying, in a way, to make a group of things which will all be in a harmony with each other.  Maybe even trying to find the thing which will bring together an existing group and, in the sense which you mention, therefore be a paradigm.  Trying to get closer to an ideal which is, presumably, only becoming clear, or only becoming clearer, with each movement towards it.

Strange to say that some thing occurs to me about the use of assistants.  They are a ready made audience !  They are a way of bringing the work (trapped on a computer, or sitting in a studio) out into the world, at least to an extent.  They must somehow disperse the work out into a wider community.  (I heard stories in Düsseldorf and Köln about Richter and the very many students who had been his assistants over the years and there was some thing of this idea that his work was percolating through a society through this particular channel as well as, of course, through the more recognisable channels.  But the ‘assistant channel’ had, of course, many aspects to it that the ‘gallery channel’ did not have).  This would be especially interesting in your case as you find yourself in this ‘other’ culture…  In my case…  I am not sure how it would work out at the moment.  I react strongly when I hear artists these days say ‘we’ did this, or ‘we’ decided to do that, as if a committee was involved, and that does seem to be one thing which can occur when assistants are employed.  The question of who is responsible for the work itself becomes obscured, whereas that responsibility could never be obscured for Pollock, of van Gogh and so on.  I cling to that sense of responsibility and also, naturally, the expectation that, through concentrating on the work myself, some thing useful might emerge for me.

The ‘over-cautious’ notion is surely linked to the ‘precision’ notion…  It is as if the work were incremental, that it came closer to what it ought to be by increments.  That the truth might be arrived at by taking many small steps.  That appears cautious, and yet we know that, from time to time at least, some of those steps are quite dramatic, even if still apparently ‘small.’  The fact that one appears to be cautious does not mean that there is also a lack of adventure, or of ambition.  Caution might even suggest a ‘waiting,’ which might be essential in some cases.  And the assistants make things faster, so where is the ‘waiting’ then situated ?  A space has to be created in which waiting can occur ?

The ‘arbitrary’ (which is the end of everything) could easily pop up once this incremental notion is abandoned.  As if, in taking a particular step too quickly, some thing arbitrary would have an opportunity to jump in and would not perhaps be recognised as such.

This sense that the work can fluctuate between being absurd, stupid even, and exactly right, surprising even, is some thing I am familiar with.  The fluctuation itself is unnerving. Is it a fluctuation between the work and some thing which is not the work ?  I wish this fluctuation did not exist and yet it is surely a sign of some thing going on at a certain level, quite possibly a deep level.  Would it go away if the work was genuinely ready, genuinely finished ?  Would a type of nervousness cease ?

Extraordinary how the ends of these carved ‘channels’ (solid channels) turn and change shape.  (Extraordinary meaning, literally, ‘out of the ordinary,’ which is appropriate here as this change is so unexpected).

Accuracy and Precision :

“A good analogy for understanding accuracy and precision is to imagine a basketball player shooting baskets. If the player shoots with accuracy, his aim will always take the ball close to or into the basket. If the player shoots with precision, his aim will always take the ball to the same location which may or may not be close to the basket. A good player will be both accurate and precise by shooting the ball the same way each time and each time making it in the basket.”
(From the Internet).

Of course this sort of definition is not particularly helpful, but it does suggest that precision is on a quite separate level from accuracy.  Precision is (almost) a kind of ‘looking from the outside.’  A meta-level of activity, or, in Spinoza’s phrase, seeing the World ‘sub specie aeternitatis.’  The rules are quite different to those governing accuracy.  Repetition seems crucial to precision and repetition is also ‘critical’ in some sense, too.  Precision might suggest that everything ‘below’ it is inadequate.

In some vague sense calibration is, in my work, a kind of paradigm.  (Calibration is at this meta-level and functions critically, or its function is to criticise.  It also works through repetition.  Oddly, perhaps, it is also a type of ‘template,’ in that it is a rule, or set of rules). I discovered, some time ago, that no one had ever written anything about calibration, except in a technical sense.  I suspect that no one has ever written very much about precision, either, except perhaps in a technical sense…  But precision might be a better way of designating the paradigm.  That takes the argument away from tools, away from templates and into an abstract sphere, which must be totally concerned with information, of course…  Information, rules, abstract thought patterns…

“Needs more thought.”

In the newspaper yesterday (‘The Observer,’ which is actually a newspaper ! ) there was a quotation from Richard Feymann.  Some thing like that what is mysterious is not what we can invent, but what is already here.  I think that artists might like to remember this when they make their videos and so on.

‘Precision itself allows that a surface may become detached from the object to which it apparently adheres.’
I have been busy with this notion recently.  In fact I woke up this morning thinking about a very old work (not realised then, but maybe realisable in the near future) which has some thing to do with this.  Strangely, although these works were conceived a very long time ago, they are concerned with ‘different lengths.’  But these differences will not (or should not) amount to anything in terms of the meaning of the works, but amount to some thing in terms of the look of them.  These two aspects therefore separate out…  All slightly odd, in fact.  To be worked on !

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