Philosophy of Language

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LABYRINTHS AND THE INDECIDABILITY OF CLOSED SYSTEMS

The works of the Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges have inspired a myriad of literary and visual interpretations throughout the last three decades. In the “Philosophy of Language” series I proposed to take a closer look at the structure in which many of his fictions, that of the labyrinth are based, as a way to consider the visual representation of closed systems in general and of language in particular. The series is built on an understanding of language’s self-referential nature and paradoxes, as shown in many of Borges’ stories, which can be also related mathematical ideas, such as the Cantor set theory or the Godel theorem. The works visually reflect and emphasize the self-referential and incomplete nature of closed systems, be them scientific, verbal or visual. In doing so, the works call attention to the ultimate failure to attain completion and consistency and, in the process, proclaim the ultimate undecidability of the systems themselves.

Against the backdrop of Conceptual Art’s proposal of replacing the object spatial and perceptual experience by linguistic definition alone, the series also proposes to take a reverse path by starting with a linguistic entity and rendering it as a sort of parallel visual construction. Using the Borgean labyrinth as a point of departure, the series examines the construction of this figure by building a personal maze with a series of visual superpositions that explore the semiotical parallels between the systems of visual and language representation.

The paintings are constructed using masking tape and following a series of movements. The movements, however, are not exact, nor the pieces of tape uniform. In the building of the figure, the pieces of tape and the spaces in between them articulate and negotiate amongst themselves a number of spatial, textural and chromatic decisions while following a general blueprint. In the process the general direction of helicoidal movements is constantly deconstructed and questioned by the textures, colors, and values of the pieces of tape as well as by their placement in the general arrangement.

The series appears to be but a segment of a potentially larger number of labyrinthical works, which can be read at least at two different levels. On the one hand, each of the individual works can refer to other ones in the series, as in a synchronically ordered series, while, on the other hand, the grouping of the works can call to mind a diachronic order, parallel to a language system. This two-level reading of the works makes possible to propose the existence of a third interpretation or reading, one that views the series itself as a closed system. This third closed system could form what mathematicians would call a Strange Loop, the labyrinth in words and in visual terms working as codes of one another, influencing each other’s readings and proclaiming the ultimate undecidability of the system(s) it(them)self(ves).