If I had a thesis, it might go something like this: this entire array of marks recalls for me nothing if not a form of testing, taking the measure of some figure, some imprint—a type or typos—, at the very moment that it separates, lifts itself off from its surround.
“Let us not forget that the painter’ s brushstroke is terminated. We are faced here with something that gives a new and different meaning to the term regression—we are faced with the element of motive in the sense of response, insofar as it produces, behind it, its own stimulus.” 1
The moment of seeing—the gesture about to be terminated, arrested—that’ s how both Sally Späth and Josh Thorpe open; each gesture, each application of pigment could bes aid to be in harmony with itself, which is to say that at the level of form, its contour, its outline, is in strict accord with its design, its program.
If the gesture means to stop us in our tracks, its force of effect coming only at the end ofthe stroke, the blow interrupted, can we not follow, belatedly, back up the line, the arc ofits trajectory understood as pure extension? With Späth, however, the stroke declines; it always comes around in an attempt to relate to itself.
But what if this fascinum (terminal point) has no regard for those of us who stand to it? What if in feigning penetration (does its punctum not aim for the heart?), it relates only in order to withdraw all relation? I’ m thinking of Späth’ s strokes, each of which, in coming to completion, exhausts itself as it runs down, as it counts down or counts off time in an effort to turn back on itself before it fades: aphanisis of the mark, its fading or its disappearance. Thus here, in each instance, the figure, the mark, in (re)turning to itself, falls to, dies into, the surround; it becomes, in its turn, nothing but surround.
In the case of Josh Thorpe’ s “ sticks,” we could say that such rigid extensions function as proxies of the principal support. As detachable representatives, they are often found propped against a display surface as if in need of some assistance: propping as an indication perhaps of an inherent infirmity, a lack of stance as it were. But one should not underestimate the point of contact to or from which the pigments flow, even as a similar diffusion—the fading or loss of one colour into its other, the other as a delegate of the ground—plays itself out along the span of each extension.
A question then of the mode of presentation. In either case—Späth’ s or Thorpe’ s—it’ s less a question of accepting the inadequacies of some finite presentation (the failure to finish, to round itself off in a finished type) than of acknowledging that “ which does not have to be presented,” of what cannot be finished, rendered as complete unto itself. Call it ap-presentation, the prefix in this case being marked only insofar as it is spaced: “ presentation” as the spacing (out) of sense.2
1. Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis, trans. Alan Sheridan (NewYork and London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1977), p 114.
2. Jean-Luc Nancy, A Finite Thinking, ed. Simon Sparks (Standford: Stanford University Press, 2003), pp 211–244.