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Studio updates, current events, and archival posts from 2014-2017.

ABSOLUTE ZERO IN REVIEW

T=0 K: neon, glass, stainless steel, aluminum, GTO, three transformers/concrete blocks, power strip, extension cord | Dylan Neuwirth + Image by Nathaniel Willson © 2015

T=0 K: neon, glass, stainless steel, aluminum, GTO, three transformers/concrete blocks, power strip, extension cord | Dylan Neuwirth + Image by Nathaniel Willson © 2015

The Taoist taijitu’s halves imply a perpetual motion and cycling between opposites that are contained in the perfect circle. It represents the totality of things from which the binary flows. Equilibrium is reached in closed systems (a ripple in water eventually achieves stillness between oscillations of high and low), but these systems are also seeking equilibrium with other forces, and so on, all contained within a perfect unity.

In the west, the reverse is often perceived and presented in dialectic terms, where thesis and antithesis are resolved in synthesis. This unity of opposites is not an immanent origin, but rather a point of arrival, achieved through active reason. Philosophers of this school have codified this tendency in our culture, from the ivory towers to the streets.

This mode is inherently alienating, binary and immovable, posing self/nation/west as thesis and whatever opposes it as antithesis, rarther than admitting to the constant flow of influence between these forces. The same goes for our evolving concept of modernity, whose central concerns (the reconciliation of “progress” and “tradition,” for one) remain unanswered, though we have dubbed ourselves post-post-modern, and such.

I therefore find critical attempts to use the Taijitu in a western dialectic to be forced, sometimes laughable. Neuwirth has, to my mind, created a perfect western variation, more honest to our dialectic mode. It is instantly recognizable, but its stark divides better indicate the more occidental, static binary that yet resolves into a unity. A ripple (as cited above) is itself a symbol of yin and yang at play, moving toward an essential stillness. The balance in Neuwirth’s symbol is between a ripple and stillness, taiji and wuji (nothingness)—to allow myself a simplified appropriation of my own.

Nothing in his statement or the supplemental materials indicates that these concepts were part of his process, but this was the contemplation that followed for me. The despairing noise and haste that more evidently inspired the work follows from the yet unreconciled forces one may see in the symbol, and in presenting it in just this way, Absolute Zero indeed may achieve through its contemplation that desired moment of stillness.
— T. s Flock