The under-determination in Polyxene Kasda’s work

The under-determination in Polyxene Kasda’s work
by Mariana Zikou, art historian, Stoa tou Vivliou 2/6/2016 Athens

I will try to develop some thoughts on the writings of Poly Kasda in relation to one of her first books 'The Conscious Eye' and her latest one 'When that word swallowed me'. The two will be linked with an epistemological concept, the 'under-determination' and an allegory, the Kafkaesque Burrow.

Dr. Yannis Almyrantis presented an intriguing approach with his essay “The over-determination in Poly Kasda’s work”. The present essay reflects on its antithetical term, the 'under-determination' in Kasda’s work.

Within the frame of this presentation ‘under-determination’ is used with a double interpretation, employing the prefix under- (in greek hypo-):
On one hand, under-determination is an epistemological concept which challenges the univocal approach of experience. In this sense, it is considered impossible for an experience to be fully interpreted through a single axiom. This thinking is reflected in Gödel's incompleteness theorem and can be extended to Derrida's philosophical term of ‘deconstruction’, which refers to the infinite experience of language, but also to the impasse of its meaning.

Under-determination is transcribed in the work of Poly Kasda as scattered traces of language, objects, performances, gatherings, as well as other manifestations like TV shows, buildings and new media, which may reveal or conceal the true meaning, the core of her objectives. A core attracting into its orbit scientific theories of computational and cognitive science along with the philosophical and applied concepts of experience.

'The Conscious Eye', one of the first books of Poly Kasda, is associated with the epistemological interpretation of under-determination. Poly Kasda initiates a genuine and systematic exploration of the human experience and the cognitive processes that transpire the works of artists and the artistic movements of the 20th century. The human eye is used as an interface, the eye becomes a quasi-mechanical component tool which creates a tube between the inner and outer reality topology.

The book starts with two questions 'So what happened to many artists and they stopped painting? What lies behind this silence that took so many strange forms?' To these questions Poly Kasda creates insightful conceptions, linking scientific theories and technologies with artistic methods and the philosophical discourse.
However, in the preamble of the book she already shows her awareness of under-determination: 'This essay on the essence of contemporary art and visual perception is just the tip of the iceberg'. In the last pages of the book, she outlines the collapse of certainty, the decay of conventional structures and with it, the withdrawal of words.

These comments lead the way to the second interpretation of the term under-determination, into the creative-experiential extension of the term, which can be connected to Poly Kasda’s new book 'When that word swallowed me'.
The book is ushering us in a wild exploration into what is under, below the territory of the visible and of the reassuring semiology, into the aniconic fields of artistic experience and ambiguity, of the collapse of the subject and ultimately the collapse of the text into sub-texts, in word-symbols that burst further into glyphs, into the smallest cracking units of language, to become objects and anti-texts, no-texts, precipitated in a submersive trip into the substrates of language, the hypothalamus of experience and into the sub-liminal of perception.

The deep dive begins; a persistent recollection towards the core of the experience described in 'When that word swallowed me', in which she notes: 'After the completion of The Conscious Eye, I was left again with this Something Essential Missing, this SEM sensation'.
The course of the next 25 years would open up the topoi for the emergence of the iceberg, an intense immersion to the core of cognition and experience. A striking, persistent and productive exploration which often anticipates the developments in technology and cognitive science, such as through her artistic project Myth/Network, where Kasda composes an ideography of the web before its spreading.

At the same time, these explorations in the other side of reasoning, in the twilight of experience and of deconstructed meaning, had their impact. In 'When that word swallowed me', Kasda reveals that her essay 'Pyrisporos' which followed 'The Conscious Eye', disturbed and chased away the audience she had gained with the latter.
As she continues her research into the philosophical discourse of computational and cognitive science, her visionary leaves her at times without applied scientific and theoretic tools. She then resorts to alleged scientific axioms and data, some of which evolve later as validated concepts, while others swing for now and maybe forever between the exo-logical, the alchemy and the myth. Kasda will not renounce them as useful tools, stating: 'But is there any other way? Those fantastic things that are directly seen by the soul are formulated by the intellect as an absence; a dense omission from which words return baffled'.

From then on, although her creative and exploratory course continue intensively, she will start consciously and methodically concealing their true essence. In 'When that word swallowed me’, she confesses the creation of a 'self-sustaining shelter' which takes the form of a woolen cocoon: '...I started knitting around me a borderless blanket. It was gradually growing from inside itself, mounting on the walls, towering above me like a wave swallowing me in its cocoon-like embrace'.
This hermetic structure can find its counterpart in an allegorical architecture, the Burrow of Kafka, one of his last texts that remained unfinished. The Kafkaesque edifice can be interpreted as the agitated strive of an individual to safeguard her safety and integrity, when disclosing the erebus of one's own personal experience.
As if in a discoursive relationship with the Kafkaesque creature residing in its underground dark maze construction, Poly Kasda writes: 'On the ordinary level I was protecting my delicate experiment from the unexamined eyes, shielding it behind palatable, easy to digest descriptions. I knew that if it were contaminated by doubt, the whole structure would crumble…'.

This fragile and intimate revelation, along with her uncompromising determination to continue sinking in the profound substrates of the inner self, destined to be the cornerstones for the creation of her allegorical biomatic narrative 'When that word swallowed me' and ultimately, the symbolic collapse of her Kafkaesque shelter.
Kasda's short autofiction marks an epitome of the research in the profound and unfathomed realms of human experience and imaginary through artistic practice; a possible invitation also for us, to challenge the emergence of our own minds' uncharted topoi. The 'Conscious Eye' continues its quest into the most elusive, controversial and intra-real dimensions of its existence.

Athens 19.7.2016

Poly Kasda's compact bionote: 
to be and not to be. Aye this is the question!

Her main Project Myth/Network -1990-2015- is a scattering matrix of interweaved sub-projects emerging from depth psychology and multi-plexing in: 
- Dispersive cosmonautic installations: Chrysalis 1990 in 300 loci 27 countries, Fugue 1996-2005- giant Fibonacci structure anchored in 5 distant sites (University Lucian Blaga Sibiu Romania Silver Honorary Medal), Doodling interludes 1985-2016, S-matrix fluidity, perturbations of a probabilistic mind inserted in 13 cultural events 7 countries ( 3rd Beijing Biennial 2008, DESIGN House of Cyprus Athens 2009, Munster Night of Museums, Germany 2014 et al), PXK global fossil 2004-2015- anchored in 25 loci  (2nd Beijing Biennial, 3rd Tashkent Biennial, Nuit Blanche 07 Paris et.alOlympic Fine Arts Beijing Golden Medal 2008)
- Affective maps of spectral Greece 1994-1996-2011- on the contagious effect of spectral space background hum on our cognitive system (auspices-collaboration: European Poetry Network, Belgium, Poetry Biennial of Alessandria, Italy)
- Code Lexomorphes 1991-2015, Speaking sculptures and cryptographic linguistic games (conference on Greek language, Old Parliament of Athens, Chamber of Visual Arts of Greece 2009, Silver Honorary Medal) 
Uraniasgardens 2009-2015 Cultural Botanology, Agro-psycho-SAGA projects in culturally gagged sites of Greece: Gargling Sky 2009, Village art constellation in Gergeri Crete, PAI 2010 transborder work on Time, Evros- Bulgaria, The Samothrace Game 2011 an aleatory parcours exercise in antinomic thinking- Pith Elevoron 2014 on botanology and madness in Antikyra Boetia, Sphinx, Festival of Hidden Thebes 2015 on the contagious effect of spectral space (outgrowth of Miorita, Melusina and the Sphinx landscape /legends telecommunications project exchange in culturally unexamined Europe, selected by Arsenic for  the for the cultural capitals of Europe). Collaboration: Athens School of Fine Arts. Auspices: Greek Ministry of Culture..

By pattern-setting and monitoring her projects, she cultivates the conceptual/ sensorial soil for her art objects to sprout and provides the authentic material for her self-reflexive narrative articles, research-documentaries on the cognitive shift in Modern Art:  Greek National Radio television Trito Vima,  audio magazine  1988-89,  Paraskinio  TVdoc The Adventures of the Eye,  1986 and for her 
cross-disciplinary essays The Conscious Eye Aigokeros Athens 1988 (Greek), Pyrisporos (Ibid), Pai  published in French, Flemish, Romanian, by The Seven Sleepers (Leuvain) co-ed. Uni. Lucian Blaga Press (Sibiu) 1997 (Frankfurt International Bookfair), in Italian by Poesia e Spiritualita review (Milan) and  in Greek by Tyflomyga Athens 2003, When that word swallowed me allegorical narrative, Sphinx, The Hidden Thebes Festival syn. Poesia e Conoscenza review Milan 2016 (Greek and English), Artificial Intelligence Professor John Kontos needles Poly Kasda’s Conscious Eye, Notios Anemos, Amazon 2015 (English),

her first illustrated poetic book was Zone of Silence (Voyatzis Athens 1978). Her early poetry was awarded 3 Golden Medals by the French Academy of Poets and a Grand Prix International de Poesie by the Cercle International de la Pensee et des Arts Francais. 

As Poly Casdas, her early paintings are in private collections.

She graduated in Psychology- Sociology B.A. ACG, Athens, studied Chemistry-Physics in A.U.C Cairo, had 7 years apprenticeship in visual arts in S. Hermann's workshop, Besancon institute, Alexandria.. 

 IAA UNESCO artist, member of the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece, editor in Greece for Poesia e Conoscenza review (Milan), member of OFAA (Finland) and MOFAA (Beirut) Associations of Golden Medalists, member of the jury of K-Droz Paris contests..

Her main drive to create springs from SEM or that Something Essential Missing, as she calls “this heroic conscient quasi-element engrailed in our human unconscious, retroactively charged with our entelechy, that makes its presence felt by the merciless attraction of its own void..”

*Project Myth/Network was launched in the Museum of Modern Art of Joensuu, Meeting of the Worlds, PAND conference, Finland 22-6-1990. 

Archives: Project Myth/Network: emst.gr/gr/collections National Museum of Modern Art archives code 1595. Donation: Xagoraris 1991.

"it all started with my threshold performance on the altar that surfaced in the bottom of the lake of Mornos hit by drought in 1990. My 25 years long project Myth/Network that followed was the trace in actual time of that immersive instant ritual, in the deep interface of liturgical /actual time...".

"Under-determination is transcribed in the work of Poly Kasda as scattered traces of language, objects, performances...which may reveal or conceal the true meaning, the core of her objectives. A core attracting into its orbit scientific theories of computational and cognitive science along with the philosophical and applied concepts of experience".

Mariana Ziku, art historian, Under-determination in poly Kasda's work, Stoa tou Vivliou, 2/6/2016 Athens