The Interobjective Presentation of Disappearance
exhibition review by Márk Horváth
A mű, September 2023
A very specific aspect of the ecological crisis and the Anthropocene is the strange dynamism of perceptible and retreating features. This duality makes the entirety of climate change eerie and difficult to comprehend due to its complexity. Tamas Dezsö’s Coda reveals the hyperobject nature of the Anthropocene through a staggering and compressed presentation of its local manifestations, observing and prioritizing the phenomena of retreating and hiding.
Dezsö reflexively considers the various possibilities of ecological aesthetics within the framework of an ecology which no longer appears as pure nature, but as a defiled, soiled and collapsed reality.
The climate change threatening ancient forests requires an asymmetrical aesthetic approach. A direct consequence of asymmetry is that in a temporal and spatial sense hyperobjects do not adapt to the sensual set-up or abilities of humans, nor to any other living beings. Instead of mutuality and harmony, asymmetry and the disorder of the equilibrium characterise the heterogeneity of the beings.
Shifts, transformations and technological reflections permeate Dezsö’s aesthetic experimentsin relation to the Anthropocene. Instead of anthropomorphous beings, Dezsö draws our attention to the efficacy of things and various beings, pointing out that actors far stronger than anything human are also present around us.
The phenomena referred to as enormous, mega-fires threaten an incomprehensible mass of animal species and ancient trees. The heat of the fire, smoke and the dramatic nature of a catastrophic situation seem to hide from us the alien alterity of the ecological crisis.
Yet the Anthropocene does call our attention to the fact that if not thinking in terms of human perspectives and on the scales of the post-Anthropocene, we can realize that the mass devastation of species and global warming as an eerie zone that cannot be confined locally threaten us all.
In fact, we are all in the dark embrace of the Anthropocene, the threatening and suffocating smoke of megafires makes our usual perceptive mechanisms unsure, like a phantom that is present everywhere. To represent this retracting yet multi-sensual hyperobject requires a diverse artistic approach and multimediality.
Dezsö has created a lyrical work devoted to disappearance and liquidation. The threatening, tormented bird sounds drawn in the calcified remnant of a several-thousand-year-old giant redwood reveal the reaction and suffering of the non-human beings affected by the megafires.
As a minor manifestation of the Anthropocene’s hyperobject which itself is one, the megafire adheres to all the beings of a forest. Via technological conversions the triptych Transcript representsin sound waves the alarm signal of a hundred species of birds living in the forests of the Sierra Nevada and especially threatened by the megafires. Dezsö’s artwork depicts the complexity and inaccessibility of the ecological crisis.
According to the position of Speculative Realism, efficacy cannot be narrowed in any sense, every entity possesses social efficacy and the human being cannot be regarded as a central actor of either society or ontology. Hiddenness, a power that does not reveal itself or is difficult to know can be found everywhere, which affects so many beings.
But what does the word hyperobject mean? It is a conceptual scheme which relates to all the entities which surpass human units of measure. According to Timothy Morton’s concept, all entities can be regarded as hyperobjects which are massively distributed in time and space relative to humans. A hyperobject withdraws from direct contact and only its outward features can be seen.
Dezsö’s works represent the aesthetic appearances of the surface of the Anthropocene as a hyperobject. Yet he does not simplify or reduce the multi-sensual appearances of destruction and elimination to some homogenous apocalyptic tone or uniplanar darkness. On the contrary, the artist points out the heterogeneity of metamorphosis and destruction, in fact the wealth, the multi-faceted feature and complexity of dark ecology (a concept developed by Timothy Morton with reference to an infected, darkened ecology replacing romantic, green nature).
We can only perceive and get close to the various threatened beings if we let their own, non-human narrative exercise an influence.
This post-human aesthetic revelation makes it possible that Coda can simultaneously be majestically soft and infinitely, unreservedly agitating. The two aesthetic, sensual practices work during the exhibition at the same time.
Besides the horrible and staggering noise of the Anthropocene as a hyperobject, its sensually comprehendible surfaces can be soft and personal. Yet the contrary can also be true. The post-humanistic softness of the Anthropocene and the concentrated points of the hyperobject’s complexity can be entirely upsetting and embittering.
The fundamental tone of the exhibition is provided by Landscape, a sound installation createdby Áron Birtalan, György Cséka and Tamas Dezsö, which is an extraordinary remix of the song and alarm cries of birds living in the forests of the Sierra Nevada.
This stirring installation making everyone unsure refers to the interobjectivity of hyperobjects and its extensive post-humanistic temporality via the sound waves that surround and swallow visitors. Hyperobjects are characterised by time awareness, which bends the time structure, turns the future into present, while preserving the past in a distorted manner.
The songs of the already perished birds are not poems or songs of mourning, rather the eerie heralds of the global Anthropocene’s future. Interobjectivity is the most enthralling element of Dezsö’s exhibition from an aesthetic viewpoint. It means that hyperobjects connect to other objects sensually, that is a complex interlocking of aesthetic features characterise spatiality infected by hyperobjects. We can see only certain fragments of hyperobjects since they are able to exercise their effect in many dimensions at the same time. In Coda these elements congregate, but they do not make up a whole. They unite in a simultaneously pleasant and unsure interobjective extension similar to the smoke of fire or noise, whose omnipotent presence draws us in as a malicious, spread phantom and transforms our own perception of reality.
This extensive, aesthetic interobjective zone of cessation no longer intends to represent nature. Far more does it sensitively reveal the complex, hybrid relations characterising the Anthropocene and the threat of dark ecology. Yet this penetration or exhibition makes us unsure and fundamentally changes our usual anthropocentric perspective.
The eerie presence of the multi-sensual artworks in Coda points out that there is no nature that could serve as a counterpoint to representation, an essence intended to be rescued. In other words, no separate green environment that is entirely independent from us exists, only the functionality of the Earth System and the threatening operation of dark ecology exist.
Therefore, no eco-artistic exercise should represent non-existing, idealised nature, but approach Anthropocene ecology in which the arts themselves are included.
Remains of burnt trees, shocking sounds of fleeing birds: fragmented aesthetic manifestations of the Anthropocene as a hyperobject, which still represent the complexity of the Anthropocene due to their eerie zone.
With Dezsö’s exhibition it can be seen that contemporary art must simultaneously turn to levels of reality, beings and objects transformed by the ecological crisis and reveal their asymmetrical relations. Hyperobjects are situated in interobjective space, in a transitional space between objects, and in order to get to know them – even to a limited extent – we must look towards the objects. In the Anthropocene turning to objects discloses frightening and horrifying configurations which endanger even the observer.
Experiencing Coda the threat of the Anthropocene’s future surrounds us in images, sounds and peculiar matters. However, it is not pushy or violent, rather infinite softness can be felt, which can be observed in the artworks at the exhibition. However, the nearly pleasant, beautiful or dark ecological softness is permeated by a penetrant, powerful dynamism and work of music, which turn the whole experience into something strange and staggering.