Memory of the future
by Francesca Brandes
Things observe us, as Lacan asserts, they guide us. They represent a communicative act, but also its interruption. They are a radical challenge. So it is in the works of Tobia Ravà, in the numerical landscapes we have learnt to recognise, usual and alien at the same time, where the universe discloses itself mysteriously in every instant, along a “calle”, on the border of the wood. That’s why to discuss this stubborn though wise work assumes, from the start, the reconsidering of the foundations of the vision, let us be guided. Here space and time enjoy their own statute, with consequences on the structure of matter which are sometimes disruptive.
Is it a model, the habitual vision in Ravà of Po Valley porches, radiant lagoons and architectures not inhabited by mankind ? Maybe, in some ways, but that model itself ( once created ), is never entirely recognisable , no longer referable to the whole of the elements which compose it.
In the thick weft of signs, it carries hidden properties and the artist delivers, translates, makes that obscure centre visible. As a magghid, the storyteller of tradition, more than as a demiurge – naming things – he reveals the power of future states which we don’t perceive from the surface.
His conception of the world is an atomic one, where – in the extreme smallness of space-time – the extreme depth of every length and the widest extension can be expressed. Every wood is tree, foliage of letters, at the same time tree and horizon, voices, river of traces. The space of objects, guiding us, leaves place to a space-image considered to be itself as an object of representation which generates incessantly . To see inside Ravà’s painting, one needs to abandon any form of prior knowledge. Better, instead, to get accustomed to considering the spatial extension as an entity in constant relation with other subjects which it must contain , and that, in their turn, contain it. In these works, it structures the conditions of the relation between the vision’s different components but, at the same time, is defined by them. In short, it is an element of the model, but it could also be intended as the other way round.
The image in Ravà strays compared to the classical metaphors of space in art; more, it generates an extraordinary short circuit between the diverse conceptions. If the scene – the perspective panorama, the clearness of the point of view – in Ravà authorises a glittering and focused seduction strategy , the maze of marks seems to accentuate the temporal distance, the attachment to an ancient tradition. It is the darkness of the hidden thread, that doesn’t reveal the evident. Nevertheless, and this is the first spark, between the two extreme poles the artist finds room for a different reading. Beyond the geometrical model ( explicit) and the algebraic one ( apparently implicit ), a third meaningful metaphor is found, one of wandering and symbol carrying interpretation, one of interaction . Given that every interaction (time-spatial, objective-subjective) implies the necessity to mediate and reassemble, then Ravà’s letters and numbers – that fascinating tissue that leads back to the essence – appears not as an unilateral assertion, but (more prolific view) as a transient code..
The number which is itself and other than itself, that modifies the image’s connecting tissue and attributes it with symbolic values, establishes an isomorphic trace, i.e. transforms life retaining the initial information. In exact sciences, one usually refers to isomorphism when two complex structures can apply one to the other, therefore they can match (we could say interact) in such a way that for any part on each there is a match in the other. Such definition suits Tobia’s work, it is a credit to its biological strength, to the fascination of its being a living plant. It is the landscape that flows through time on the canvas, with all the features of the wander, as if it carried the voice of those Hebraic signs, the reality of their symbolic assignment . Moreover, it is also, as if such landscape was isomorphic to its own future, as if it carried its germs. So space itself, in these works, becomes a symbolic, hybrid form, without ceasing however to represent a place of existence. Memory adheres to the unknowable through the passing of symbols, according to reoccurring ways (and not in sequential or hierarchical terms) that often remind, in substance, the musical dictate. An echo of Shepard’s paradox may help : different parallel scales are played in the position of different octaves, but each note must be performed with an intensity that changes as the scale proceeds. Therefore each note expresses an intensity proportional to its area, and this brings the whole to an equilibrium : a fluid situation that avoids – as in Ravà’s works – the iconic stillness of a finished expression.
There is more. Time can adapt to the infinite smallness of duration and in its middle – by the hand of Tobia – the game is generated, a figure of rediscovered eternity in the irony of wise toads, alimentary nonsense, object of non-use, vases storied by a rutilant and precise tale. The artist’s conceptual and possibilistic numbers always show the way, sometimes with the levity of witz, in an upbeat process that doesn’t diminish its eagerness, but makes us slightly more innocent.
The viaticum is fundamental. A memory which is future (Moebius ring and not descending spiral) brings with it immense possibilities: alter coordinates, above all transforms without losing anything.
All such, it is intended, imposes a high index of faithfulness and coherence (both ethic and aesthetical), a constant and vigilant control level. It is in this way that the artist obtains complexity, by using the hidden power of things, even the simplest. The memory of the everyday yet to come guides us to an autonomous awareness , as if we deciphered (or even better, as if we knew) meaningful Dna, behaviour tesserae, stories. Here there is room to compose a world with another, Ravà’s interaction code and the dream of Algerian Abdallah Khaled, until we melt memory with memory, tomorrow with tomorrow.
It is much easier to capture sparks. This is also a hope hidden in the roots, a promise. Once more, a pact.