As Massumi states: “There are uses of language that can bring that inadequation between language and experience to the fore in a way that can convey the ‘too much’ of the situation – its charge – in a way that actually fosters new experiences.”3 Belgian artist Tom Hillewaere exemplifies this unique attempt in the most delicate of ways in his installation Valse Sentimentale. Set to the haunting sound of Tchaikovsky’s Valse Sentimentale, interpreted by Clara Rockmore on the Theremin, Hillewaere’s piece offers a white balloon attached to a simple black marker on a string. Surrounded by fans, the balloon oscillates lightly across a large white surface upon which the balloon traces simple lines as it traverses the space. As we watch the movements of the balloon, we soon become aware that we easily invest in its quiet communication on paper and the balloon is soon personified as we wait anxiously for its next stroke of the pen. This poetic expression, one of the forms of language to which Massumi refers as potentially transformative, leaves trails of existence, those small signs of our personal convictions that can be beautiful markers of our engagement with the world. In this case, the joy we feel in seeing someone’s (something’s) personal experience being left behind, marks us and goes beyond the introspective, distanced approach to the aesthetic moment.
Our personal narratives are built by the moments that affect us and the memories we carry with us thanks to the intensity of experiences. Affect connects us to other people and other places. It heightens our sense of belonging. Investing in something, believing in a moment, however short it may be, and the lingering consequences of these moments, form our core belief systems and affect the potential of all subsequent moments of our lives. And as Massumi proposes: “Maybe if we can take little, practical, experimental, strategic measures to expand our emotional register, or limber up our thinking, we can access more of our potential at each step, have more of it actually available. Having more potentials available intensifies our life.”4 And these critical instances of deeply experiencing an experience commit us to the moment, asserting a sense of belonging in the present and a strong feeling of connection to the potential of the next.
(Jan Schuijren, Angela Plohman: Spuren des Nächsten)
Tom Hillewaere, BE 2006, installation, timber, ventilators, balloon, pen, sound
Courtesy the artist