Abstraction as Noise:  Enhancing the Poetic 


Abstraction in its resistance to evident meaning has the capacity to interrupt or at least provide tools with which to question an overly compliant reception of the information to which we are subject.  It does so by highlighting a latency or potentiality inherent in materiality that points to the possibility of a critical resistance to this ceaseless flow of sound/image/data.  This resistance has been remarked on in differing ways by a number of commentators such as Lyotard, in his exploration of the avant-garde and the sublime for example.


This joint paper will initially map the collaborative project by Daniel Mafe and Andrew Brown, Affecting Interference which conjoins painting with digital sound and animations into a single, large scale, immersive exhibition/installation. The work acts as an interstitial point between contrasting approaches to abstraction: the visual and aural, the digital and analogue. The paper will then explore the ramifications of this through the examination of abstraction as ‘noise’, that is as that raw inassimilable materiality, within which lays the creative possibility to forge and embrace the as-yet-unthought and almost-forgotten. It does so by establishing a space for a more poetic and slower paced critical engagement for the viewing and receiving information or data. This slowing of perception through the suspension of easy recognition runs counter to our current ‘high performance’ culture, and it’s requisite demand for speedy assimilation of content, representing instead the poetic encounter with a potentiality or latency inherent in the nameless particularity of that which is.