This will kill that...The book will kill architecture" Victor Hugo
This morning I saw that Magnus had meticulously transformed an entire Sunday edition into a vast array of buildings. In their disorderly manner, the towers captured something of the infinite dis-arrangement characteristic of cities. His instinctive habits had systematically refused the grammatical rigor of text and opted instead for a material city composing randomness, the weight of dried ink, blank paper, air. And I wondered to myself, "Magnus is obviously an alchemist, but can he read?"
In the room, there is a another construction of towers. It becomes clearer that the primary alchemic material is time. More precisely, the dates on newspapers, exposing the fact of their instantaneous expiration at the moment of printing. He takes first expired time, carefully archived into blocks of time sedimented and then time compressed, as the tower grows. It becomes subject to geologic time, a time slowly eroded; released again from it's trapped layers with the movement of water. Time which has been flowing downwards with the direction of gravity, also vaporizes upwards. Time ephemeral: expressing the paradox between its discrete instantaneity and continuous equality. The kinetic time is harvested as time fossilized; evidenced as a vegetal growth. Slowly distilled by the cellular necessities of plants, time decomposed and time released, silently, back into the air, for breathing.
Meticulously and systematically cataloging the incalculable, Magnus is working against the printing press. His machine makes noises in the background: a constant hum of artificial light and hissing of water released from pressurized pipes. The kinesthetic machine is also a breathing apparatus, carnivorous and regurgitating, it's preserving the instantaneous moment of time in transformation, time passing.
Standing there within the humid bowels of this strange machine, three archaic islands are forming. They are flat universes, and a square edge beyond which circulates a flourescent etherized mist. The surface evolves, corrupted by time to form minature landscapes, gradualy erasing the meaning of the words. The islands however are also towers. And the tower, represents iconographically the triumph of man over nature, specifically over its most pervasive force- gravity. These towers bring to mind a painting of the Tower of Babel ( I believe it's by Brueghel), in which even as the tower is being constructed, spiraling upwards, decay is already following from its base. The cultivation of these newspaper piles seems to evoke the same inevitability and irreversibility.
So perhaps Magnus is a modern day Don Quxiote, but one obstinately recognizing the true materiality of time beneath a world built up of signs. For the illiterate man, the world may be simpler, a more stablized ground; vertigineous only in the way it presents as a fixed point, a non-relativistic, counter-progressive place from which to measure. He describes himself as the "living art museum". An apparant paradox, but a necessary one. His activity is inertial, content with preserving himself and stablizing the motions of his surrounding society, through an elegant inability[refusal?] to read. Magnus's activities are not conceptual, they are not abstract; we might call it a "non-abstract art", whatever that means. The only things I permit myself to wonder about Magnus, is which reflection is he? Is he Cervantes the author or his own "ingenious hidalgo" the invented? ..perhaps the delusional Don Quxiote or his squire, the disbelieving Sancho Panza?