mark fell





Extensionless thought points

computer generated light and sound, devil's arse cave, abandon normal devices festival, castleton 2017.

Photo by Chris Foster

Extensionless thought-point is a term used by the cultural theorist Peter Sloterdijk, It critically refers to the belief that we are essentially minds, and that each of us occupy a distinct and singular point in metaphysical space. For many this belief is exceptionally controversial: cognitive neuroscience for example rejects this view, arguing instead that people are fundamentally interconnected processes; similarly philosophical phenomenology stresses that we are ultimately physically embedded beings and clearly not isolated from our surroundings.

For me the idea that we are isolated points in mental space is closely connected to beliefs about music, time and technology. In fact most of my work is a critical response to this stubborn and problematic belief. The invention of perspective in visual art by Italian renaissance artists and mathematicians, the development of the linear musical score by Catholic monks... both reinforce the belief that we are singular points in hypothetical space, both construct a singular point (in space or time) where we “are”… and we are definitely nowhere else.

The belief that we occupy infinitely narrow points in space and time shares some features with Dirac Delta function, a mathematical construct that has a value of zero everywhere apart from a value of infinity at a single point. Ironically this function, although impossible in reality, if turned into a sound would theoretically be an ideal way to map the acoustic character of physical spaces. When we hear a balloon burst for example, what we actually hear is the response of the environment to a sound that is exceptionally narrow in the time dimension, and exceptionally wide in terms of frequency content, a kind of crude approximation of the Dirac Delta… the extensionless point.

Anyway, the work here isn't really about any of this, but it does reflect my preoccupation with these shapes and themes, and in particular their contrast to the extended oblate spheroid - the shape of the earth. In this work, I transplant these hypothetical shapes and ideas into the cave.

Mark Fell, 2017

© mark fell, modified February 11, 2019, at 01:52 PM PST edit print