Music for the eyes


Music for the eyes
Clara Garí i J.M. Berenguer

This gentleman who believes he says does not say, that he sings, this poet
that tells the rondaia, does not count that sings it, that source is not
source that is symphony, that note is not a message that is one
Me, they are not eyes, nor horses, nor scorpions nor ditches; they are nocturnal,
madrigals, serenades, boleros and romances …
this story is virolai:

– Mademoiselle, allow me to help her.
– You really care about him, gentleman?
– Miss, I would take her to Khartoum.
– And back?
– Casablanca, Rabat, Constantinople, Eritrea,
Thessaloniki, Vienna …
– And back?
– Love is not zurüch, fräulein, but if we like it, we could
play it on roulette
– Oh!

Comes Fly Vienna Violet Waltzes Candle Sweet wine.
… They had many children.

“Having stolen the will
This delirium of this love so mine
Recovered already to calmness and good sense
I returned from Madrid on the express train “

It was not so, nor was it from Campomanes.
Campeador, Bell Gold, Campoamor …

“Le roi de Thulé …
jamais on ne le vit plus boire … “

It was not so, nor was it from Lamartine
Perceval, cheval, Nerval …

Neckar, Neckar, means black?
Neckar sounds good to me, sounds good …
it means river
Rhin, Berlin, Hölderlin.

Text of the diptych Music for the eyes. H2O Gallery. Barcelona 1996

Kevin Power


I think that the main purpose of the theory can be the concentration of attention in a given area – to provide a favorable context for one’s own work. I like the observation of Vantorgerloo: “Things must be addressed through sensitivity rather than by understanding …”; and this is very much accepted from Vantorgerloo, since he is very far from being against understanding (I think) – his paraphrase of obligation “to have” understands it as “duty” because the world is like that and we too.

Letter from Ian Hamilton Finlay to Pierre Garnier

It is difficult to believe that there should be music in the world: these certainties against universally uncertain things, this orderly well-being, the confusion of random noise.

William Bronk: Life Supports

When we look at the delicate and suggestive series of collages by J.M.Calleja, we are inevitably wondering if they should be read as scores or as poems. Maybe both of them follow, but, in any way, they are lyrical presences. They create their own maximum! See silence: feel sound. To feel silent: to see sound I have referred to this series with the name of “lyrical presences”, but a more appropriate term could be that of “lyrical values”, in the sense that these images serve as vectors of desire or emotion. They have this part of the individual that is never finished and that is endless – a project that is always on the way to completion. These images are not only stained with their poetic power, but they depend on it. You have to understand them, perhaps paradoxically, as the failure to articulate the internal connection of your propositions. Once again, he should clarify the use of the term “failure” and then use “reluctance”. In other words, this series of works could be defined as lyrical intrusions.

In these collages, J.M.Calleja leaves logical, and even illogical, spaces in the spaces of his thoughts, and it is precisely this absence that constitutes the poetic power of the series. Occasionally, silence can be more important than sound. The blank spaces of the score speak at the same time of the immanence of meaning, the loss of meaning and the impossibility of meaning. I remember the profoundly moving words of American poet George Oppen, when he said that poetry should have been protein. He must “write the perception of one, do not discuss the belief of one”.

In my critical essays I constantly quote the observation of another American poet, Robert Duncan, who categorically asserted that collage is the main language of the last part of this century. And I conceived the Collage here as something produced by the law of contiguity rather than artificial aesthetic resources. I am referring to the fact that we live the collage whether: we walk Timer Square in New York, or when we do zapping on our television sets. I just returned from Belgium where I had the chance to see the T.V. Cable an extreme collage case. One of the images shows everything that happens in the thirty-four stations of the cable in miniature. You can stay and have fun, or suffer from multiple bombardment, or you can select any channel that gives you more. The work of J.M.Calleja participated only tangentially in the collage condition of postmodernism, since in essence it is reductionist, poetic and discreet. Lyricism, the most intense subjectivism, remains in the middle of his speech. He prefers to take advantage of the ambiguity of the index rather than allowing things to happen. However, he sees the vocabulary of philosophical admiration as the consequence of signs and events. This sense of admiration undoubtedly does not depend on the imperatives of logic and discourse. J.M.Calleja creates a space where this known and unknown is touched, thus orienting itself towards a complex area, and even contradictory of thoughts and feelings. The use of the staff can be understood metaphorically, such as the rise of a class of mental structure where the collage element superimposed reveals that there is no way in which thought and emotion can finally be maintained. Expressing it differently, the phenomena of the world enter and change everything.

The collage element or elements is the image that reacts and danced on the background that gives it shape. As such, it becomes a place of tension and resistance, antipaties and sympathies. Fleet in the middle of the score as a kind of metaphorical affirmation. J.M.Calleja may be implicating with this that, as well as the metaphorical statement captures his metaphorical meaning among the ruins of the literal sense, he also obtains his reference on the ruins of what could be called his literal reference. These works are full of images that are both what they are and other things more: a RENFE ticket with what appears to be a stain of coffee on top (1); the image of the face of a woman that flies over a monochrome rectangle; a pack of Camel with two playing cards, a piece of a house in a landscape, a list of names of musicians and the fragment of a map of a city; the label of a packet of “we are” with the rooster that sings a series of words, whose syllabic beginning is the noun “bird”; a piece of scratched film that crosses the score vertically; a traffic signal that means the danger of passing through, facing another signal that means unique direction, an impulse towards the front that is supported, at least momentarily, by a question mark incorporated in the middle of the arrow; schematic drawings of a cow, a sheep, and a pig with their bodies cut into numbered segments that define the cuts of meat placed under a blood-stained or mud-colored rectangle (2); a piece of paper showing a gentleman pulling his hat, juxtaposed with the lining of a lump of sugar from Krumm coffee that could suggest the cup of coffee of the lady (3); a page carved out of a text in English with three black frames that trigger optical jumps, causing the eye to swing around the image; a tribute to Miró where the lyrics of the same word are used to remember the artist’s black graphics; a pen placed in the middle of a page carved in French – a page that maintains its irregular rectangular shape, but where the elements have been changed, or their order has been altered (4); a packet of inverted labels of Camel packages with the only presence of the animal – the stairs may appear as a series of gums (5); a pencil that sheds the word silence; an image as if it were a newspaper, and an illustration (a man reading a score on a hill on Sarajevo) inserted into a text about the survivors who fled the city after three years of absurd and bitter wait. Therefore, one can conclude, after all these descriptions, that the score becomes a place of recreation for impulses and emotions – a fixed place where these impulses and emotions can be registered- (6).

Some of these collages can be read with a quick smile, while others play with our cultural memory; Some of them play with nostalgia for travel and memory, and others are handled almost incongruously within a political context. But finally, such categorization efforts fail us and we return to the structure of the score as the framework for the game of ambiguity and for a sophisticated and light touch. It was Walter Benjamin who spoke of the “image” as the “final moment of semantic theory”. He tells us that “when the thought stops suddenly in a configuration full of tension, it gives, in the configuration, an impact that crystallizes into a mob.” Using almost the same terms, George Oppen, the poet I have already mentioned, points out: “in the meaning of the world stops, but it is illuminated.” The poet in his poetic task, and with the visual collage, becomes a very effective thing in that sense, as he performs a “archangel of the moment.” These collages make surprise collisions.

Undoubtedly, every poetry is an aggression: the syntax and the way in which reason numbs imaginatively (Yeats argument), make up a design about us. Its lyrical function is to break and release the sclerotic supports of our mind. The desire to give birth a lyrical moment is placed in the middle of the work of J.M.Calleja. I am referring to the moment when there is an exhibition of the discontinuities of a process of thought that tries to complete itself. The least interesting pieces are, in my opinion, those who suddenly declare themselves and do not leave any space in mind or in the eye to go through it and to participate in what we might call, in an inaccurate way, the creation of “meaning”. We must now remember the use made by Derrida of Kant’s appealing formula while witnessing the imagination of the work: “The freedom of imagination consists precisely in the fact that it can be schematised without having a concept.” And more explicitly, Derrida observes: “the notion of an Idea or an” internal design “as something just before a work … is a prejudice … of traditional criticism called idealist.” In my opinion, this statement gives us not only a useful warning but also a useful point of access for understanding the processes and attitudes that remain behind these works. Anyway, I would like to develop a meaningful grade that can be either a consideration or a correction on Derrida’s point of view. These works represent not only the game of difference, but they are intimately related, and even inaugurated by the inscription of J.M.Calleja himself in the midst of visual turbulence.

Throughout the history of post-structuralist criticism, “I” has suffered several attacks. Even Foucault called for the death of the author who supposedly meant the end of subjectivity, and would move towards the manifest reference of the surface on the bottom in the most recent art. I believe that with these changes of attitude about the role and meaning of “I” we are in the face of one of the triumphs of postmodernist criticism. The recognition of new emerging subjectivities has been highlighted, where “I” is possibly understood not as an egocentric figure, but as a generous figure or, more radically, understood as a nexus through which the Events. JMCalleja is a “self” of great capacity and generosity – a singer who knows perfectly well that we live in a world where “things” come together constantly, they are scouring or coming, they are momentarily in contact with each other, They exchange information, and often continue. To him, he loves the mute freak of an idea, an image, a feeling. Their collages play among them and take advantage of the borders between abstraction and reality. J.M.Calleja frames things happily in the space of not knowing – a lack of knowledge that becomes generative in a known way.
Allow me to move from interpretation to contextualization. The collages of J.M.Calleja historically contravene a debt and palpable nostalgia with avant-garde experimentation. At first sight, it seems that the debt continues with Cubism or Futurism, but it is clear that nostalgia is more related to what some of us see as the last manifestation of experimentalism during the Fifties and sixties through Poetry Concrete, Sonora Poetry, Visual Poetry, and all the ramifications of Fluxus. The line between Fluxus and Conceptual art in the sixties, can effectively provide the line between modernist and postmodernist attitudes. This is not a broken line, but nevertheless it remains a utensil for criticism. JMCalleja’s decision to get rid of the image in a score immediately brings a lot of memories that include: 1000 Symphonies or Symphony No. 48 by Dick Higgins, Alphabet Symphony by Emmet Williams, John Cage’s Southern Studies, Destroyed Musicde Milan Knizak, and above all, Score of Takehisa Kosugi, which consisted simply of the musical structure without any written note.

During these years a pursuit of this was persecuted that in principle was the idea conceived of the randomness. Boulez decided to put in series any musical composition parameters, not only the tones as in Schoenberg’s idea, but also in the dynamics, in the time, and in everything. He made a piece that sounded as random as Cage’s piece, but, in any case, he continued without being totally resolved. In fact, Schoenberg had told us that he would take images of a kind of structure that was still not full of notes, and then he could get the sense of seeing how this structure would appear. The tribute of J.M.Calleja to musicians such as Webern, Berg, and Schoenberg gives an accurate account of their debts with the searches of these composers about new ways of composing.

Fluxus directly proposes an attitude to the reality in which the author, or the sense of self and the investigation of his desire, is the model. At the end, the writing is, in fact, the event. The poem has no other way of existing there, except for this meaning. As I have previously suggested, J.M.Calleja goes further, addressing the lyrical background so that their images can be converted into places of whisper, in connotation meetings, in tension meetings.

Poetry is always a music class. The first experience we have in the world is probably the sound. In a similar way, it can be argued that algebraic formulas are also joints of sound forms in time. Just read the work of Rene Thom to see this. According to him, mathematics are a universal language. The numbers have sounds. We have these forms in space, in time, and in permanent chaos, in formulas, in design; although Thom seems to suggest that maybe everything is a game, and all we can do is handle the chips and pretend that there is some type of order. J.M.Calleja constantly places its collage elements in a chaotic way within the structure of the score. They are comfortable in the midst of uncertainty, as if they escorted, as Chaos Theory does now, that the same chaos has its own system of order. However, the images of JMCalleja are not related capriciously, but they accumulate their own around a field of suggestions that confront each other.

The period between the fifties and the sixties focused once again on avant-garde sound poetry. Text-sound art abounded during the seventies at the time the texts were to be sound, and in this way they were listened to be read, in contrast to those texts that were written and then they had to be seen. Text-sound art is different from the sound-text art we find closest to music and, therefore, is closer to the musical condition. To be a little more accurate, it is through the non-melodic auditory structures for which the language or the verbal sounds are poetic loaded with meanings or resonances that they could not otherwise have. The most appropriate generic term for the initial materials would be “words,” for example, a word considered more like a unit of sounds or letters than a unit of meaning. Since text-sound is an “intermittent” between art related to language or music, creators of this type of art are artists that were initially established as “artists”, “poets”, “Composers”, and “painters”. Many of these artists also develop the art of word-image (or visual poetry) as part of their commitment to exploring the possibilities of literary “intermittent”.

The text-sound term characterizes the language, the main means of which consistency is, above all, sound, and not syntax or semantics -where sounds made by comprehensible words create their own coherence together with the denotative meanings. Although superficially playful, text-sound art is in charge of thinking about the possibilities of vocal expression and communication; It represents not a substitute for language, but an expansion of our verbal powers. He goes back to the primitive song and uses an eccentric vocal tradition, embodied by the Sprechgesang of Schoenberg, where he sees that he sings performing a note but does not keep his tone during the enunciation of the word. The phrase of Kruchenyk can be recalled in the rearguard of the Russian Revolution: “The word is more extensive than its meaning.”

Of course, I have diverted myself slightly from the subject, since Calleja’s work is much more related to Visual poetry than with Sonora poetry. However, I would like to point out the fact that many of these artists are deeply committed to the wide range of intermediate explorations – the subject that lies between poetry and painting, between poetry and music, and between sculpture and music. The work of J.M.Calleja Fuga, consists of a circle of sand, and in the middle a lectern with a book made of part empty spaces Play with the connotations of the musical form and the flight.

Concrete poetry is not a simple return to the poem as a picture, as is called Apollinaire’s Caligrams or Alice’s Mice’s Mice in the Wonderland, or the permutable poems of the Kabbalists, or to the poems organized by design of the Babylonians During the classical moment of Concert poetry in the early fifties, the visual element in the poem was, above all, structural – a consequence of the poem -. Since then, many of his followers have been more intrigued by this “intermediate” (which is the meeting of various media in the same poem) to which I have referred. For the founders of the movement, the visual element was an “image” of the energy lines of the work itself, and not a thing merely referring to the texture. It was a poetry that was above paraphrase, a poetry that many times demanded to be completed or activated by the reader, was a direct presentation poetry that used semantic, visual, and phonetic elements of language as if they were unpolished materials, rarely used This way. As Emmet Williams said: “It was perhaps a kind of game, but that’s the way life is. It was a product of its time, as a way of knowing and saying something about the world today, with the techniques and insights now. ” (Emmet Williams, An Anthology of Concrete Poetry, Something Else Press, N.Y., 1967, p.vi).

The geography of its beginnings reflects the universality of its roots. As we all know, a Swiss of Bolivian origin called Eugen Gomringer is considered the recognized father of Concrete poetry. He called his first poems of innovative style and written in 1951 under the name of “constellations.” When Gomringer and the Noigandres poets of Sao Paulo agreed to call it “Concrete”, they had not realized that Oyvind Fahlstrom (who spent the first three years of his life in Sao Paulo) had published the first manifesto of Concrete Poetry – Manifest for Konketpoesi – Three years before in Stockholm. Similar demonstrations took place in Iceland, Australia, Japan and East Germany. In 1957, Daniel Spoeri (fluxus) leader of the Circle Darmstad of specific poets (who included a German dramatist named Claus Bremer and an American expat named Emmet Williams) published the first international anthology of Concrete poetry. In the sixties he flourished in England, Sweden, France, Spain, Czechoslovakia, and in the United States. Jonathan Williams even wrote: “If there is one thing at the level of a world movement in the art of poetry, this is concrete poetry.” Therefore, this is an international movement with the most varied interests – from militant social reformers, religious mystics, people dedicated to the letters, committed philosophers, selfless philologists, even the typographic poets!

In more general terms, it seems that the preference of the Spanish poets has not concentrated so much in the Concrete poetry, but that their interest has opted for visual poetry or, as they simply call it, experimental poetry of multiple tendencies . The categories that I have mentioned before often are not very suitable for the “intermittent” work class that it produces. The work of J.M.Calleja feels the tremors of Conceptual art and Fluxus. It shows that the approach to the coasts must take place through sensitivity and not so much through knowledge. For example, I am thinking of his Symphony, London, 1979, where the light unfocused view of the park seems to only increase the gray touch of the English plug, a nostalgia for the green, romantic field. We can hear the tones of Delius or Bax. The associations of the image are diverted and transmitted in the score to create a kind of musical sense.

In the early seventies Garnier argued that the man had entered into space and was intrigued by a new energy model: “The poetry turns from art to action, to be recited into the constellation – the phrase, the phrase to the structure, the song at the center of energy. ” All this led him to distinguish the following things:

“Concrete Poetry: work with the language material by creating structures with this, transmitting primarily aesthetic information;

Phonetics Poetry: based on phonemes, in bodies of sounds of language, and generally articulate all the sounds emitted by the vocal organs of the man, works with a recorder and tends to create spatial sound;

Poetry of the Object: pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and musical arrangement thanks to the collaboration of painters, sculptors, musicians and typographers;

Visual Poetry: the word or its elements taken as objects and centers of visual energy.

Cybernetic, serial, permutational, verbal poetry, etc. ”

(P. Garnier, quoted in Mary Ellen Solt, Concrete Poetry, Indiana University Press, 1971, p.79).

Even more accurately, Max Bense’s assertion that “Concrete poetry is a kind of poetry that does not produce either the semantic sense, nor the aesthetic of its elements -for example, the words-, through the traditional formation of linear and grammatically ordered contexts, but nevertheless insists on visual connectors and integrated into the surface. So we are not talking about the fact that the words are correlative one after the other – which is their first constructive principle – but rather the perception of their union. “(Ibid.) It seems to me that this sense of” light “union is precisely what JMCalleja explores, not the union of words, but of images, and how they can tune into a new class of structural space.

J.M.Calleja gives us a structure of space-time, a spatial or visual syntax, a method of composition based in part on analogy rather than any logical and discursive juxtaposition of elements.

Mike Weaver distinguished at the beginning of the sixties, three types of specific poetry: visual (or optical), phonetic (or sonorous), and kinetic (which moves in a visual sequence). He also observes individual poems related to the constructivist or expressionist tradition in art. The first tradition refers to a disposition of the materials according to a system or scheme placed by the poet, who must adjust to his own terms; the second opts for an intuitive structure. In spite of these distinctions, they seem to be useful, it is clear that the poets themselves have not respected them and have been constantly blended. Obviously, JMCalleja is closer to artists like Kiatasonio Katué or Augusto de Campos who often use non-linguistic material creating a new relationship with space, and perhaps open up the possibility for a new spiritual dimension, and an ethical position (We can remember here Max Bill and his production of aesthetic objects for spiritual use). It is also clear that they extend Gomringer’s commitment to formal simplification and to reduced affirmation at all levels of communication.

Elegia for an anonymous poet by J.M.Calleja presents a full moon with a lost musical phrase in the darkness of the sky at night. He speaks of most of his concerns: an element lost in space but intensely communicative, a burden of energy capable of saturating silence, nostalgia for a lost harmony, an insistence on the part that can now perfectly represent the everything, and an awareness about the fragment as everything we have. J.M. Calleja sounds the silence.

1 Viatge d’hivern (1994)
Fí de segle (1994)
Parella berlinesa (1995)
Homenatge a Samuel Beckett (1995)
Escala Baselitz (1995)
Composició 3 (1995)

Text of the catalog Música para los ojos. Municipal Exhibition Hall. Alicante 1996