Here is my story, I was born in Holland, and grew up in a multi-cultural setting. I lived in Canada, United States and West-Africa before I turned twelve. I became a mutt who was fluent in three languages by living around the world. And yet somewhere along the line in my youth, I believed that there was some innate sense of truth besides the one defined by our multi-cultural environment. When I turned twenty-one, I set out on my own and traveled around the United States and Mexico taking pictures. By 1981, these travels led me to New York, where I fell in love with the melting pot of ideas, beliefs, and desires that comprises the city. However romantic a view this may seem, I longed for a singular perspective which could define who I was, and the photographic book "Portrait of Myself as a Young New Yorker" came out of this creative time. In the process of photographing "Portrait" I realized in one photographic moment in 1983, that when we finally touch the truth within ourselves, this is the moment Truth withdraws into the Void (1). This is the moment of the Now.

Many people in the world believe their truth lies in some form of the Absolute, the sublime, religious revelation, Nirvana or God. Profound events throw us into the core of our Being, and historically they are conceptualized as the object supreme or experienced event. For artists, the sublime is a large part of their Being, and when the sublime is unleashed within the self it needs to be expressed. Yet, my truth repels any sense of certainty of what the representation of the object-as-one should be. I define this "Now Moment" as a double movement, and can only be disclosed as an irreducible tension or antagonism between two ideas such as self and other. Any two ideas can be closely connected, but according to Zizek's Parallax Gap any shifting perspective between two points will offer no mediation or synthesis. This "Parallax View" happens when an object is displaced by a change in position of the observer creating a short circuit that brings to light its "unthought."(2) After twenty five years analyzing the diptych above, it makes sense for me to articulate our fragile nature as an object that slips between our fingers; a presence (ecstasy, oneness) felt as an absence (dread, void) within that presence. The object in the Now Moment is unrepresentable because consciousness is irreducible. You might think of this moment as being opposite to Cartier-Bresson's Decisive Moment. In the Decisive Moment the object is external and captured by the camera, but the Now Moment is internal and slips between the fingers. It is worth quoting Zizek's vision of the Absolute as it relates to the moment, "What is the Absolute? Something that appears to us in fleeting experiences, say, through the gentle smile of a beautiful woman, or even through the warm, caring smile of a person who otherwise may seem ugly and rude - in such miraculous, but extremely fragile moments, another dimension transpires through our reality. As such, the Absolute is easily corroded; it all too easily slips through our fingers, and must be treated as carefully as a butterfly. In short, the Absolute is a pure Event, something that just occurs - it disappears before it even fully appears."(3) We should also consider Derrida's vision of the Absolute event in poetic terms. "Pure and Figureless, this light burns all. It burns itself in the all-burning. It is, leaves, of itself or anything, no trace, no mark, no sign of passage. Pure consuming destruction, pure effusion of light without shadow, noon without contrary, without resistance, without obstacle, waves, showers, streams ablaze with light."(4) And we should wrap up with a quote from George Hartley as it relates to the sublime "What this means is that, strictly speaking, there is no beyond of representation. Yet the space of incommensurability opened up in the heart of representation--in, for example, the experience of the sublime---projects just such a beyond both as the more adequate operation and as the Thing beyond appearance. This space of incommensurability--the gap or abyss opened up between the figure and the concept--this space of impossibility, is at the same time the space of possibility of representation as such. Without such an immanent limitation, representation could not operate at all."(5)

In the art world, one can see tremendous creativity in the visual arts in movements as different as De Stijl, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, and Conceptual Art that sought to capture our essence as a universal form. Today, Truth has become relative. We no longer think in terms of the Absolute, and we live in a culture that is over-saturated in representation. There are no limits to our freedom in any medium of representation, and as Arthur Danto states "by the 1970's it was possible to say, with Warhol, that anything could be a work of art" and "anyone could be an artist.(8)" The ideal of unlimited freedom and the condition of "anything goes"(9) are playing themselves out in the contemporary art world. To much freedom is capacious. We should no longer seek to represent a freedom without limits, but instead figure the limits of freedom on representation by embracing the impossibility of representing the Gap. The limits of representation does not impinge on free speech, but is structural to our fundamental nature. If we are free to represent ourselves as any transcendental or sublime object, then what remains unsaid? The object always changes, but what remains immutable and eternal is a Gap without hierarchy, a consciousness that at bottom remains opaque to us. I have embraced both modern and postmodern perspectives, and have combined a mixture where any appearance of Truth as the ultimate form can only be represented as a failure to express. There is always a Gap between appearance and representation. The modern representation of the sublime is too rigid and self-assured for an outlook of the 21st century. (Modern masters and doubt - I don't think so!) On the other hand, the postmodern freedom to "do it all" leads to a flattened relativism. The postmodern sublime, as I see it, embraces asymmetrical space (tension) in order to open us to our unrepresentable nature. It is in our failure to represent the impossible, and thus re-arrange the possible, that we succeed in embracing and knowing the mystery at the heart of the universe(10).

The concept of the Absolute Gap refutes any notion of the Absolutism or extremism in government or religion, and I believe as long as we define ourselves in terms of a concrete Absolute, we will continue to kill each other under that name.(6) If we ever want to stop the violence in the world, we will have to change the way we think about ourselves. Cultural relativism from a global perspective is a disaster, and has not worked. We are free to choose our own world, but we are not free to do as we please. Our freedom has to be cultivated and nurtured over time by letting go of the notion of a bedrock identity, and being open to the differences between us. It is this difference which propels us into the diversity and freedom of all people to choose their own unique selfhood and find novel solutions to their own identities. We cannot be free at the core of who we are, and have a bedrock of the soul at the same time. All existence is defined by impermanence change and fluidity. Once we accept this, the challenge in becoming an individual is to balance the Gap between Ideology and Nihilism. The irreducible Gap within us all is the Impossible Object of the Postmodern Sublime(7). There is no substratum that tells us who we "really" are in the world, and what is needed today in art is a language or genre that says we do not have all the answers. As an artist, I believe in Truth as an Absolute Gap, and we can arrive at it through doubt. My passion and commitment to this internal, impossible space has driven my art for thirty years.

We should direct our attention to the need for social progress in the 21st century, however our focus should be on embracing Gaps, ruptures and paradoxes that are part of our changing world. This proposition advocates tolerance as an ideal for the 21st century, openness to the object, and hope in the face of the impossible. We can learn to know the Impossible Object of the Postmodern Sublime.

(1) A terrific and accessible book on Postmodern Truth: Caputo, John D. 2013 "Truth. Philosophy in Transit." (Penguin books, 2013.)

(2) I am paraphrasing from: Zizek, Slavoy."Parallax View" loc 25. (MIT Press. 2006. Kindle edition.) You can also read Zizek's "Demanding the Impossible" (Polity Press. 2013. Kindle edition) The book is a good primer on Zizek.

(3) Zizek, Slavoy. "Event: Philosophy in Transit" pg 90. (Penguin books. 2014. Kindle edition.)

(4) Derrida, Jacques. "Glas" pg.238. (Lincoln: The University of Nebraska Press. 1986)

(5) Hartley, George. "The Abyss of Representation: Marxism and the Postmodern Sublime" pg 3. (Duke University Press. 2003. Kindle edition.)

(6) Critchley makes the argument better than I do, and in the video Bronowski makes the argument better than he does. It is worth looking at: Critchley, Simon. "The Dangers of Certainty, A lesson from Auschwitz." Feb 2, 2014. The New York Times, The Stone-Opinionator. online edition.

(7)A great introduction to thinking the impossible, and figuring the impossible: Gutting, Gary. "Thinking the Impossible: French Philosophy since 1960" (Oxford University Press. 2011). or for a quick article to read from an Analytical perspective: Rosenberg, Alex. "Why You Don't Know Your Own Mind" July 18, 2016, The New York Times, The Stone-Opinionator. online-edition

(8) Danto, Arthur. "Unnatural Wonders; Essays from the Gap between Art and Life." pg 14. (Farrar, Straus, Giroux. 2005. Kindle edition.)

(9)Within the same context as Danto's "Unnatural Wonders," it is worth reading the five part series by Thierry De Duve in Artforum magazine. The first article was in October 2013 and titled "Pardon My French."

(10) Bradatan has an excellent article in the NYT on Failure: Bradatan, Costica. "In Praise of Failure." Dec 15, 2013. The New York Times, the Stone-Opinionator. online-edition.