Clinamen (clīnāre, to incline), is the name Roman poet and philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus gave to the unpredictable swerve of atoms, as a means of defending the Epicurian view of atomism. It is also the title Giovanna Cerise has chosen for her latest installation, now open at DiXmiX Gallery (you’ll find it in the The Atom club / event space within the gallery building).
Clinamen is the second recent exhibition by Giovanna which offers a philosophical lean (no pun intended), following as it does From the Worlds to the World (see here for more). It’s a piece that has broad philosophical foundations. There is Lucretius, as noted above, and the ancient philosophical science of atomism – the belief that nature consists pure of atoms and their surrounding void, and that everything that exists or occurs is the result of the atoms colliding, rebounding, and becoming entangled with one another as they travel through that void. Most notably, the piece is founded on the ideal of free will, as put forward by the Greek philosopher and science thinker, Epicurus.
Epicurus was an atomist. However, he saw atomism as espoused by earlier thinkers such as Democritus as being to regulated. They believed atoms could only travel in straight lines. This meant that no matter how atoms struck one another or how many times they rebounded from one another, their paths were all pre-determined. Epicurus found this determinism to be too confining, as it left no room for free will. So instead, he believed the motion of some atoms could actually exhibit a “swerve” (parenklisis in Greek, clinamen in Latin), making their paths more unpredictable, thus reaffirming the role of free will.
Within her exhibition, Giovana offers a range of three-dimensional forms and structures. In the one hand, these are rigid, almost geometric in shape, offering a reflection of the deterministic element of atomism. Yet within them, edges are blurred and hard to see, while the geometry of some contain more natural, extruded forms while others have rippled, flowing surfaces. They cannot be the product of purely straight-line, deterministic flight, and so they reflect parenklisis and the more Epicurean view of atomism.
This Epicurean view is ultimately born witness to by our own reactions to the installation. How we each chose to see and interpret / re-interpret the structures and forms presented bears witness to the exercise of our own free will.
In this way Clinamen is an intriguing play on art and philosophy; an exhibit where subjective reaction really does play an active role in perceiving the installation and the ideas on which it is founded, simply because doing so is an exercise in the application of free will.
- DiXmiX Galley (Bay Port, rated: Moderate)