A hand-drawn line is a form of expression, while a ruler-drawn line is a dying entity. The nature of man, s that of a machine, is revealed in the strokes they produce. A lifeless machine will plot nothing more than a deadly, expressionless stroke, while man will draw an expressionful line, itself feeding its internal psyche (imagination, emotion). Historically, abstract painting was built around this man/machine dichotomy, which could also be designated by the softness/hardness opposition, also called geometric abstraction/ lyrical abstraction in the pictorial field.
Elsewhere, other forms of abstraction easily combine these two forms of delineation, for instance when a monk’s hesitant hand illuminates the circles with a mandala compass. The cohabitation of inert hardness and organic softness sometimes turns out well—despite being as unexpected as a parking lot in the middle of the forest.
Fluid dynamics. One’s ecstatic state conjured up by the delightful oxymoron provided by science—nicknamed
dynaflu by undergraduates—evokes the
liquid fractures of pictorial jargon, when the paint on some pictures cracks before it is even dry.
Hard faults which, with the passage of time, end up shearing Mona Lisa’s sweet smile or the Californian coast, are another matter altogether. Liquid factures, on the other hand, are those where a liquid, under the effect of an instantaneous gesture, solidify for a moment, just long enough to smash. Cold hardness and warm softness then cohabit within the same medium.
Each matter form has its manner and time frame for achieving this cohabitation. Geology students learn that rocks behave like a liquid over a long time frame (around one million years). The earth’s crust floats, billows and and stretches. Conversely, a liquid only behaves like a rock over a very short time period (around one-tenth of a second), at the precise moment when it is fractured. While liquidity, as a concept, takes time to emerge, the cohabitation of hardness and of softness is the cohabitation of the instantaneous and of the eternal.