Enfolding-Unfolding Aesthetics

Laura U. Marks

Enfolding-unfolding aesthetics offers a way to think alongside the complex and mysterious world of processes that Tenderfoot explores. It conceives of the universe as physical—matter plus energy. Thinking this way allows us to understand all things or beings as “matter from the outside, consciousness from the inside,” as Peirce wrote, and to respect the processes whereby matter, energy, and (not necessarily human) thought come together.

The universe is traversed by waves of unfolding and enfolding.  The infinite (the cosmos) is deeply enfolded and unknowable in itself. From it certain things are creatively unfolded, by passing through filters (I call them Information) that frame or quantify the infinite. I call the beings that unfold Images, because they are perceptible, to some other being, somewhere. Then at some point, after moments or eons, these beings fold back into the Infinite. They continue to exist, but in enfolded form, and may unfold again as parts of new processes.

I admire the ingenious parking-spot-holders of Beirut, sturdy squatters that, dragged into place, save a spot for you to park car. These are some I photographed in 2006. Repurposed from discarded stuff, they unfold the qualities, energies, and creativity of materials and people through the filter of Beirut’s vigilante parking system. Beautifully singular, while indicating larger physical, social, and political patterns, the parking-spot-holders give us a feel for how beings unfold from and enfold back into the infinite.

Laura U. Marks works on media art and philosophy with an intercultural focus. She programs experimental media art for venues around the world. Dr. Marks’ most recent books are Hanan al-Cinema: Affections for the Moving Image (MIT, 2015) and Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art (MIT, 2010). With Dr. Azadeh Emadi she is a founding member of the Substantial Motion Research network, substantialmotion.org. Dr. Marks is Grant Strate Professor in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. www.sfu.ca/~lmarks