TEXTS

ROGER VILDER : THE GEOMETRY OF THE VITAL INSTINCT

Departing from the classical constructivist’s morphology and syntax, Roger Vilder’s vision has developed without complex nor constrainst to the liking of an all oriental sensuality. It is through the temporary terms of the geometrical langage that he undertakes to shout out his love of life and communicating this to us. « I am a powerless god because I do not accept my own weaknesses » he tells us in a text written in Montreal in February 1970. This recognition is a whole program in itself. This « son of the mediteranean sea and sun » has gone to live the great northern experience and the wideopen spaces. Without emphasizing the sentimental side of all biographical reference, there is something else than a simple hazard to his personal migration though time and space in geography and history. If Vilder resorts to geometric forms, it is because he intends to reach depths, to express the essence of life through its constant metamorphosis. His animated reliefs showing the relentless crossing of two perpandicular lines expresses one Mondrian and all the Mondrian of the world. Life is the squaring of the circle and Vilder knows well that computer design has solved the problem. On the formal plan, and uniquely on this one of course, because the secret of life, which is also that of the magical wand, is the eternal comeback, etrnal beginning, eternal starting over ‘ab ovo’. This eternal starting over of life is not a miracal but a reason to live. In a recent film scenario (October 1972) Roger Vilder describes the extreme amplitude of an elementary metamorphosis. A cluster of dots inscribed in a perfect square, becomes birds flying in an amboid cloud shape, which becomes a school of fish swimming, becoming a herd of sheep running around, seen from above, which turns back to the initial dots within the square. Here, the spirit of geometry identifies itself with a deep instinct apprehending primary elements of existence. My meeting with Roger Vilder was quick, simple, decisive. I beleive in the simple tenacity of this sorcerer without miracles, at his crazy love of life, at his mystical realism and all that he bears within him of instinct that he expresses spontaneously : the kind of people are rare, they do not bother themselves with formal contingencies of the already seen or done and obstinately look at the world with constantly renewed eyes.

Pierre Restany Paris, janvier 1973



ROGER VILDER

To say that the works of Vilder shown in this exhibition are Mondrians set in motion would neither Go very far, nor would mean very much. However, if one insists upon evoquing Mondrian in the context of Vilders work, one can do it judiciously, as Tommaso Trini who wrote two years ago: MONDRIAN STARTS FROM A TREE TO BUILD A GEOMETRICAL ABSTRACTION, WHEREAS VILDER DEALS WITH THE OPTICAL RENDERING OF THE VITAL PULSATIONS OF THE SAME TREE. It would certainly be a mistake not to go beyond the geometry of vertical and horizontal lines in our interrogation of the work. Geometry is present only as a metaphor, and Vilder points out that EACH WORK IS AN ATTEMPT TO GRAP THE SECRETS OF LIFE. Pierre Restany is right to speak of the RELENTLESS CROSSING OF THE PERPENDICULAR LINES: indeed the pieces of Vilder breathe and move in a slow, smooth and unform way. Whereas the cycle of the 1966 gear pieces was short, lasting through a single revolution of the elementary Gestalt wheel, it became longer in the expanding and contracting pieces that followed and longer still in the new works since 1970. Some of these would have to be in continuous operation for more than four years, twenty-four hours a day, for us to see them repeat a given configuration. The scenario of verticals and horizontals that Vilder has organized offers us continuous movements along which there is no place for prime moments. The movements questions all the instantaneous states of the system. There is no particular instant where the orthogonal lines would offer proportions in the division of the surface that would be more harmonious or more interesting. Rather than in a particular stage, or a necessarily fugitive state of the configuration, it is in the system itself that we have to look for the source of q continued harmony that ties what is with what has just been and with what will be. It was quite natural for Vilder to be attracted by the use of cinema and its temporality. As early as 1970, he conceived a film for which trial runs were made in video from the graphic screen of a computer in 1971, and the scenario of which was completed in 1972. It is an ambitious project, which no doubt will be extremely difficult to carry through. But it deals with questions which are the heart of Vilders problematic, such as movement, cycle or the relation of the unit to the whole. A square made up of dots softens into an amoebic shape, only one dot remains visible and evolves into a bird, a cloud or birds, a flock of fish seen from the sky, a school of fish, one fish, a single scale which in turns becomes a dot that brings us back to the dots of the original square. This project calls for sophisticated transformation sequences which have to be carried out with the help of computer animation and there are important technical problems to be solved. In addition Vilder has produced several short animated films and videotapes and the computer allowed him to create works that most often would have been impossible to achieve with conventional mechanical means. For example, the film which is shown during this exhibition depicts a square divided into a certain number of coloured rectangular areas the surfaces of which vary continuously. The film was conceived in 1971, prepared in 1972, shot a first time in 1973, re-shot in 1974 and finally edited in 1975. The difficulties of this completion demonstrate the energy and power of conviction needed to succeed in producing such a film outside the normal channels. Vilders work of the last ten years always remained of excellent quality. The successive series of works were all fascinating and very powerful when they appeared and the older ones as well as the latest keep intact this power of conviction that so many kinetic works never had or promptly lost by being light or decorative gadgets. Vilder is a classic and his pieces work not as simple objects to view, but as objects of knowledge and tools for meditation with which one would want to live.

Gilles Gheerbrandt 1975



ROGER VILDER

The kinetic objects of Roger Vilder are the synthesis of the geometrical order and the organic mutation, but they go far beyond. It is an innovative understanding of the morphological processes that his art proposes to us and not an umpteenth innovation of form in art. Who is Vilder: a Canadian artist of Lebanese origin, who until '71 works in Montreal, and who has since traveled and exhibited throughout Europe. We discover his work at the most important crossroads of the formal field of art. Vilder, heir of constructivist resolutions, develops them in their formal manifestation - geometric language plus movement - in order to recompose the dichotomy between geometrical form and organic form. It is true that modern art has been extensively and severely divided as to the choice of one or the other form. But these choices have always invested a deeper problem, that of the relations between art and life, between the autonomy of the specific means of painting and the reference data of reality. In order not to continue this illusory choice, we are currently working on a possible third path that is neither the geometrical nor the organic form, research in which minimal sculpture, land art, process art have been launched. Vilder tells us not a third way, but the need to immerse ourselves in the metamorphoses of this 3rd infinity which is the organization of the matter of which we are made. After exploring the infinity of stars, interplanetary space, after exploring the molecular infinity, the vision of the genetic and vital dimension. Vilder's works until the 1970s featured expansions and contractions of elastic forms by visible mechanical processes, so that geometry is more the pattern of a code of learning from reality than true artistic language. This artistic language, which is also neoplastic with works animated from '71 to the present day, where the intersection and divergence of lines (up to disappear at sight), straight lines, orthogonal, luminescent, etc. in fact a network of observation of the movement. Space is that of the painting in appearance, but the elementary mutation of forms comes from the association of the geometrical and the organic. If Mondrian is the geometrical abstraction of a tree, then Vilder is the optical restitution of the vital pulse of that same tree. It is interesting to recall the experiments conducted by Vilder in Montreal with the computer graphic. On the basis of some works he mixed 2 programs of visual patterns to study the formation of lines that become squares. The new era of software ware opens unimaginable horizons to the problems raised by Vilder. The most direct solution - he says - is provided by the use of cinema and its temporality. Here he is a screenwriter of an experimental film on "movement and relationship between unity and the whole" where a perfect square, molecular organization of small points, transforms into an organic form of amoeba, becoming a flock of birds flying in the sky, into a school of fish in the sea and a flock of sheep running on the ground taking us on a journey in the air, the water and on earth, and finally getting back to the original square made of dots. The transformations of the geometric image to the organic one require an animation technique that the computer can provide. The present tributes to constructivism are proof that the work of Vilder is the coherent extension of a research which has become classical and which can be recognized as a scientific legitimacy. However, these works also contain a principle of negation or even self-destruction, depending on the structure of each biomorphic organization of matter. What compensates in terms of aesthetic verification the apparent degree of mechanization and programming of the work.

Tommaso Trini



Following the lines of the world - The art of Roger Vilder

...As I begin to write this text, I have before my eyes a great piece of tree-root found some months ago on a shore in Brittany, and which I’ve mounted on a stand. Rolled around by the waves, hollowed out by stones and salt, it’s a delight for the eyes and for the mind : an ocean sculpture, looking more interesting, saying more than The Victory of Samothrace. I’d say something of the same for the stones gathered round the world I have laid out here in this atelier : a block of sandstone layered in grey and black from the Lofoten, a slab of grey and rosy clay from the Sierra de Grazalema in Spain, and that mauve stone from a river bed on Guadeloupe. It’s not only an aesthetic satisfaction linked to form and colour that these objects provide, it’s a sense of the forces at play in the universe. And with human beings that’s a deep need. The human being has as much need of communication with the universe as of social communication. And there you have the ultimate motivation of the deepest art : the movements (of animals), the flight (of a band of migratory birds), the curve (of a wave), the gleam (of a stroke of lightning) — events that awaken the desire to do something similar, to be somehow worthy of the cosmos. Without such communication, without this contact, there will of course be productions called «art» and «culture». But, descending from one artificial artefact to the other, this « art », this « culture », will end up in the most trivial fantasy or in a complacent milling about in ugliness and insignificance. All the great artists have always known this. That’s why Rimbaud says that if he has a taste for anything, it’s for «earth and stones». That’s why Saint-John Perse evokes the sea as «showing the way to the greatest text» and why Artaud calls for «an organic idea of culture». It’s in this field of premises, both radical and radiating, that I place the art of Roger Vilder. Vilder began (and a real artist never forgets his beginnings, he develops them) with a very strong sense of geometry: not only a sense of line and form, but «a measuring of the earth». I’m thinking there of his 16 cubes in solid aluminium and his 4 white lines of neon. In such work, he is constructivist: the lines are regular — horizontal or vertical. Then the lines break, and become movement: the constructions are deconstructed (but without losing form, without turning into futility), the geometry becomes more complex. This is where constructivism converts to organicism: the regular or broken lines evoke now bee-swarms, a herd of moving animals, the flight of birds, meteorological whirlings of matter. This is where the linear art of Roger Vilder discovers the open world, with its geo-graphies and its geo-logies. Walt Whitman said one day, way back in the nineteenth century, in the course of an excursion to Colorado, facing a chaotic pile of rocks, that he would give up anything commonly called «art» if only he could render the sensation with which those rocks filled his mind. In a similar way, Vilder has walked among the great rock-masses of Monument Valley and around Powell Lake. They were a lesson to him, because he was able not just to admire them, but to read them, that is, to follow their lines. And then, in the bed of a river in Canada, he came across strange stones. Again, a shock of reality, and the desire to let it be seen and felt by others. He decides to give these stones art-status by reproducing them in bronze. This series of bronzen stones is a whole world, not only mineral, but organic and even totemic: both archaic and anarchic, representative and abstract. In my reading of Vilder’s work, after the initial geometry, then the geography-geology, there is, as a third stage, geopoetics. There I’m thinking of those wavescapes, those sand-patterns, those crystal-clusters, stellar agglomerations and nebulas one finds in his glasswork, where force, form and light come together in an art that is complete, where the rhythms of the world, fracture zones included, are concentrated. One particular glass-piece comes to mind: totality in movement, beautiful harmony, singularity and multiplicity combined, clarified cosmology — a masterpiece. Art, the mind in its furthest reaches, tends towards a cosmos. Not necessarily a paradise, but a cosmos. It’s this cosmological movement I see at work in the art of Roger Vilder.

« Les lignes du monde» de Kenneth White 2002



Personal statments

« Since potentially everything exists, creating is discovering and making visible or manifest what is latent »

«…Esthetically kinetics allow me to give preference to the harmony of a continuum motion in time and space. I look forward to express, the synergy between time and real motion created within a specific space, the expression of motion through motion and the apparent simultaneous complexities of constant vibrations andchanges in sizes and proportions that surrounds us to the harmony of motion in time and space...»

« MOVEMENT RESEARCHER, essay on my work »

Roger Vilder 2002-2007



« Touch algorithm »

«Defense not to touch»
In the sixties in France, G.R.A.V., Visual Arts Research Group, issued the following principles: "Defense not to touch" and "Defense not to participate". For Roger Vilder, who is currently exhibiting at the NMarino gallery in Paris, these injunctions are now at their full value. For this artist who has shared his life between Canada and France, works on art built in conjunction with those on the movement bring him closer to this story written by the proponents of kinetic art. For it is an itinerary of fifty years which ends today with this proposal of "Touch algorithm". Roger Vilder's first digital research dates back to 1971. In 1973 he made computer drawings at the Meteorological Center of Canada. Now, for Roger Vilder, this desire to combine creation in the field of visual arts with computer technology is realized with these black and white or color drawings animated by algorithms, the tables becoming permanently modified by random or repetitive movements . The surface of the screen- painting is then enslaved by the computer to the benefit of a work in constant change.

Roger Vilder : l'art in sharing

And it will be perfect if the work makes you forget the painting, "the work of art." Roger Vilder, with his "Touch Algorithms", thus installs this new relationship in artistic creation. The mutation of the work of art does not seem to me to be due, first of all, to technological progress but rather to this new status: the painting on the wall is not a finished, definitive object, it becomes an interactive, modifiable element, subject to the will of its owner, who owns this share of creativity. The dream of G.R.A.V. to see the birth of a "Defense not to touch" artists G.R.A.V. finds here a new application with the use by Roger Vilder of touch screens that singularly disrupt the status of both the work and that of the artist. From now on, the collector takes his share of creation for each work initiated by the artist. The spectator of the painting has decision-making power by intervening on the tactile plane: it can then move the image, enlarge a shape, reduce it, modify the geometric ratio of shapes and colors. In these conditions, it is not only the nature of the work that changes by being attributed an additional actor in the act of creation, it is the very status of the artist that is upset. By putting this decision-making power at the disposal of the spectator, Roger Vilder puts in a situation an unpublished tandem which, in a certain way, desacralizes the role of the creator, the indisputable pre-eminence of the artist. Imagine a painting by Mondrian modified to suit the humor of the collector? What would Mondrian himself think of it? How is the concept of the author defined? With this proposal of "Touch Algorithm", Roger Vilder puts on the work the question of the relation to the art that the artists of G.R.A.V. posed half a century ago. Among its members, Julio Le Parc declared as early as 1961: "Art does not interest us as such. It is for us a way to provide visual sensations, a material highlighting your gifts. Everyone is gifted, everyone can become a partner. new relationship between the artist and the viewer takes shape today with this art of sharing.

Claude Guibert «Chronicles of the black hat» Le Monde, octobre 2016