The Ghostmodern Condition

A riddle — Q: When is a thing not a thing? A: When it’s a void with the form of that thing.

Take a a Platonic solid, a cube. Then…

  1. Divide every face of the cube into 9 squares, like a Rubik’s Cube. This will sub-divide the cube into 27 smaller cubes.
  2. Remove the cube at the middle of every face, and remove the cube in the center, leaving 20 cubes.
  3. Repeat steps 1–3 for each of the remaining smaller cubes. Forever.

At each stage, you’re left with a fractal curve called a Menger Sponge:

[More animation here]

At the limit point of infinite recursion, you’re left with a cube which has infinite surface area, but which is all hole.

We offer this empty solid up as a model of an aesthetic we’re labelling ghostmodernism within which — of the spine, the spire, the span that holds the form to one form: the wire in the rose — only that span, the form of the form, remains, as the form itself has now become infinitely detailed, yet in that process, of the void.

So, you ask, what does ghostmodernism look like, in the wild?

Exhibit One — this exquisite laser-cut chair from Gallery Fumi:


[view full-size on Flickr]

Exhibit Two — the plot of the film Inception, while having the surface modernist form of a heist thriller, recurses down into the frozen time ‘down there’ deep in stasis of Cobb’s dreamworld, the narrative ‘arc’ now a pathological curve.

Inception narrative visualisation

The ghostmodern is not inherently evanescent, although I’d happily claim Doug Starn’s Big Bambu installation as an edge-case.

These thoughts also return to us our dreams of the hyperbolic surfaces of modern being — there’s another post coming soon linking these thoughts…

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One Response to The Ghostmodern Condition

  1. darrell says:

    Ok, now let’s Google to see who else has used the term, and to describe what…

    Here we go…

    Rachel Whitread? http://instituteformodern.co.uk/2010/ghostmodernism

    Maybe —
    … although here I’m more interested in forms which are become voids, rather than her voids->forms…

    …maybe ghostmodernism accommodates both sides of that mirror (form->void, void->form)?

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