The New Sleep:

Stasis and the Image-Bound Environment



Tricia Collins and Richard Milazzo





Published 1985 in the Fall Issue 

Art Journal

pp. 244 -245









In the pressure and splendor of its

negations, Joseph Nechvatal's work

quietly proposes that the act of Scrutiny

must be equal in its power to the specta-

cle of commercialized Sleep (Fig. I).

Rendered in the graceful and intricate

guise of signic entertainment, these acts

of scrutiny, and their necessity, are

effectively implied by the use of a gray.


Renaissance or tatoo-like field or envi-

ronment of super-statically charged

images, generated by highly "over-

worked" or congested patterns of infor-

mation, seemingly contradictory in na-

ture, which require the execution of

discernment and judgment (Fig. 2).








Scrutiny, here, must contend with this

simulated grid of trans-social phenom-

ena; in effect, measure itself against the

gray (visual) noise of social and genetic

disinformation and, finally, be equal in

power to the spectacle of disengaged

History. Scrutiny, in Nechvatal's view

of things, must process, ultimately, the

actuality of biological terrorism.


While Nechvatal's pictures—draw-

ings, photographic works, and video

images (Fig. 3)—are stimulated by the

excess distantiations of the body, which

are driven mentally into micro-nega-

tions (or signic negations) in the weak

temporality of existence, they also build

a dark, hallucinatory techno-anterior

synthetic (or a willfully obsolete or

archaic anti-structure) that drives the

onslaught of psychic references and sen-

sations in their binary mode into a dense

network of intentionality, desublima-

tion, and scrutiny, a kind of Biosubjec-

tivity that can surmount (or appropri-

ate) the fast interiors of the New Sleep,

and overwhelm the world of Naturalized








Ultimately, Nechvatal is constructing

in his work an abstract history, a dispa-

rate instrumentality, that can accommo-

date the images of the Subtended

Psyche in pictures that categorically

exhaust standardized consciousness and

institutionalized perceptions.











Published in the Fall Issue 1985

Art Journal