Of the sense of the traces in art

Watercourses in the damp sand, autumn leaves on a track, a piece of driving wood at the river bank, colour layers peeling off an old wall, the wrinkles in my face - all traces. Traces of time and perishing. Wind, sand, water, soft things form hard ones, leaving traces – traces form us.

Traces on our soul are mostly invisible, yet everybody carries ones ballast with oneself. The skilled one recognises also these traces. Traces of power, violence, terror, death, devastation, traces of powerlessness – we know them all, how do we deal with them? Can we eliminate these traces? – What is left behind then? Thoughts on a difficult topic.

Especially when a trace is inspiring me, and finally each artistic work is based on a mental or material trace. If I take up the trace, develop it further, breath new life into it, give it a new topicality, then the trace becomes the basis for a new beginning. Then I can change strange as well as own traces, and give them new sense. Developing on history and the experiences of innumerable people before me, a trace then develops a self-dynamic, an independent existence, perhaps without having been existent, noticeable or perceptible before to others. The structure of a trace addresses the internal of the human being, something which is passed on from the very beginning, C.G. Jung speaks here of the collective unconsciousness. Thereby the width of human experience in ones own history becomes noticeable and is awaked into a new life. Every human leaves traces, whether consciously or not, and every human being takes up traces of others. For me taking up traces is a fundamental attitude in the life of a human being.

This dynamics continues in the own artistic work and, ideally, is also passed on to the viewer of my work. He takes up my traces and develops thereby his own interpretation of my artistic intentions. Perhaps he even develops the traces I left in a way I never expected, wanted or had felt about. Through my work I leave traces; traces which others can and will take up. The trace continues independently, uncontrollably and in complete freedom.

Traces have been the basis of artistic work since the beginning of mankind. The material is not important, although our contemporary comprehension of art makes us often believe. The financial value is not important, important is to be touched by the trace lying in the artwork, to recognise, continue and further develop the self-dynamic, to leave a new own trace. That is the impact of the trace. If then another human being takes up my trace a new cycle begins, which we have known for thousands of years and which is able to be continue independently of space and time. As an example, I still remember the smile of an African mask. More than 400 years ago it had been carved by an unknown artist and it let me smile 400 years later. After such a long time I could still feel the joy the artist wanted to pass on. Traces are relicts from the past, which outlive time and space.

Traces can cause also refusal, particularly if they concern social taboos. Often one can make refusal visible in violence and death. The confrontation with the own life contains a trace of death and sorrow. Death is particularly excluded from the daily life in our society, nobody wants to notice it anymore.

In the arts traces and fragments occur as something completely new, as an entity. Once we took up the track we pursue purposefully the way. Each leaf at the edge of a way, every old piece of wood spinning in the brook-bed, each flint stone has its own history and is examined by us, is asked, whether it fits into our picture which we perceived with the first trace, which we pursue and whether it can be used. The traces we meet tell us stories, which can touch us, which we can spin on and which can bring us further in our artistic work.

In traces there is thus a strength that we should use and convert artistically.

A trace can be an idea, thought, thing or a feeling.

As artists it is our task to hunt for traces, to look for buried traces, to search for traces. We must be open for traces to meet us, to carry them, to take them up, to leave traces, consciously or not.
In the mental discussion with a trace creativity comes into play. The perceived will be compared with the well-known, the trace changes ones own perception as well as the perception of the trace can be changed. If the trace is without inner importance for the viewer, he is letting it down in order to turn to a new, more interesting one.

The sense of the trace in art is very substantial. The importance of the traces, the perception of a trace is of fundamental importance for the creativity of the artist, in order to further develop its own work, but also for the viewer.

In my book art I build my sensation, which I obtained through a trace, into my text or my figurative discourse with the given topic. In the course of the reflection a self-dynamic is developed, which often cannot be controlled anymore. This means, the story, book project receives a completely different depth as intended in the beginning of my work.
These unconscious interventions through space and time fascinate me again and again. The book as an art space makes it possible to pursue the development of a trace. Despite planning, preliminary reflections and goal security traces exert influence on my artistic work.

The art lives on the traces and their updating in the artwork.
Gerd J. Wunderer