Interdisciplinary Conference


in Art & Science

26-28 November 2020, University of Applied Arts Vienna/Online

28. Hiding Art, Hiding Codes and the Comic Strategies of Total Disappearing
Session: Session "NSP2 / Brute"
Speakers: Ioannis Melanitis

The paper studies mimesis as a biological and artistic phenomenon. Refers to codes hidden inside artworks, as the technique of hiding human code inside an insect at the The Melanitis leda Project which was about a transgenic model of the Leda Melanitis butterfly using one of Yiannis Melanitis genes (optix gene 6). An example of hidden coding is the encryption of the word BACH within the structure of the fugue by the composer himself in his latest work (Art of the Fugue / Die Kunst Der Fuge). The third theme of the unfinished quadruple fugue begins with the sequence of “BACH” notes. 

Artists’ Name as a Camouflage Tool is apparent in Odyssey also. Outis is a fake, self-invented name given to Polyphemus for deceiving him by its double meaning. In front of Cyclops, Odysseus names himself Οτις, usually translated as Nobody or as Noman. Odysseus is also the model of a modern man that Ezra Pound sees himself entangled to while writing the Cantos, after his imprisonment in a cage in post-war Italy. The code of Outis means more than the meaning of the word. His codified camouflage makes him stand “ out of time  ̈; quite the same for a biological code that dynamically contains information of a body-it serves as encryption in time. An example is head codification in animals : Genomic sequences may express body parts; a code corresponds to a body encrypted in a text, as in the Lhx1 genomic sequence 11. If this sequence is removed during embryogenesis in the Lim1 gene, the head of the organism does not grow. 

We further examine how mimesis turns comical. The process of disappearing in art or nature requires the pre-assumption of a mimesis, a satiric act of deceiving, trick, including an ultimate laughingstock (Greek =περίγελως). Being a fool may save the life of the ridiculer. We may define the act of mimesis by means of information’ s distribution in nature. Ιn my recent works Ι ́m attracted by the Caligo Eurilochus and Caligo Memnon owl butterflies, genus Caligo. Caligo butterflies mimic the image of an owl (by texture and an eye pattern) and at the same time a snake, at each wing end. So, do butterflies have consciousness of the pattern perplexity? Every case of “ridiculing” a respectable model in nature requires an audience. Butterflies “know” the existence of external monitoring. If butterflies are artists, the artists’ lab as a garden, where butterflies find their own camouflage points and in my case, return to the dead artists’ body. 

The performance If You Cannot Be An Owl, Masquerade Like A Butterfly occurred on the Isola di San Michele: Cemetery, Venice, around the graves of dead poets. An artist never dies, she/he encrypts the work inside nature, or even incorporates it in its mechanisms.

Ioannis Melanitis

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