This is the second time I am at this Chelsea loft. The first time I had received an invitation with reading materials to come prepared for the chosen topic. I had been intentionally unknown to anyone and was not to know anyone there until after the discussion of the materials. When the transcription of the evening is released, my name will be replaced by a number indicating which speaker I had chronologically assigned myself to be. On my way to rush out to catch a train, I was told by our host, "Let me know if you want to have coffee some time."
Now half a year later we are having coffee. Now that I am around instead of rushing away.
This time the discussion is just between the two of us instead of in a large group. I arrive breathlessly and the coffee is ready, hot. Gratitude. I am finding myself unable to not close my eyes to sleep when I sit down, when I am on a train, when I am in the car. I do not close my eyes at the counter as I accept my coffee, I do not close my eyes as we move to the more comfortable chairs. I do recline, as does my host. We are like sunbathers on the veranda. It's comfortable, with the view of Chelsea buildings reflecting the glaring sunlight through the wall of windows.
The room is inviting, large and open. The current paintings hung up look like asterisks on a nexus plane. I do not recall what was on the walls the last time - the first time - I was here. The chairs are in good condition and not shoddy or fraying, the furniture clean and functional. The lamps are modern, the ceiling lights hanging paper cocoons. By one of the windows is a cluster of round mirrors and I consider a traffic jam of piled cars, with no debris and no victims except the remnants of the mirrors reflecting back our privileged viewpoint of being the onlookers. My host points out his refrigerator, black plastic, saying one may not think it the best choice aesthetically. That one may not like it because stainless steel would be more now and tidy.
I admit to never having understood or cared about "design" until a couple years ago, years after attending art school. I admit that the idea of a book about architecture seems laughable, and he laughs. I laugh at my naïveté at admissions. I admit that in the past couple of years I have become obsessed with the idea of books about architecture. That in the past couple of years I have lived with three architects in their thirties, they made me laugh but not about buildings.
My host and I discuss aesthetics versus taste. We discuss partnership versus collaboration. Neither is the same as the other, neither requires nor creates the other. To collaborate with someone is to work together on a project with a finite life. To join with someone on a project is to acknowledge that at the end of the project the joining will become artifact, the partners independently separate. Dependency is either a condition or a constraint.
I wonder where the delegation of domestic life walks the line between partnership and collaboration. If I bring home the groceries and you unpack them to put them away, are we collaborating on restocking the kitchen or is this but an event in partnership? My role is, your role is.
We discuss phenomenology as not being possible in art.
The sunset is a phenomenon, but it cannot be authored as a piece of art.
Perhaps we need to consider how to author an event of art that produces no art product.
What is the ghost in the machine?
I am at the loft for almost four hours. This time when I leave he says, "We'll keep you."
I later receive a message from a friend of a friend who had lost interest in finding me interesting, as soon as I dismissed his ideas of meeting sexually. He asked me about getting my legs waxed and how old I was. His dependency is a constraint. He told me he required a lot of trust for what he wanted to do and I didn't care. We don't have a conversation now. "Thanks for a pointless interaction," he writes. I delete his messages with each one that comes in. He says coffee is always an option. He asks if I am in the city. I delete the conversation.
The purpose of my night is to attend a film screening and dinner. I know several friends who are there, several who can not make it. I am told by one friend that I can come over in the new year if he is not seeing someone new at that point. We can only be friends if he is single, and we know this from before. The question does not arise of what if I am the one to become un-single, and it did not come up before. I am consistently in collaboration but not in partnership, an entity and not a half.
Aesthetics (sense facts) are not the same as taste (preferences).
Preferences (vanity) are not the same as relations (constructions).
Constructions (aesthetic truths) are not the same as observations (preferential relations).