Arian’s Modular Polyptych Distills Political Economy, Visual Hermeneutics, and Ichthyology into a Total Work of Art

Arian Bagheri Pour Fallah at Miami Art Week 2022 - I

It is with great pleasure to announce the public reveal of ‘Modular Polyptych (Electroreception and Electrogenesis)’ by Arian Bagheri Pour Fallah, known mononymously as Arian, at Miami Art Week 2022.

Part of Arian’s Total Work of Art (Gesamtkunstwerk/Teilkunstwerk), ‘FISKS,’ Polyptych has been made available in limited editions at Artsy, organized by Shim Art Network.

The piece marks a new chapter in Arian’s work and research on ‘modular media,’ presented at and published by Cambridge University Press, Royal Musical Association (RMA), Ars Electronica, among others.

FISKS follows closely Arian’s previous TWoA, MENSCH (2019-Ongoing). Since the end of his time as artist-in-residence at the Stiftung Künstlerdorf Schöppingen where MENSCH was initially realized, Arian’s whereabouts have remained unknown in what founder, senior bioinformatics scientist and artist, Ashkan Zareie, compares to Joseph Mallord William Turner’s 1841 rowing in the Thames to avoid the census. The decision, however, owes more to ‘Integral Sprawl,’ an intricate work of lived literature presented in part at the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) earlier this year.

The way in which the three works converge is through the main character, played by yet subtly distinguished from Arian’s own persona, best exemplified in the premiere of Wraithportrait from earlier last month. While several modules including found subjects remain of the character on site, in NRW, Germany, à la a missing person, Arian himself has been moving indefinitely, in remote urban and non-urban spaces ranging from monasteries to observatories, at times with no access to the Internet. and THE STIE teams have been closely documenting this unprecedented work, along with the artist himself, through ways to be only unveiled in time.

Indeed, the Total Work of Art as envisioned in FISKS, MENSCH and SPRAWL, has been compared to Heizer’s City, even if Arian remains in disagreement with the former’s philosphy. As such, the works approach time in a singular way, spanning years if not decades without either shutting out the general public or embracing social media, through careful reconfigurations of authorship, community and ethos (abode/character), beyond the scope of participatory art and relational aesthetics.

Specifically, the subject at the center of SPRAWL has been contemporary Silicon Valley’s ‘exit,’ popularized by Balaji Srinivasan. While the gallery and museum status quo mindlessly reproduce a politically-adjusted yet fundamentally intact simulacrum of the tropes in this view (see Serpentine Gallery, MoMA), in SPRAWL, Arian offers a close counter-analysis, revealing Srinivasan’s lightweight conjecture, including exit itself, hastily appropriated from Albert O. Hirschman, with little to no indication of the thinker’s emphasis on and proclivity for ‘voice,’ at times verging on Hegelianism.

Arian’s performance was interwoven into his career as well as life. Both the public and the people closest to him have since remained unaware of his whereabouts, for the fragment, Twelve Seats. A year later, speaking virtually at the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), without disclosing his whereabouts, Arian presented research results into ‘creative AIs’ e.g., OpenAI’s Dall-E 2, emphasizing consciousness, contra creativity, as man’s unique capacity. ‘The creator economy’ represents the future of the Internet, in Arian’s research, redeemable only by ‘the category of art,’ for in its current algorithmic cultural makeup, the Internet renders people ‘on the same ontological plane as machines.’

The strange yet irrefutable link between the ‘liberating’ forces of the creator economy and the slavish vicious circles of social media may in fact affirm Ashkan’s earlier analogy. That the Information Age with which Arian is concerned and the Industrial Age of Turner share the same episteme: people. In Ashkan’s view, the ‘rugged individualists,’ who ‘absent themselves from the census on principle,’ per The National Archives, were ‘not unlike the libertarian San Franciscans of today who exit to Singapore,’ except in Arian and in Turner’s cases, one is concerned with artists risking their lives to shun the crowd and state. Whereas, Srinivasan’s political exit, if at all permitting anyone other than influencers and politicians, who conversely seek to shape the crowd and form the state, would cultivate ‘creators’ not artists, a distinction Arian himself asserts to be of growing anthropological import.

‘It is ironic,’’s Ashkan remarks, that ‘Hirschman helped artists and intellectuals, from Ernst to Arendt, escape Fascism, gave them voice through U.S. visas, and now his ideas are being reduced to abstractions like code is law. What does code do for someone risking his life? Nothing.’ If not part of the free world, exit is as illusory a notion as with any other, as SPRAWL vividly demonstrates— ‘without voice, exit means nothing.’

Arian Bagheri Pour Fallah - Modular Polyptych (Electroreception and Electrogenesis)

One thing is for certain. Neither Arian nor Turner show interest in critique alone but in producing art. In lived literature, the performance and the récit act but as starting points for individually-crafted, sensory artworks, and Polyptych is no exception.

The piece follows a structural study of the religious practice and techniques of panel painting and altarpieces in tandem with the secular sciences of ichthyology and oceanography. Unlike Arian’s previous rethinkings of land and performance art with MENSCH and SPRAWL, FISKS may be viewed as undertaking the more thematic, aesthetic field of marine art, yet equally grounded in relation to the Informational Space.

For it, the Lothair Crystal, a key piece of Carolingian art, was studied corresponding to Arian’s time spent in or near monasteries during SPRAWL, emphasizing the reciprocity between place (ethos) and the character of an artwork, present through broader Carolingian art especially in relation to monasteries. Also called the Susanna Crystal, in reference to the narrative of Susanna from the Book of Daniel, the piece further brings to fore narrative. In Polyptych and FISKS, visual hermeneutics denote techniques such as using the distinction between ‘cut (σχίσει)’ and ‘saw (πρίσαι)’ in the récit, so as to structure the visual modules in the récit, and from there, the artworks (modulations).

In line with modular media, the modules purposely hide and interface one another. That is, collectors may ‘uncoil’ formally different pieces, hence the Total Work of Art. This stems, among others, from the separation of form from space, in Arian’s work.

The piece’s subtitle, ‘Electroreception and Electrogenesis’, aside from its direct place in ethology, recurring in Arian’s monograph, From Living Currency to Moribund Space, informs how the modules are spatially mapped. In the musical subset of modular media, récit music, i.e., extended acousmatics/electroacoustic music, the process follows the same procedure as with spatial bricolages and the musical rooms mapped in MENSCH.

The hermeneutical meeting point of the two works is Matthew 4:19, linking FISKS (Gothic 𐍆𐌹𐍃𐌺𐍃) and MENSCH (‘Fishers of Men’), through the Two Peters, Saint Peter from FISKS and Peter Wust from MENSCH. Arian’s final absent link is a contemporary of Handel, whose Susanna (HWV 66) is integrative. The complete written récit, along with the uncoiled modules, will deal with the subjects in depth, starting after the collection of the 7th and last edition of Polyptych.

Arian Bagheri Pour Fallah at Miami Art Week 2022 - II

Other coincident and/or topical subjects include Romain Rolland’s sentiment océanique (oceanic feeling). In the récit, Arian writes about Rolland’s sentiment océanique as it relates to the communal and the quasi-religious permeating narrative economics and web3.

Polyptych is one of the select NFTs available for collection during Miami Art Week 2022, following Arian’s early appraisal as de facto denomination of future artworks, recurringly affirmed ever since, in the Frank Stella exhibit, among many others.

The work is furthermore authored sous rature (under erasure), in line with Arian’s novel approach to Creative Commons, termed Artistic Commons 0 (AC0) hence the strikethrough in the flyer. Tokens double as entry keys into THE SITE.

To collect an edition, see Artsy.

For all on-location activities, see Art Miami and Aqua Art within walking distance of Art Basel Miami.