Stanisław Dróżdż


The changes continuously affecting different areas of human activity and transforming our reality, which are significant determiners of the development of our consciousness and, consequently, our attitude to reality cannot remain unnoticed by art. The situation which has arisen here generates a demand for a new aesthetics which focuses on intellectual rather than sensual aspects, adjusted to current circumstances and favourable to immediate contacts with art, which contacts would be far from elitist and more direct than ever before. This would condition the formation of a new aesthetic consciousness which would approve of the aesthetics based mainly on mathematics and logics as the criteria which are more objective and universal than the cultural and historical ones and which result from subjective individual or collective tastes which test the value and usefulness of a work of art integrated with science. Traditional aesthetic criteria seem to be increasingly insufficient and non-operational as our desire to know the truth makes us more willing to rely on our knowledge and understanding rather than on our feelings, which are irrational and not objectively justified.

        A work of art, in the name of objectivised verifiability and increasing exclusion of the inconsistent and accidental, must be defined by universal and precise determiners-indicators which intensify the artistic and cognitive aggression to such an extent that there is no escape into narrow, unverifiable and subjective irrationalities. The information conveyed by a work of art must be undisputedly accepted by the recipient who must become, regardless of their will, absolutely subordinated to and overwhelmed by this information as a part of the reality covered by it. This is the added value of art because the recipient will be forced to find themselves, directly or otherwise, in a work of art. This will be an individual and objective test of its value, proving its usefulness for the process of signalling and introducing a new reality into the consciousness of the viewer who, in this situation, will become aware of himself.

        Such a process of objectivising the reality of art in terms of its subject and object cultivates the human ability to think, which precedes knowledge. It is not erudition or cultural and aesthetical sensitivity to the products of foreign psycho-personality but rather extended subjectivity which hinders communication, no matter how difficult it is itself, and such a perspective, in the times of inconceivably wide and constantly increasing knowledge, is really promising.

        Structural poetry, originating from strictly rational sources of mathematics and cybernetics, is the literary genre which introduces these general aesthetic postulates in practice. Although these postulates are difficult themselves, when encoded into language, they become widely accessible and render language precise and consistent. This language, being the language of poetry and communication shortcut, is not, due to its mechanised precision, a strictly literary language. The tension between graphic systems of signs and systems of meanings outlines or discloses itself by means of the key-title. The problems of the contemporary human being living in a constant hurry and under time pressure as well as the changes to his personality caused by these factors, indicate that such a concise and communicative form of conveying information is becoming really indispensable. Using in its mainstream the word, which, owing to its availability, is the widest means of communication, concrete poetry does not reduce itself only to purely linguistic effects. On the contrary, aware of the mechanisms of its own material, it applies it for diverse purposes in the linguistic and extra-linguistic, i.e. artistic mode.
        The basic determiners of this material are a systems of stereotypes and mechanised structures with only apparently narrowing means of expression, which can be efficiently applied for the revaluation of conventional means of expression of poetry. Therefore, if we consider any new means of expression in this field, we automatically approach a new content or a content which has been formed anew. It does not have to, unlike science, provide a thorough analysis of the problem; it is enough if it signalises it to the recipient who decides on the intensity of the reception, consisting in ‘creating a poetic text’ which is preceded by the foundation of its ‘record’.

        Applying abstraction, which enables us to systematise concrete reality, provides us, besides its wide, universalising field of signification, with an additional asset. Namely, it shortens the perception cycle by removing the first stage, i.e. the viewer’s ‘wandering’ from ‘the concrete’ created by the author to ‘the abstract’ expressed by this ‘concrete’. Therefore, there are only two stages left: from ‘the abstract’ of the author to ‘the abstract’ of the recipient and from ‘the abstract’ of the recipient to ‘the concrete’ of the recipient.

        Concrete and structural poetry may and should be created and evaluated not only by those who are intentionally engaged in literary creation but also anyone acquainted with the basic principles of the material which this poetry operates with.

        My ‘concept-shapes’, which graphically concretise the material shape of the concept determined by scientific premises but not result from an imprecise (subjective) act of artistic creation, formally belong to this literary trend. They are a kind of ‘record’ of an abstract character integrated in terms of its form and content as feedback. These ‘records’, which refer to structures of abstract notions, are universal in terms of their designative capacity and facilitate expressing timelessness and independence of place. Their temporal and spatial relations, while they do not refer to every single ‘record’, may be approached against the time-space axis, which would generate their positively apparent dynamics and spatial aspect.

        The verifiability of the text in terms of, for instance, its cognitive value, so hard to measure and subjective in the case of ordinary poetry, is far simpler in the case of concept-shapes often endowed with mathematical or logical formulas, which may function as their exponents or mottoes, thereby allowing their thorough evaluation. The significations systems of concept-shapes, although they remain open, are preceded by mathematical and logical exponents which revaluate, or more precisely, modernise, a word devaluated in literary language, through leading it to such a state in which it would mean so much that it would eventually cease to mean anything at all. It would cease to ‘lie’ but would serve exclusively as an inter-subjective associative sign of individual content and would be understood in a particular communication situation only through analogy.

        As for their visual form, the concept-shapes may resemble calligrams but that is only an apparent similarity as the calligrams are only ‘self-illustrating’ works, whereas concept-shapes, being also ‘self-analysing records’ are more functional cognitively.

        Therefore, concept-shapes are the codifiers of reality, synthetic in terms of its form and content like ideograms, integrating science (mathematics, logics) and arts (poetry, visual arts) which once were unified and are nowadays inclining to reunification. These are works developed on the borderline of these two realms. Within minimum form they convey maximum content and enrich our expressive capabilities with new functions, leading even towards a perspective of poetry, an international language, where translation, due to the uniqueness, abstractness and symbolism of means of expression, would be simpler or even completely unnecessary.

The text published in the monthly journal “Odra”, no. 12/1968 as a self-commentary to the exhibition of Stanisław Dróżdż’s works in the Gallery Pod Moną Lisą, which was held in December, 1968 as part of the join show of Zbigniew Makarewicz and Stanisław Dróżdż. It was reprinted in the catalogue of his solo exhibition: Structural Poetry. Concept-Shapes, odNowa Gallery in Poznań, in March and April, 1969.