23 Chunks of Being:
Gregory Grieve’s Experiments in Transmitting Pure actuality
3D-print, and gold-leaf
Mighty, majestic, and radiant,
You shine brilliantly in the evening,
You brighten the day at dawn,
You stand in the heavens like the sun and the moon,
Your wonders are known both above and below,
To the greatness of the Holy Priestess of Heaven,
To you, Inanna, I sing!
—Prayers to Inanna, the Queen of Heaven
Throughout his life, Grieve’s meta-question has been: “How is it that sign-systems capture lived reality?” How do marks on a page, daubs of paint on a canvas, or even these pixels on a screen engage the pure actuality of existence? His meta-answer is the dinĝir (𒀭), the Sumerian sign for the Devine and marks for Grieve when language breaks down (selbst überschlägt), and we are left with the overwhelming pure actuality of lived existence.
Originally the sign dinĝir was created with four strokes of a stylus into wet clay, Grieve’s sign-object is 3D printed and then gold plated. Historically, the dinĝir by itself was an ideogram for the Sumerian word “an” —"sky" or "heaven,” but now has no pronunciation, and is rather employed as the determinative for religious names and related concepts. Modern European languages conventionally transliterate dinĝir as a superscript "d" as in dInanna, a goddess who is associated with love, beauty, sex, war, justice, and political power and other creative acts, such as art.
The current “ * ” (asterisk)can be traced back to the dinĝir, and means “little star” from the Late Latin asteriscus, from Ancient Greek ἀστερίσκος. Asterisks indicate something that lies elsewhere and by design defers meaning to later. For Grieve, the * also stands in for the Algerian-born French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s concept of différance which indicates that language always already creates a "difference and deferral of meaning." Our understanding is generated because of a sign objects difference from other signs in a signifying system, and at the same time, meaning is inevitably and infinitely deferred or postponed, and is constantly under erasure and can be glimpsed only through “*” or deadlocks in understanding. The dinĝir undermines the unity and coherence of an art object when a deconstructive reading is performed. Consequently, meaning is disseminated across the object and can be found only in traces, in the unending chain of signification. In the free play of meanings, one signifier leads to a signified, which itself becomes a signifier for another signified and so on, such that the ultimate signified (<<*>>), that which transcends all signifiers, is never attained.
4a. Untitled (2015)
Pencil on Paper
Sprinkled Throughout Grieve’s work are images of cephalopods. They correspond closely with his use of the dinĝir, and in a similar way, indicate the horizon of understanding and comprehension. However, while the dinĝir points up to divine transcendence, the octopus points down, with its tenticalling wiggliness, to an abject form of transgression. Grieve claims this has nothing to do with H. P. Lovecraft’s cosmic entity Cthulhu, and that “I just likes octopi,” but there are obvious similarities and borrowings, even if unintendedly on Grieve’s part.