To say that the works of Vilder shown in this exhibition are Mondrians set in motion would neither Go very far, nor would mean very much. However, if one insists upon evoquing Mondrian in the context of Vilders work, one can do it judiciously, as Tommaso Trini who wrote two years ago: MONDRIAN STARTS FROM A TREE TO BUILD A GEOMETRICAL ABSTRACTION, WHEREAS VILDER DEALS WITH THE OPTICAL RENDERING OF THE VITAL PULSATIONS OF THE SAME TREE. It would certainly be a mistake not to go beyond the geometry of vertical and horizontal lines in our interrogation of the work. Geometry is present only as a metaphor, and Vilder points out that EACH WORK IS AN ATTEMPT TO GRAP THE SECRETS OF LIFE.
Pierre Restany is right to speak of the RELENTLESS CROSSING OF THE PERPENDICULAR LINES: indeed the pieces of Vilder breathe and move in a slow, smooth and unform way. Whereas the cycle of the 1966 gear pieces was short, lasting through a single revolution of the elementary Gestalt wheel, it became longer in the expanding and contracting pieces that followed and longer still in the new works since 1970. Some of these would have to be in continuous operation for more than four years, twenty-four hours a day, for us to see them repeat a given configuration.
The scenario of verticals and horizontals that Vilder has organized offers us continuous movements along which there is no place for prime moments. The movements questions all the instantaneous states of the system. There is no particular instant where the orthogonal lines would offer proportions in the division of the surface that would be more harmonious or more interesting. Rather than in a particular stage, or a necessarily fugitive state of the configuration, it is in the system itself that we have to look for the source of q continued harmony that ties what is with what has just been and with what will be.
It was quite natural for Vilder to be attracted by the use of cinema and its temporality. As early as 1970, he conceived a film for which trial runs were made in video from the graphic screen of a computer in 1971, and the scenario of which was completed in 1972. It is an ambitious project, which no doubt will be extremely difficult to carry through.
But it deals with questions which are the heart of Vilders problematic, such as movement, cycle or the relation of the unit to the whole. A square made up of dots softens into an amoebic shape, only one dot remains visible and evolves into a bird, a cloud or birds, a flock of fish seen from the sky, a school of fish, one fish, a single scale which in turns becomes a dot that brings us back to the dots of the original square. This project calls for sophisticated transformation sequences which have to be carried out with the help of computer animation and there are important technical problems to be solved.
In addition Vilder has produced several short animated films and videotapes and the computer allowed him to create works that most often would have been impossible to achieve with conventional mechanical means. For example, the film which is shown during this exhibition depicts a square divided into a certain number of coloured rectangular areas the surfaces of which vary continuously. The film was conceived in 1971, prepared in 1972, shot a first time in 1973, re-shot in 1974 and finally edited in 1975. The difficulties of this completion demonstrate the energy and power of conviction needed to succeed in producing such a film outside the normal channels. Vilders work of the last ten years always remained of excellent quality.
The successive series of works were all fascinating and very powerful when they appeared and the older ones as well as the latest keep intact this power of conviction that so many kinetic works never had or promptly lost by being light or decorative gadgets. Vilder is a classic and his pieces work not as simple objects to view, but as objects of knowledge and tools for meditation with which one would want to live.
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