Infrathin as a Social Reality

Infrathin was a term first coined by Marcel Duchamp. His fascination with the possible, infinites, the gaps, the in-between, the space wherein invention can take place led him to the discovery of the Infrathin. He says that it’s impossible to define, and infact seems to reject definition, and therefore in his posthumous notes 1-46, Duchamp uses a number of examples to describe the Infrathin.

“The possible is an infrathin”

“gratuitousness of the little weight”

“The warmth of a seat (which has just / been left) is infra-thin

Meditating on this, I considered my own interpretation of what the Infrathin could be. These are my reflections:

This book object is one which folds out into three panels. The left side contains 'notes' that brings to light facets of infrathin as a social reality. The middle is a compilation of essays that I've found as well as my own writings. The essays collected discuss in more depth aspects of this concept through performance, photography and writing. And the right panel consists of images that correspond to the notes on the left. Each picture can be matched with the notes by looking at the bottom page number. Or, the viewer can play with the order, mix them up and see how the images and the notes may relate.

Infrathin as a social reality is a concept that I stumbled upon whilst immersed in a series of TED talks. This is something that I’ve personally always struggled with and something that I’ve tried multiple times to infiltrate and endure.

The idea of living in between my life and the lives of others, trying to bridge the gap between whatever it is that separates one from another—whether that be language, class, prejudices, interests, ignorance, privilige—is a place wherein I feel like I’ve always existed (mostly through sporadic spurts of impassioned emotionalism and bewildered cries for action).

And it’s not a pretty place, it’s not a glamorous place, in fact it’s a place that tends to make people want to stay away from you, not let conversations become too serious, too real, too uncomfortable. And I think that’s the real defining aspect of it. It’s uncomfortable—extremely uncomfortable—and for many obliviousness is the path well worn. People claim powerlessness, inadequacy, ineffectiveness, but no action is without effect just as light cannot exist without darkness. So in exploring this gap in our social reality, the line between me and you, a place wherein the dominant vehicle of movement is empathy and each trip across these boundaries is a journey of endurance and perseverence as well as a tad of curiosity but mostly the requirement of a heart resiliant to suffering, and a iron resolve that this space, this infrathin gap in our social realities is one that needs to be compressed, and folded in on itself until the social gap between you and I is nought but a hairs breadth.

So in as we approach this impending inevitable stride towards World Unity, we are compelled to analyze the nuances of where the borders that we need to cross prevail and which bridges of understanding must be built. The following compilation of essays, photographs, stills and anlaysis are an attempt, however futile, to examine these spaces, this infrathin within our social realities.

“Unification of the whole of mankind is the hall-mark of the stage which human society is now approaching. Unity of family, of tribe, of city-state, and nation have been successively attempted and fully established. World unity is the goal towards which a harassed humanity is striving. Nation-building has come to an end. The anarchy inherent in state sovereignty is moving towards a climax. A world, growing to maturity, must abandon this fetish, recognize the oneness and wholeness of human relationships, and establish once for all the machinery that can best incarnate this fundamental principle of its life.”—Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith