Toast and two boiled eggs: my method has been to drop the egg in boiling water and remove it when the toast is ready; Daniel generally lets his come to a boil with the water, and then remain in the boiling water for three and a half minutes. Today, through distraction, we risk disaster by mixing methods, putting the eggs in water that is neither fresh from the tap nor fully boiling. But through luck or intuition the eggs come out perfect.
Daniel reads over the first draft. Correx; some additions. But the overall form of the thing will stand. In a week our project has come some distance from the initial idea of a metalogue in the circulating, back and forth manner of Gregory and Mary Catherine Bateson. The form settled on (adapted from prose metafiction by Harry Mathews and David Markson) creates a distance between the words reported (Daniel's) and the reporting presence (mine). Rather than explicit dialogue, we'll have a meta-dialogue presenting my understanding of Daniel's words, something very different from what he said.
The principle at work: everything that happens in the document will have happened in actuality, although I may shift things around here and there for purposes of pacing. The Truth on Tape is not, after all, the truth on tape, not a literal record. A sign is not what it is.
We discuss the limits of a minimalist aesthetic. Daniel, no classic opera lover, would agree with his Landsmann, Adorno: opera is a feast for burghers. But Adorno also attacked Benjamin Britten for taking the opposite extreme. An apotheosis of meagerness, he called Britten's work, a kind of fast. Could not the same be said of Daniel's art?
Daniel acknowledges that minimalism can lead to a kind of Ärmlichkeit, where less is, quite simply, less. And that's how some people view his work. He suspects it's why Paul Klein stopped showing him in Chicago. For the gallery, Klein wants work with a little more flesh, more meat and blood, more decoration.
The problem with minimalist work is – where do you go with it? With his whites on white, in a sense, Roman Opalka brings minimalism to its end. Daniel thinks that at some point you have to find an escape, as Robert Ryman does. His hundreds of white paintings, though all different, all carry the identity of Robert Ryman. Rainer Giese, a suicide, never did escape the logic of minimalism. (His technique was to erase parts of the orange grid on transparent millimeter paper. He did the same in other works, working with traces of number and grid.)
What about all that you know, I ask. The very substantial worldly knowledge that I know Daniel possesses but that I don't always find in the work. Isn't it too much sacrifice to leave all that out?
He doesn't try to quote reality directly. He's influenced by the bulky packages taped shut with translucent tape in the sloppiest manner possible, that the Mexicans in his neighborhood send back to their families. But he doesn't want to recreate a taped Mexican package. He doesn't do pop art – it tells too much. You have an image of Elvis and you must then bring in the whole culture of Elvis, which doesn't interest Daniel. Then again, he's not interested in the meaning of the square, either.
What interests him would be a work that creates a bridge between the Mexican package, pop art, and geometric formalism.
The son of a scientist, a maker of categories, Daniel is working on the creation of a category for what cannot be categorized. His older brother, Thomas, a musician, once described himself as a vagabond between disciplines, a stray dog in the backyards of serious music. Daniel desires no more recognition than that, for himself as an artist.
(No recording of these discussions was ever made on tape).