A noema is the object, or content, of a thought. But can we see the content of thought? Yes. Throughout history we’ve made many pictures of these ‘thought-objects’, often calling them ‘diagrams’. But the story of the diagram is quite different from the traditional history of art. Because they escape easy categorization, diagrams are everywhere, in corporate boardrooms and schools, in sports, dance and warfare, in art, philosophy, science, magic and everything in between. Instead of likeness, the diagram pursues liveliness; instead of making images, it stimulates the imagination.

For ESMoA’s next experience, ‘NOEMA’, the history of these unique ‘thought-drawings’ comes to life and is celebrated on a super-sized scale. This exhibition includes the first complete presentation of The Temptation of the Diagram, the apt title of Matthew Ritchie’s five year long collaboration with the Getty Research Institute, which includes a 27’ limited edition, that maps the entire history of human diagrams, an accompanying artists book, a 160’ immersive room-sized version of the edition, and an evolving group show of remarkable diagrams. As the 2012 Artist in Residence at the GRI, Ritchie explored the monumental history of diagrams, delving into the Special Collections. For this show, the GRI has generously lent a selection of 15 rare books illustrating how the concept of a ‘noema’ has changed over time, ranging from Isaac Newton’s Optics (London, 1704) to Thomas Malton’s A Compleat Treatise on Perspective (London, 1778) and Marcel Duchamp’s A l’infinitif (New York, 1966). In addition, Ritchie has added a selection of contemporary artists’ and scientists diagrams to complement the historical works on show.

At ESMoA, these historical and contemporary works will be embedded inside ‘NOEMA’, a gigantic, interactive version of this extraordinary project, where the walls and floor will be covered with an abstracted master history of diagrams and attached to diagrammatic sculptures. Dancers, interacting with the sculptures, will make scheduled performances and encourage the audience to participate and provide the diagrammatic exclamation mark.

You are invited to become a noema, a thought-object, a living diagram!