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Slobodan Trajković, artist and scholar. Two: On Motion.

Excerpt two: On Motion. From Slobodan Trajković's book Embodiment*. Trajković is artist and scholar, who had began his career in the late 1970s and has an extensive practice to this day. He exhibits internationally, and works and lives in London and Belgrade.

Dancing dog - 2, video stills. 2010.

We noticed long ago that a finished house has no predisposition for motion, because it is completed and, as such, represents a static object in space. As opposed to it, motion expresses another reality, the one which shows that “what is being built is buildable”, thereby confirming that building is the same as motion. This is where we recognise the principle – if something is to move, it must move “from opposite to opposite”. This is what Isaac Newton noted down in the 17th century as one of three natural laws, as the foundation of natural philosophy and classical mechanics. Therefore, according to that law, each object remains relatively still until another object forces it to move.

Furthermore, motion is the acceleration of an object commensurate with the forces that exert influence upon it, and is inversely proportionate to its mass. And the third law says that one object exerts force on another with equal intensity and from the opposite direction. All the three laws governing motion can be recognised in the psychology of man as well. Freud studied an individual in a similar manner, first in relation to other individuals; then how that individual becomes dynamic after becoming socially conditioned, and thirdly through the individual’s behaviour in economic relations with other people, when everyone works for himself, meeting with others where their common interests coincide.

In addition to the above-mentioned laws, there exist two more kinds of motion that explain its phenomenology: real and possible motion.

However, regardless of which type of motion it is, mutuality in linking with opposites is their common denominator. It occurs in terms of substance, quantity and size, in a change of our mood or in movement from hot to cold, from inhaling to exhaling air, or from ignorance to knowledge and so forth – always with the common characteristic of being subject to motion. It would be simplest to say that motion is the opposite of stillness, but such thinking would lead us to divisions wherein we would speak about the reality of the physical world while omitting to say something about the invisible one, that the streaming of air in our body is invisible, but that is has the power to produce sound, which is also invisible.

Basically, each motion represents changing of one form into another. “Consequently, there exist as many forms of motion and changes as there are kinds of reality.”[1] Just like every object has the possibility of existing as reality one moment and not existing the next, for each motion presupposes changing form from one to another, even though that change may be accidental. For example, a change of mood or even a change of opinion about a certain phenomenon. But when we think, then only our consciousness can recognise them as states, whereby the process of motion gets its meanings and its purpose.

That is why we say that we are constantly in motion and that we change in the course of that motion. We initiate changes not only by changing a thought we previously had but also through the posture and tension of the body, creating a predisposition for a new direction of our attention, for each change of state carries the cause of its previous change in its appearance. I would say the same as Henri Bergson, “I conclude first of all that I pass from one state to another,”[2], but this passing from one state to another does not mean creating separate wholes as well, but creating a continual reality that shows in motion our lesser or greater presence in relation to what is happening to us. Those wholes are, as Bergson saw them poetically, like pearls linked by a thread, no less firm, but invisible. Therefore, the perception of “a fluid mass of our psychological events” and their seemingly intermittent nature, caused by constant “unforeseen” phenomena, does not show the absence of our interest in what is immanent but inability to resist them. Their subsequent linking into new wholes, which is brought about “artificially”, will be the creation of our mind.

Thinking about motion and relations of wholes can be found in metaphysics, in the philosophy of Parmenides, Heraclitus, Plato and Aristotle. Parmenides claimed in his doctrine of Being that changes and motion are illusory and deceptive. “Our feeling tells us that there is a change, but the truth will be found not in our feeling but in our reason and thought.”[3] Contrary to his doctrine, Heraclitus’s teaching advocated an opposite view. To him, motion is reality and stability is an illusion. His saying that “You cannot enter the same river twice” represents the view that everything flows and everything moves. He said that what is natural is inseparable, it is linked through the principle of reality in changes.

Later, Aristotle solved Parmenides’s dilemma about the impossibility of motion in space presenting it as a theory of potentials. Of particular interest to him was Parmenides’s theory of motion from one point to another, thus stressing the assumption of potentials. “He points out that it is no contradiction to say that a thing is X actually but Y potentially. It is X, but is going to be Y in the future in virtue of potentiality, which is not simply nothing, yet is not actual being.”[4] If everything constantly happens in motion, and that motion always represents its potential, then our very Being is also potential. Furthermore, if our Being is in the transit of potential, then it is infinite, for it represents potential, not itself.


*Slobodan Trajković, Embodiment, 2005-2015 Works and Events, Cicero Belgrade, 2017.

Copyright © 2017 by Slobodan Trajković

This book can be purchased privately by enquiring at


[1] Aristotel [Aristotle], “O kretanju [On Motion]”, Metafizika [Metaphysics], BIGZ, Belgrade, 1971, p. 272.

[2] Anri [Henri] Bergson, “O evoluciji života – mehanizam i celishodnost [On the Evolution of Life – Mechanism and Purposefulness]”, Stvaralačka evolucija [Creative Evolution], Karijatide, 1932, Belgrade, p. 29.

[3] “Sense tells us that there is change, but truth is to be sought, not in sense, but in reason and thought.” Frederick Copleston, “Chapter VI, The One of Parmenides and Melissus”, A History of Philosophy, Image Books, 1993, p. 52.

[4] Ibid., p. 52.