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Tales of the Rock and the Water


Tales of the Rock and the Water, 49°25'59.9'' N 2°21.373' W, 2019

'Tales of the Rock and the Water' probes the discrepancy between the visual information processed by our eyes and the sensory stimulus received by the body when viewing images that suggest a strongly tactile experience which remains unsatisfied by the act of looking. 

My thoughts revolved around the significance of digital media and digital realities for our current experience and definition of life. In our occular centric society that is by now seemingly inextricably linked with the digital realm, and in which it appears no longer possible to speak of the “physical world“ as true reality and the “digital world“ as some kind of imagined reality, what is it that constitutes a real experience? Is physical touch and the use of our other senses less important? Are we truly satisfied by an entirely visual experience? Do the visual experiences we consume equate to a physical experience, or is there something within the human condition that longs for an experience of temporal and locational significance? Is it important to have been to a place or is it sufficient to see it? 

And finally how are our desires driven and created by a lack that we experience during the consummation of a solely visual experience? In other words, does seeing something cause an action within the physical world, for example to go and travel to the place that until that point had only been pure image?

These travels then often include a ritualised taking of a new image, which includes the traveller and the place, thus situating the traveller within the image that had been consumed in the first place, addressing the lack that was experienced upon first viewing.  
Underlying these questions is a deeper consideration of exploitation; if viewing creates a lack in the viewer and the resulting anxiety causes them to act, then who produces images and what is shown in them becomes a key question to consider where deep power is situated and by whom it is exerted today. Are there  puppet masters to whose tune and plan the masses sing and perform? 

To explore these ideas I  began by relating sculpture to photography (a photographed sculpture produces a strong sense of lack, because a sculpture wants to be viewed from all angles and often requires touch, too). In addition I explored themes of surface in connection with its haptic qualities and themes of place and longing. 

I made the bulk of the main body of work within a week I spent on Sark. My son was interested in collaborating with me, as he had just made a decision to stop using his phone to which he felt he had become addicted during a difficult first year at university. He had been spending an average of six hours a day on his phone alone in addition to other screen time gaming. He was angry and frustrated with himself but also determined to find change and hungry for a meaningful encounter and  re-connection with the physical world around him, like so many young adults at this time.

The work is realized as a concertina book which takes on sculptural qualities when it is displayed as free standing. There is an insert book, CODA, which contains the code for a single digital image. CODA considers the importance of translation, language, storage and transmittance of meaning and information.

As the viewer interacts with the smooth, dry pages of the book, the haptic expectation created by the images (wet, cold, hard, complex) stands in contradiction to the actual haptic experience realised.

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