#263 Empty Hollow
64x84 cm | Filler, oak frame
The Thud experiment, or Rosenham experiment, was conducted by David Rosenham in 1973. In it, eight "pseudopatients" including Rosenham himself feigned auditory hallucinations to get themself admitted to different psychiatric hospitals. The words they claimed to hear was Empty, Hollow and Thud. All were admitted. Read more about the experiment here.
To hear voices is one of the most distinct signs of mental illness, used to diagnose psychosis or schizophrenia. For language to function as a tool for communication, we rely on a relatively stable shared physical reality, to which words can relate. We also need an apparent sender of messages, a subject with an individual voice, speaking from a specific point of view, defined by boundaries that separate it from the rest of the world.
The Thud experiment criticised the mental institutions and the psychiatric discipline, and one point it made was that to be released, the patients had to confirm their diagnose. This shows that the common perception of reality, the Symbolic order, can be understood as an authoritative ideology, which needs to be at least verbally accepted but preferably internalised, by any individual in order to enter society. In my view, the institutions didn't make any mistake by admitting the pseudopatients. It may instead show how much our society relies on a successful transference of our subconscious impulses into a subjective narrative that "makes sense". To keep The Real at bay, we need to symbolise properly it's chaotic and fluid nature into a structured and rational language.
To the mind, a word is always also an image. In that sense, understanding words function no different than normal perception. When we see, images are constructed inside the mind. We never perceive reality objectively or in itself. Perception is an interpretation and thus consist of language, in the same manner as understanding words.
However, to use language, we have to speak or write it. We have to realize it. Nothing ever communicates without being inscribed into a matter of some sort. But how words are inserted into reality affects how we perceive them. Thus reality itself seeps into language. There exists no clear or unmediated communication. Matter adds to the message. Because which matter we choose to communicate through, and how we shape it, reflects on who we are, it can reveal unconscious or hidden meanings.
Humans inscribed the first written words in stone or clay. One of the purposes was to save them for the future, to protect them from the volatility of time. To speak, or to write, is always to some extent, an act of power. The receiver must initially submit his or her attention to the message. No matter how insignificant, its meaning will always in some way change the receiver forever.
There is a constant tension between language and reality as matter. The human subject is defined by an individual will, as opposed to the strict causality of nature. This will strive to be expressed through language. Maybe self-awareness is a result of language at use. Language as a way for the ego to invent itself, to inscribe itself into the world. It is no coincident that many of the first examples of texts are curses, prayers, laws or inventories — different ways of trying to influence and master reality.
Tablet series is part of Template, a compilation of works made by using pieces of wooden plates as templates. They function as a mould or matrix for the finished work.
Reminiscent of Richard Serra's Verb List I try to use simple and clearly defined actions to shape the filler in my works. This method ensures there is always non-cognitive aspects of the production process.