#263 Empty Hollow

64x84 cm | Filler, oak frame

  • About

    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.

  • Tablet

    To the mind, a word is always also an image. Language connects to categories and clusters of information that projects an internal image when triggered. 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, as vision usually stems from physical reality, so does also words, written or spoken. Nothing ever communicates without being inscribed into a matter of some sort. The stuff surrounding us is also what connects us; without it, we would be completely sealed off. How, or in what way, words inserts 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 reflects on who we are, it can also help to reveal unconscious or hidden meanings.

    The first written words were inscribed 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 change the receiver forever. The receiver usually processes the reception, but he or she will never be the same as before. It is no coincident that many of the first examples of texts are curses, prayers or laws — different ways of trying to influence reality.

  • Template

    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.


If you have any questions about anything regarding my works, please don´t hesitate to contact me!

Johan Söderström | Grenseveien 9b, Oslo, Norway | t. +47 41 355 355 | jodsoderstrom@gmail.com

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©Johan Söderström 2015