130x170 cm | 4 panels, 64x84 cm each | Filler, oak frames
The title refers to a word constructed by the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. It relates to formulas similar to those used in mathematics and logic, but instead, they describe specific areas within his theories about the human psyche and its relationship to the outside world. The purpose is pedagogical, to simplify the transfer of knowledge.
Language does not necessarily refer to phenomena we can experience. It can also be used about purely abstract concepts. That is words that describe ideas completely within the register of language. The problem is that they must also be given a physical form to function as communication. The abstract content they denote thus gives its visual form, paradoxically, even greater significance. The signs become more clearly a part of the material world through their strictly conceptual content.
The characters depicted in the work ($ <> a) are Lacan's matheme for imagination. It is pronounced that the barred subject is in relation to the object-cause of desire (objet petit a). $ symbolizes not only the division of the subject into a conscious and subconscious self but also its experience of lack. Of missing a fundamental part that would make it complete. It is this part that the subject consciously or subconsciously imagines (re)encountering in specific objects or phenomena in the world. But these can never correspond to the inner expectation, and the subject thus finds itself in an insoluble, "impossible" relationship with them. This formula can be described as the primordial driving force behind all human activity, beyond purely physiological urges.
Personally, I experience it denoting my own relationship, as an artist, to art in general and to my own art in particular. But since the symbol signifying the barred subject is also the sign of American dollars, the formula can just as easily describe that it is, in fact, art and capital that are in an (impossible) relationship with each other.
o 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.
Res Ipsa is a compilation of works made by an act shaping the filler once it is prepared inside the frame. The works thus function as a recording device and give a statement of the event taking place while the filler was still wet.
Res Ipsa is Latin for "the thing itself" and is part of the juridical term "Res ipsa loquitur" (the thing speaks for itself), used when an injury or accident in itself clearly shows who is responsible, such as an instrument left inside a body after surgery.
See a video of me presenting this work in its premier public appearance here.
This work is on commission by Buer Gallery. For inquiries please contact the gallery.