#458 When Matter Met Language
64x84 cm | Filler, oak panel
There is an untranslatable joke in Swedish that goes like this:
- There was a cow in a meadow.
- What was the punchline?
- The cow was in the meadow.
"In the meadow" in Swedish [på ängen] sounds the same as "punchline" [poängen]. I told you it was untranslatable.
I think of this work as a comic strip with two characters. The physical reality - Matter and the image, or Language. Matter (or reality) is outside Language (the frame) but has been given space in the picture to speak. However, the speech bubble is empty. Matter has no message; it is mute. But within a semantic framework, in the image, the lack of language appears as a message in itself, like a speaking silence.
We look for language in the world around us because we can only understand it by interpreting it. We project language onto reality. But language only forms a thin membrane around the matter. It does not penetrate. Only objects with an agency, who can think or act, can use language. The matter remains sealed. But even this absence, we fill with language, with signs of the secret, mysterious, sacred, ominous or utterly evil.
On the other hand, we need the material to use language. Nothing can be thought or expressed without being given a physical form. The matter is thus also a container for language. It is not of language, but language is in it.
The speech bubble in the picture can also be a latent form for the viewer to fill. Ultimately, it is always through the viewer's experience that each work of art comes into being. I'm not a stranger to the audience using this work, taking pictures of themselves next to it, so the speech bubble can become a container for their thoughts and whims.
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.