VESA, an open container
Series of sculptures & texts written by Calum Bowden, Susannah Eloise Haslam, Martha McGuinn & Jelena Viskovic.
“VESA, an open container”, ArtEZ, Arnhem (NL), 2017
Dimensions: ‘VESA 100/200’: w.75 x h.61 x d.42 cm; ‘VESA 50/75’: w.65 x h.43 x d.23 cm; VESA 100/200: w.63 x h.79 x d.35 cm; ‘VESA 75/100’: w.47 x h.40 x d.19 cm
Materials: clear epoxy, PLA prints, MDF, nylon, stainless steel
With support from ArtEZ
Photo credits Juuke Schoorl
An installation showcasing a series of monitor stands decorated with ornamentation derived from found 3D models of flowers. The stands are exhibited on tall plinths and left bare – without any screens – the ornamental decoration becoming the only function of the objects. Pieces of fabric covered with encyclopedic, manual, and narrated texts hang in the background, forcing correlations with the objects’ newly given purpose.
Developed and produced during a residency at ArtEz in the Netherlands, the work results from research on bas-relief, an ornamental sculptural technique that reduces matter from an object to allow smaller details to appear. It explores the use of bas-relief as a tool to challenge ontological interpretation, favouring a ‘visual voyage’ through its materiality – similarly to Medici vases empty of flowers. In this project, the monitor stand becomes symbolic of an era of digitisation, forcing attention back onto the physical realm.
"The TV stand is an adjustable Frame with metal plates on to which a screen can be bolted. It is a complicated and technical piece of Furniture that must be respected and approached with an understanding of the user’s limitations and capabilities. The TV stand can be moved and adjusted to different heights and angles depending on the user’s mood, purpose and aesthetic style. We will begin by learning the first steps of how this can be achieved. Allen keys, screwdrivers and hands are all appropriate and necessary tools to use when adjusting a TV stand. It is essential to have free and ready access to all three when interacting with one. There are many bolts on a TV stand which can be wound in by making sure that the hand is on the correct sized allen key or appropriate screwdriver to fit the end of the bolt, and then by locating the head of the tool on the end of the bolt. (Please note that there are many different types of bolt which may demand a different tool). If the tool will not locate to the end of the bolt, it must be replaced and another tool chosen. This process can be repeated until the correct tool is found. Once the hand, the tool and the bolt are all locked into one another, the hand can be turned, which then turns the tool, which then turns the bolt. A clockwise movement is necessary to complete this move. Keep an even and constant pressure on the tool whilst undertaking this task, but remember to loosen the grip slightly when the wrist is unable to turn further, then relocate the tool and continue. If the bolt is wound in too far it will feel tight and become impossible to move. Do not force it to move once this resistance begins. An over tight bolt may cause the TV stand to crack or warp, making it impossible to adjust. Once you understand how to tighten the bolt, the reverse process is straightforward. The hand must begin the movement by twisting now to the left in an anti-clockwise motion. Different bolts on the TV stand will produce different results, so make sure that you familiarise yourself with each one and take the time to practice and understand the way that each behaves. There are many holes in the metal of the TV stand which must be lined up in order to screw in a bolt. This may prove confusing at first, but patience and practice are key here. The benefits of getting to know your TV stand will far outweigh the time spent to do so. Once you become acquainted with these processes, you may move on to Stage Two on which we will discuss possible movements and adjustments to the Frame itself."
Text by Martha McGuinn
'Bob felt slightly uneasy as he sat down in the sun at the side of the public swimming pool next to a fake socialist bas relief of some old national swimming champion, made out of coal. The philosopher was on the stand again, telling his story about the fire to a small crowd of a few people willing to listen. Today he started his speech with explicitly describing an intimate moment between a couple of bathers twenty years ago in the sauna. He said this was one of the most important moments of the days of freedom. Bob agreed. If he would have met Alice at the swimming pool instead of swiping through Tinder, everything would have been easier between them. But this was before the fire of course. Just as any other public space, the swimming pool also contained a relic from the fire. The philosophers role was to inform the public about the myth of this particular relic. Bob seemed uninterested to hear the story, he didn’t believe in the power of relics.'
Text by Jelena Viskovic
"I am a tv stand. Or I was a tv stand. There is no tv resting on my glossy black surface. Ever since screens were squashed, flat packed, wall mounts came in fashion. The lumpy heavy cathode ray no longer the retina of the mind’s eye. The liquid crystal display can float. Even carried and held. A rectangular window into that more real world. Once, I was inseparable from the tube. The centre piece of the living room, preciously clad in mahogany. I would be surrounded by a happy family eating TV dinners off of those plastic plates that cup food in four compartments, like in the underside of rolling hills. Now I have been exiled to the garage, awaiting my fate at a yard sale or a bulky collection. I am too tall to rest coffee in front of the sofa, and too short for a lamp on the side. An inconvenient table with soft black curves, lacquered plywood frame, and rectangular shelves that seem limitless in the dim light. Immune to the virus of functionality I have evolved. I am a sculpture. I am art."
Text by Calum Bowden
"Infinite correspondence / Just what is it that makes today’s use of bas relief so different, so appealing?
In darkness, Marina Warner spoke of Alois Riegl’s infinite correspondence,
the Arabesque –
to have infinite correspondence is to be capable of indefinite extension.
Of forms, containing infinity, entanglement possibility, cooperation.
The seeming endlessness described by this capacity, of a dancer, invokes a sense of being
that might refer us to a state, burgeoning, posthuman.
Configuring new forms of intimacy
between a body, an image, another body, image – reflections, correspondences, instruction.
A life, its own. A dancing script.
In light, the Arabesque appeared, possibly, as the creation
of a new syntactic structure;
a generator, though lacking individuality.
In minor – a case of retrieval and recouping, it was said, slowly.
Slowing down and taking time are synonymous it seems with our time at present,
as subjects requiring attention, we volunteer our own to the things made, that require it.
Slowness as a motor. Dancing is slow, not in time
but in utterance. In its possibility to decry our time. In its possibility to have infinite correspondence.
An utterance, in dance, in dialogue is this slowness in action, is this wording in concert with other words.
A slowing to take the time to recoup meaning from the words that signify.
An intimacy envelopes and blooms, online, in this document,
breathing, marked by a counter.
A counter once marked by a deadline on paper, now, on screen, blinking a marker, signifying a time unfamiliar.
Breathing with others, in time with others, not close,
but intimate and proximate through our blinking guide.
In light, infinity illuminated, bound by a darkness that contains. This is an arabesque
on display, functioning as a means of commune, communication.
Functioning as a means of producing proximity anew, intimacy anew,
of words, utterances on a new page, choreographed, bound
by the dark of the window’s frame.
This frame contains a total, but arouses a long sweep through time:
imbued with an aesthetic that manifests in discourse through fits of pique,
popular art, lifestyle. Now!
Imbued then with Maurice Blanchot’s neutral other,
in colour —
let us not negate the greatness of all that it lets. Beneath this clean sweep
you bear crevices, a cloven hoof, teeth, eggs, a staircase.
You are no longer the Arabesque, an instrument, but an object, moving very slowly through
the earth’s global waters that inspired so much in your creator. These waters, unmanned, signify
a beautiful idea. I bide my time to be held by the perfect image."
Text by Susannah Eloise Haslam