1. An object is not me
An object is beyond our control.
David Nash ‘Cracking Box’ 1990Although this object was originally constructed into a perfect cube, due to the nature of the material (wood) it had expanded and is now craving. This work is continually evolving without any human contact.
2. An object is unknowable
Our perception of an object is always partial. We can never perceive the whole object, at least a small section or understanding of it will remain secret from us.
Paolo Uccello ‘Chalice’ 1430In trying to portray the whole of this chalices three demential form, we have lost the service texture. We are unable to appreciate the decoration or perceive the weight of their object. We are missing key features of out understanding of this object.
We never perceive quite the same object as anyone else.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir ‘la Grenouillere’ 1869
Claud Monet ‘la Grenouillere’ 1869These two paintings were painted at the same time of the same location, however because they were painted by different people they are inevitably different. Each artist have perceived the environment differently. There are key differences in the representation of the people, water and background (the perspective of the background is very different).
We never really know the objects we do see.
Vija Celmins ‘To fix the image in memory XII’ 1977-82One of these rocks is a rock the other is made of plaster and has been painted to look like the rock. It is impossible to tell the difference purely based on visuals. In terms of understanding/knowing the object, even the artist herself only know the surface of the rock. She has no idea what the inside of the rock is like. Our eyes can be unreliable. Therefore making us question our perception and understanding of the world around us.
Phenomenon = How an object appears – a fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen, especially one whose cause or explanation is in question.
Noumenon = A thing as it is in itself, as distinct from a thing as it is knowable by the senses through phenomenal attributes.
We never know an objects noumenon.
Charles Avery ‘Noumenon’ 2008
This is a visualisation of a noumenon. It is a creature, the face of which you never see. Therefore you are unable to fully understand what the creature is, yet you know it exists.
3. I am an object (in a world of objects)
Subject = What preforms the action. We are the subject of our own lives.
Object = Everything we are not
Caspar David Friedrich ‘le chasseur dans la foret’ 1814Friedrich suggests that the roles of the subject and object are reversible. Usually due to a traumatic event.
Richard Serra ‘Spin Out’ 1973 Three steel walls, wedges into the valley. Your perception of these walls changes depending on which perspective you view them in. From above the walls appear to be getting closer together. From ground level the the walls separate as you walk closer and they move into your peripheral vision.
How have artists attitudes to objects changed over the last century?
- The critique of the objet d’art (a small decorative or artistic object, typically when regarded as a collectable item)
- An object which is polite, domestic and pointlessly beautiful
- The critique of ease painting as illusionistic
- Leads to the creation of objects that are neither painting nor sculpture
- Leads to art mad in an environment, you are able to walk into the art and experience it
- Leads to performance and other time based form
- Leads to conceptualism and de-materlized art
- The use of objects in contemporary art
- Objects are both deliberate and accidental
- As well as optional and essential