a share of sculpture and physics

We start at 10:0 am at the ‘construction side’. Chorng Wang is there, also Debashis, too. I feel a pain in my muscles from yesterday –  this does always happen to me at the first day of physical work. Same happened to Debashis. The plan for today is, to assemble all pieces – bring them to 3rd and 6th floor and install most of the things – but I know, that last part will hardly happen. But I don’t want to be in a rush all day tomorrow. Still it will be enough work to install all pieces and do the catalogue and for me –  to prepare the talk. At 6 pm ‘the hammer will fall’ as I translated literally from German.

We built all day long. Debashis created the cat-box in between. He wanted to have styrofoam for his piece. A material that I hate. One reason shows up, when he cut it. It makes these silly small balls, that are electro-static charged – sticking to things you don’t want them to and spread over a place within minutes – creating a nasty mess. We run after them in intervals of 30 min. Momo has the same material. Momo is creating the LED-peaks and the ground for the atom-lattice. She already assembled a dozen of LEDs with sticks.

I left a note in Alexander’s office. We emailed about the chance to exhibit one of his nice lab-books! Since I got the idea to put it under ‘glass’ – he seems to be willing to lend it for a while. I show him the pedestal – he agrees to present it in that way. Which is just great!!!

The huge stack of papers published at CQT is still growing at the office. Jenny got someone to print it out.

Julian just started his survey this afternoon. He walks around asking people questions like: What colour has a qubit? Were do Alice and Bob live? … I guess even I haven’t been so brave in starting last minute. But I trust him – he seems to work with that.

At 6:30 pm all pieces are assembled, but none installed.. All pieces are assembled, but none installed. Debashis and I deliver them to the sixth floor. We meet Momo in between. She helps us. Also doing a time-lapse-video – called the birth of the cabinet:

Momo wrote next to the camera – please do not touch – “work in progress” – some answered by text: “camera steeling in progress”. Haha … .

When most of the pieces are upstairs – we look at them together – Luo Yan arrived in between. Momo is disappointed, that the cabinet is not painted. Debashis is too. We discuss about painting some of the edges or horizontal surfaces. I say that I can’t do it anymore today – since it is almost 8 pm now and I have other things on the agenda. Also need some rest and food too. If no-one else does it – we have to leave it as it is. Also, it can be, that we have to paint it twice, if the paint doesn’t cover for the first time – which is very likely. The risk is high, that it will look not proper in the end, because we might run out of time. Isabelle and Daniel arrives. They say, they like to raw look of the cabinet. Debashis leaves. The others want to send me to catch some food, now. But I want to finish and then go for food – t o finish things at CQT for today. Momo donates me some cookies with cereals and nuts and a bag of Brazil Kernels. Very sweet of her, she says, ‘Poor girl needs some energy’. It is very helpful in deed – feeling much better after some minutes. Meeting Christian in between. We make an appointment for dinner and he borrows me his card to access 6th floor. Mine was still not working, although we tried to solve it.

I fix shelves for Isabelle’s small books on surprising materials on the back of the laser-box. When I leave CQT it is almost 9:30 pm – much later than I promised to Christian. I meet Dzimitry on the floor – ask him, if he wants to join – but same as Johannes and Isabelle – he has eaten already. Isabelle wants to finish her installation, so it will be only me and Christian, today.

We meet on Lower Kentridge Road. Discussing about snakes in town, right after. Surprisingly meet John and his wife on our way. We walk cross-country through their residential area. Christian and I continue to West Coast Plaza. It is already late when we arrive. We are one of the last guests at this hawker center today. Having food and beer. I interview Christian about his research and teaching opinion. He points out, that what he does is experimental physics. Meaning to test and proof ‘things’ in physical reality. I realise now,  that I write about it, what we had the whole time in common. Christian and I maybe share the fun and desire to invent, create and test ‘physical’ objects that does something in the actual ‘physical world’. In German the connotation of physics – as related to physical: meaning observing some-‘thing existing in space’ was not obvious for me. Because German-language distinguish between: ‘physisch’ as körperlich (bodily) compared to physics we would say ‘physikalisch’ and ‘Physis’ would mean a natural concept of being – addressing a constitution of something – all that seems to be ‘physical’ in English!

Therefore I quote Wikipedia: ‘Physics (from Greek: φύσις physis “nature”) is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force.

It is much harder to find a good definition for sculpture or installations in contemporary art! Even the first sentence in wikipedia is close to wrong: ‘Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions.’ The following assumptions deal with art-history, only. And of course sculpture is not only about three dimensions for about 40 years now:
Social sculpture is a specific example of the extended concept of art, that was advocated by the conceptual artist and politician Joseph Beuys. Beuys created the term Social Sculpture to illustrate his idea of art’s potential to transform society. As an artwork it includes human activity, that strives to structure and shape society or the environment. The central idea of a social sculptor is an artist, who creates structures in society using language, thought, action, and object.’

After the ‘extended concept of art’ by Beuys – which was of course influenced by FLUXUS and the Situationist in 1960ies, sculpture (extended to ‘social sculpture’) can not reduced to its spacial extensions any more. Besides painting died since 1910ies – as various people (Malevich, Duchamp, Benjamin) said. Sorry, about that – but to speak with Sophocles: Don’t kill the messenger! Anyway, if one can not really define what sculpture is, it doesn’t make much sense to distinguish it from installation, intervention, street art, public art, media art – even painting, drawing and performance anyway.  Each is hard to separate from the other and therefore from ‘sculpture’, too. I regard it as a rather unnecessary and  helpless try to define and capture what will escape anyway.

BUT what can be said, is that the working base – the stage where sculpture is happening, is ‘physical space’ with all ‘extension’, ‘reason’ and ‘consequence’ or their absence – of course! And there it gets interesting. If one compares it with the definition of  ‘The common conception of physical objects includes that they have extension in the physical world, although there do exist theories of quantum physics and cosmology which may challenge this.’ It may describe my interest in that field. I was curious, what this means to me as someone working with ‘matter’, ‘space’ and ‘objects’ and other related terms. I was interested to learn more concepts different from ‘every-day-life’-assumptions. Since I consider myself as part of the third group in Sehgals description.

I like definition, that I heard in 2007 from the artist Tino Sehgal – I am paraphrasing: “There are three types of art: Two of them are not really art – or at least they are not really interesting: The first type uses fancy artistic techniques and skills, but has nothing to say  – it looks like art. Second type – taps resources of public awareness to deliver certain messages in the name of art. It values between form and content, while form is just a bucket. Andreas Siekmann is on the edge of that. Third type deals with artistic methods and strategies – questioning these and other assumptions, limits and preconditions of art itself. Every conceptual art needs some aesthetic expression”

I wanted to question and research ‘representations of invisible entities’ or ‘scientific images’ or ‘aesthetic concepts of equations’ through my subjective artistic methods during the residency at CQT. And I have to say, I could just make the first step among many other possible ones! And it may explain, why it could be, that in the end – the whole cabinet will not look like a typical art/science project. Not cool, not slick, not white, not computer-animated or supported by other technical gadgets!

Also, I work with circuits, sometimes. Christian and I speak about it. He offers that I can ask him, if I have any questions. We discuss, that it is necessary to realise stuff and apply to reality, because a lot of things are happening, that you may have not considered and expected before! Own practise creates a new knowledge and rather different ‘view’. E.g. to my surprise a lot of physicists think that a battery has 1,5 V. I was disappointed when I discovered that, because it destroyed my belief in them! If they don’t know these simple things – how can they understand our complex reality? Even I learned at the starting point of my electronic practise: when you buy a battery – it mostly has between 1,7 to 1,8 V. This voltage degreases though time and use. So most of the time a battery hasn’t 1,5 V. Same with power supply units – unless they are stabilised – they will have a 10-30% higher voltage than written on the label – also good to know. I simply learned it though trial and error or crashing built-up circuits. My wish is to combine these knowledges – especially for further circuit-ideas I look for a collaboration with a physicist (had bad experiences with electrical engineers – they are too pragmatic, can’t stand that). I am to lazy, stupid and talkative to understand though reading myself. I can only learn though discussion, imitation and modification.

It turns out, that Christian is somehow interested in contemporary art – he knows the Singapore Arts Museum and some others as well. His explanation would be fitting for me too: “I don’t understand this old stuff and it isn’t really interesting to me. The stuff happening now, can at least be ‘funny’” (‘lustig’ (funny) – has a connotation of interesting and surprising, if one use it in this context). He also went to my talk at the ArtScience Museum on Sunday, but since there was this big queue he would have been much too late – so he went away.

We leave around midnight. The moon is visible, again in the wrong rotation, as already discussed with John. Also, we speak about the different colour of sunset – it is much more pink here than in Germany. More like a Russian Borscht with kefir. In Germany it looks more like a carrot soup – much more orange. Christian says, he’ll think about, why there is this difference. And that he got an idea for a question for the exams!

I am at home by 0:30 am. Don’t feel like starting to work again. I worry, that I will not get to sleep at all afterwards – and will feel terrible tomorrow. In the night I dream about setting up a prohibtion sign, saying: NO REPRESANTATION!

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