Imprinting Presence / Touching Touch 2019

Imprinting Presence:  

An installation that I created in my residency at Sunday Morning at EKWC (the European Ceramic Work Centre) in Oisterwijk, Holland.

I intended it not solely as an art-work that should elicit  an aesthetic response,  but additionally as a “tool for thinking”, it asks the fundamental question: What does it mean to be human? The work employs a new ceramic language of “the hand” and the pieces exist as signifiers/metaphors for the human.

The idea of the haptic is so central to our existence. We are animals that touch. Transforming touch into ceramics forces a realization of our embodied selves. A piece of clay formed in the squeeze between two hands stands for togetherness / encounter / meeting. I took this simple piece of clay that was moulded in an instant by two people – an object both unique (it is the document of a moment never to be repeated), and also banal (everyone can make it – for it requires no special skill in its manufacture), and used it as the basis for my exploratory work in a three month residency at the EKWC in the Netherlands. These incredibly simple analogue hand-pressings were scanned and transformed through  digital manipulation to create molds that were the enlarged form of the piece, in which I could manufacture (what Freud would have termed) “uncanny”, large versions of the negative space of the hand – the point of contact between us.

One year later, in COVID time, I now reflect that this is work that is no longer possible with social distancing; it is simply too dangerous to have contact that close with many new acquaintances. Thus it is a work that speaks to a time when human contact was an essential part of getting to know someone.