The Space Between

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I see this set of sculptures every day in my kitchen. It’s happened that, while I cook, I look at the nose and realize I’m smelling; see the eye and realize I’m seeing. They are an invitation to self-reflection. Clearly, they are parts of a face – the same face, presumably. An exhaustive description would be something like: they are representational, idealized sculptural pieces of a classical, almost Hellenistic male face’s sense organs, executed in a style that recalls haut-relief. I didn’t make them. They were likely cast in moulds to appear as marble. I have always been drawn to their Renaissance-era aesthetic – these could be chunks of Michelangelo’s David, dissected. When I photographed them, that aesthetic was what I was trying to capture. I, however unintentionally, instead ended with a study in sense organs suggesting that the totality of our perecptions lies somewhere between these parts, in their collective action.

Separately, they lack expressiveness, and seem to isolate the sense organ they represent as though in an anatomical study. Placing the pieces in proximity suggests that they belong to the same subject; are part of set. These things are all pretty easy to assume, but isn’t that the pitfall of assumption? Taken together, the pieces’ anatomy suggests not only classical beauty, but an enumeration of the senses, five of them across four pieces with tactition implied by their marble skin. This implication, unlike our earlier easy compositional assumption – that things framed together are somehow related – did not read in the image. To be honest, I couldn’t think of a sense organ to stand in for the sense of touch other than our entire skin, which didn’t fit the theme suggested by the sculptures, so I added a fingerprint to the background to suggest touch in the same way that the mouth suggests taste. With that added, we intuitively recognize that four chunks of a face over the swirl of an enlarged fingerprint implies the five senses in a way that made the picture feel like a complete composition instead of an accidental arrangement of parts.

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