a machine to collect emptiness

this installation is about paradoxes, truth and how people can bring their own experiences into an art work in order to give unsolvable concepts some measure of context and belief

the first paradox is that this art work is a machine, but that it provides no explicit evidence of doing anything. this is not about being a play on words, as if to say, ‘doing nothing is by virtue of it being defined, doing something.’ but at the same time it is clearly a philosophical or contemplative activity. is there a way in which to make such issues real for people, that they can have a real connection with. and if so, what of the viewer, the audience? can they put themselves in the place of the artist, empathise, understand?

the second paradox, seemingly similar to the first, is at first glance a paradox but upon reflection is not. this artwork collects emptiness; how can something that is without substance be collected? understanding why this is not a paradox means understanding what emptiness is, what it means to us

do memories, hopes and beliefs have any substance? our actions that we make, based upon these things, often have consequences that we can touch and feel emotionally. but our internal thoughts, even to us, sometimes feel out of control. obviously we do not analyse everything we think and feel, because I think that we intuitively feel that ‘that way, madness lies’. doubts, contradictions, disbelief… we act through necessity, and in this we have no time to contemplate

a) provide a vessel / jar / container

b) write some personal interpretation of the idea/concept of emptiness

i) what is the nature of this belief? what does emptiness mean to you? why have you selected this container as a signifier of your idea of what emptiness means to you?

ii) the containers can be any object (a tin can, a glass jar…) as long as they have an opening (in which to let emptiness in)

iii) the containers must not touch the floor. they can rest on something, or be suspended by threads from the ceiling. the floor is reality, a grounded state. because, if you have any chance of collecting emptiness, you must not touch the floor

iv) no other supporting mechanisms are valid. I think what this means is that, the installation is not an installation within an installation. there is no structure separate from the enclosing gallery space that holds the installation together

iv) the containers must be arranged in a grid. this means that there should be 4, 9 16, 25, 36…

v) each vessel/jar/container is chosen by someone. they should describe their rationale for choosing their object, as honestly as possible, and documented. it might be a word, a sentence, an essay

vi) the curator should ensure as far as possible that the containers and their descriptions are unique within the scope of the art work. this is not a statistical exercise and is not meant to be an exercise in control and setting limits

vii) i will submit an object to represent my own concept of emptiness

to clarify emptiness in the context of this work: if you have some memories, you can visualise them being contained in some way, not contained in a restrictive, jail cell sense, but simply having some focus

John Cage’s 3’33” transferred the role of the artist/performer into the audience (from the audience’s perspective). is that what really happens? perhaps it is like saying that the art work / event happens within conditions and environment defined in a partial degree by the performer. i empathise with the view that this is stretching the boundaries of what is performing or creating art. but also i relate to the central idea behind this work, that is to make people appreciate (appreciation being the precursor to belief, and then understanding) the world around them

Antony Gormley European Field  lots of small clay models of people, arranged like a crowd in a room, reduced to fundamental forms (blobs with eyes), moulded by children. it touched me in a way i hadn’t expected (i was not expecting anything) – and this was: i saw each clay figure as a conscious being asking me a question. i have no idea what the question was, but that was the question: do you know what the question is, because we do, and we were just wondering whether you did to

in other words, the power of that piece for me was not at all about answers, it was about questions. questions that possibly do not have answers, and that is why they are important questions to ask. who and why are we?

‘a machine to collect emptiness’ is about the world inside people, their thoughts and memories

it is about the impossibility of showing that internal world, but at least showing it in a way that people might think, this means something, this has integrity, even though all they have as evidence is a collection of empty vessels and some words