‘Life & Opinions’, 2004
Facsimile book page, lightbulb, lens, furniture, electrical components
The work is an interpretation of the well-known allusion to the limits of language and the ineffable from Chapter 4 of Lawrence Sterne’s Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1760), where the author uses an abstract graphic flourish to articulate a moral statement.
The sculpture/installation comprises a number of objects assembled on a second-hand 1970s coffee table, resembling a setting for a domestic scientific experiment (with a reference to Sterne’s late-Enlightenment contemporary, Joseph Wright of Derby): a facsimile of a page from the first edition of the novel suspended from a modeller’s crocodile grip, erratically flushing light bulb connected to a coil and capacitor assembly and a magnifying glass positioned between the light bulb and the book page.
On the facsimile page, the original graphic device representing an action delivered by a character in the text was removed and the gap in the text is used as a screen onto which sporadic flashes from the bulb’s filament are projected by the means of the magnifying lens. The resulting image, closely resembling the original “flourish”, is simultaneously a quotation of the original and a competing visual representation.