Field Notes & Archive From A Knife on the Table

Words From the Artist

2020 || Digital Archive > Ceramics > Pit Fired > Polaroid Images


See Installation here “A Knife on a Table”


Man’s efforts to survive in an ever changing world can be illustrated by the tools he uses to do so. It is easy to catalogue these efforts from our past, for survival took on a different, and more minimal, approach to its meanings. The attempt to pinpoint the evolution of survival seemed to fade out with its traditional definitions becoming obsolete. Contrary to this, the pursuit of life and death is still as close to ourselves as it was when it meant our genetic sustainability. To this we ask, what tools do we use to survive in a modern world? And what does it mean to survive?
 In terms of today survival has adapted new criteria, yet our methods appear to be the same. In the times of prehistory to live was to kill. As humans our ability to create lent itself to our survival. We could create, therefore we could kill. A knife serves as an object of survival, an object of violence, a tool, a weapon. It’s strength can give life, just as well as it can take it away, yet a shattered blade can do neither. This is the principle A Knife on a Table is built on. The manifestation of both utility and inutility within a single object. In terms; a dual dichotomy between not only force and fragility but the use of said entity. An object with such a tumultuous existence does not merely appear within the world in which it exists, instead it is manufactured.
This manufacturing of survival is creating these entities of permanence, entities that perpetuate your survival. The landscape of these contemporary entities is one of unknowing. These are entities that are used every single day, yet never seen by our eyes and don’t occupy space. These entities are phantoms that exist among us, within us, and created by us. More importantly they are created from ourselves. Created from blue prints of our own image. These self portraits become our entries of survival. While these tools are being born we interject our disingenuous seed into its creation and what we had believed to be a simulation of self becomes a wholly new simulacra.
As for the process…  Material was one of the underlining points of concept when creating this piece. From the point of its initial thought, to the final construction of the sculpture, the specific type of material played a huge role in perpetuating the themes of the work. Although the original design for A Knife on The Table was designed to be cast of lead, the many reforms and changes along the creation process always played into the same ideology of concept. As for the final knife? Clay firstly played into the visual aesthetic of the modern relic. This helped establish themes of an artifact acquired in some paleo-excavation, which lent itself to the themes of unknown origin and something that is tied to the roots of man and earth itself. The other aspect of clay that was intriguing was the hand refined and primitive construction. By starting the process of the purest of points, it allowed the manufacturing survival to rise to a more literal quality. In working with the beautiful, and tedious, process of refining, and firing your own clay many discoveries came of the time through the trials. The color variations and chemical processes that can be applied to the clay during the firing process eventually brought additional functionality to the final sculpture, making it an ebony black; shadowed and elusive as the entities of survival that the knife represents. 
In terms of trials, we applied a variety of techniques to the clay and processes to get the ideal look I was seeking. As seen in the archival chart above, each knife has a specific label attached to it cataloging the process, clay mix, and date it was created. Looking at the number code on each label you will see if the slip used was raw, mixed, or had defluxiant (telc & and soda ash) added to the mixture. In post firing there were a few hundred pieces we sorted through over a weeks time to assemble the final knife. In total 10 clay knives, 6 plaster knives, and 3 knife molds were made within the month of creation.
In the conception of the video installation, the dilibracy of space and object was important in conveying the concepts of the piece. As mentioned previously a play of simulation vs simulacra was important in not only the concept of the piece, but the images being represented in the video. The Video travels between two spaces through its duration; the first being the documentary footage representing a reconstruction of reality. There is  an obvious play of framing, reenactment, and artificial sound at work which separates it from the true original, but the reminisce of the source remains clear. As for the transition of the transient isolations, there is a clear artificiality. It  has been separated so far from the original it becomes an object of its own. This isolation would be an example of simulacra, or something that no longer has an original despite being a replication. The sound design of the video parallels this idea of falsehood in the ways that NO source sounds were used. Every sound heard accompanying  the image was crafted post recording at completely different times.


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