The Closet - Phantoms of Reality, 2020
The installation called "The Closet. Phantoms of Reality" constitutes a collaborative work by the artists Philipp Schaerer and Reto Steiner. The work, conceived for Kunstraum Satellit in Thun, shows a series of sculptural and abstracted model forms of familiar fixtures and mobile everyday objects – some mounted on the walls, others scattered here and there across the space in a seemingly random manner.
The installation presents itself as a cabinet of objects that have been replicated 1:1 and reduced to three-dimensional surface forms on the basis of their outlines. These objects renounce all materiality and solid properties. They appear as dematerialised large-scale line drawings that come across like phantomatic images of the original objects they represent.
The abstracted wall-mounted model fixtures discreetly refer to a public and intimate place. What is suggested here, reinforced by the pavilion-like structure and the small dimensions of the exhibition space, is the interior of a public toilet: A urinal, known to be normally screened off and concealed from view behind walls and screens, now unusually turns outward, showcasing itself in a large display cabinet. The side room becomes a stage here, the hidden is publicly presented, and thus the boundaries between intimacy and distance, between privacy and publicness, are blurred and confronted with each other.
The objects represented by the outlines also clearly play with the perception and display format of 3D models from the field of computer graphics, transferring this mode of representation to the analogue real space. In this way, the aesthetics of the digital wireframe model representation is deliberately played with. Here, like in wireframe models, the objects are defined only by their edges and isoparametric lines, but sometimes ironically transferred to analogue craftwork via manual and imprecise drawing.
This present work is to be seen as an intersection between the fields in which the two artists work. While Reto Steiner mostly works in the realm of three-dimensional sculpture, Philipp Schaerer is mainly concerned with digital image-processing methods. Thus, the wireframe display method from the digital domain, used for representation of 3D models, meets real space here, which is equipped with various physically tangible and three-dimensional objects. This artwork seeks the points of contact between the three-dimensional sculpture and the drawing, a two-dimensional form of representation.
All the exhibited objects have been outlined manually by means of a plastic-filament 3D pen with a 1.75mm PLA filament made from polylactides – synthetic polymers mostly obtained from renewable sources and normally used for digital 3D printing. The principle of the plastic-filament pen is comparable to how a hot glue gun works: A thread of material is heated inside the pen, dispensed in liquid form at the tip and soon solidifies at room temperature.