Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Christopher Stott: Rotary Telephone


There is something grave about this apparatus. It wears black and white, as if dressed for a funeral; there is no visible line cord -- it indeed is actually dead. But it arrogantly eyes the viewer up and down, unaware of its own futility and impotence, a technological has-been, pointless and unable to perform what it once did: communicating between people. And its shell, resuscitated by the artist's will, gasps on this painting. It seems that the telephone is put out there as a subject for mockery and scorn. A lonely and forgotten piece of junk, it is now but a theme for a painting.

Wait a minute. It is a theme for a painting! Now that sounds different. A worthy reminder of the first steps towards global connection, it proudly occupies its place, justly patronizingly looking down at the viewer: I am a pioneer! Once communicating people through the medium of sound, now it does so through visual means (some claim the most important of our senses), drawing meaning from artistic and historical pools. This appearance might be its final moment, but it's going to last forever, being captured on canvas. A magnificent retirement, or, perhaps more accurately, a grand comeback.

I have arrived to a dilemma with This Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde analysis: which one do I like more? Can I have both? Or, perhaps, I shouldn't bother with any of them, and propose a new one.

The artist takes objects out of their environment and gives them a new perspective, which is detached and rarefied. It is also abstract (in the general meaning of the word), to the point of evoking a philosophical mood. There is something Kantian about it, if I were to delve even deeper. If there were a chance to observe "a thing in itself" -- this would be the closest representation, and it is not even three dimensional. Therefore, I conclude that the artist seeks to reach beyond the actual object, to more universal realms of inner perception.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a phone call to make.

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