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I was interested in trying to figure out how the body knows what it knows — specifically, the somatic experience of tangible material, the cognitive experience of intangible concepts, and the interplay between these four variables. I was also interested in how repetition seems to create the potential to sidestep consciousness, and I wanted to experiment with that notion to see if I could access different modes of perception or ways of knowing by engaging in a repetitive action for an extended length of time. In setting up the framework for this performance, I mapped out and identified all the parameters that I was able to. I decided on the timeframe and squared off the surface area of my work space. This gave me a way to control the tangible aspects of the performance. By laying out this semi-structured plan, I hoped to create a situation where intangibles and surprises could occur.


Starting in the middle of an eighteen foot square of floor space, I set out to make one thousand pinch pots within a span of four hours. I imagined the pots would fill the entire work space and somehow be equally distributed. I counted the pots as I went along and kept track of them in ten groups of ten — something I realized was necessary as I went along and realized would be the only way for me to know when I was done. I was surprised to find that, at the end of the four hours, and down to within a few minutes, I had made the exact amount I set out to make. While I was working, the span of four hours seemed to shrink down to about the feeling of twenty minutes. These are the types of perceptive phenomena I’m interested in working with and demonstrating. How did these things happen so exactly with such little planning? How and why does time seem to stretch or contract depending on levels of engagement, intention, and focus?

Things can be objects or subjects. While objects are tangible things abstracted from the particularness of subjects, subjects are the intangible concepts or notions we extract from objects. How do we process the intangible sense data we extract from encountering objects made of particles in the physical dimension and what do we call this process? What are the internal mechanisms we use to govern how we locate and position our physical selves in relation to objects in space?

For this project, I constructed and deconstructed a batch of 10,000 intangible and tangible subjects and objects as a way to set both their physical and nonmaterial aspects free. Through forming a set of 1,000 physical objects made of clay with my hands, the conceptual intangibleness of their essence was simultaneously set free and bound as it transformed into material form. Conversely, intangible concepts were released from physicality through the gestural motions accompanied by the transmutation of 9,000 subjects into nonmaterial objects.


Seventy one artists from around the world work together remotely and simultaneously over the spring Equinox. Organized by Chelsea Burton, Rae Diamond, Erik Ehn, Brenda Hutchinson, Suki O’Kane, “Ten thousand is rooted in the Buddhist concept of the ten thousand dharmas – an image for all observable reality."

MARCH 19, 2020 11:49 PM EST - MARCH 20, 2020 1:49 AM EST
(Equinox at 11:49 PM EST)

N I N A  A. I S A B E L L E 

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