O2 – Object


6.30pm, Tue 31 January 2012, Sculpture Seminar Room, Howie Street.

We consider the idea of the Object in this discussion. Each of the speakers work with the object in their various forms. Ranging from the hand-made sculpted object, to the found object and the digital object, the panellists will bring to bear their different views of a thing, its material, meaning and construction.

Panellists: Lucy May TomlinsTim Steer, Suk An, Elizabeth Porter

Chair: Richard Wentworth

IMAG0527.jpg.scaled1000 IMAG0531

Suggested Reading/Watching from the Panellists:


“What is REAL?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand… once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Bianco


Weavers and Dealers: the authenticity of an oriental carpet

by Brian Spooner in Appadurai, A. (1986) The Social Life of Things: commodities in cultural perspective. Cambridge University Press

The Glass Piano

Writer and poet Deborah Levy considers the true story of Princess Alexandra Amelie of Bavaria, 1826-1875 who at the age of 23 was observed awkwardly walking sideways down the corridors of her family palace. When questioned by her worried royal parents, she announced that she had swallowed a grand glass piano.

The Princess is played by Emily Watson.

The piece is structured between the Princess’s dialogue as she walks through the palace and the conversations Levy has to find out what’s wrong with her. Our key contributors are the psychoanalyst Susie Orbach, historian Erin Sullivan and Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Dr Fiona Lecky with music composed and arranged by Chris O’Shaughnessy.

This is a magical tale on the one hand and a partial history and analysis of mental delusions on the other.

We follow the 23 year old Alexandra Amelie as she walks sideways around the doors and ornaments of the royal palace. She is wearing a white dress, certain colours and smells distress her.

Delusions of being made from glass were quite popular in the 16th century. The stories are extraordinary and include “The Lawyer Made From Glass”, by Cervantes which tells of a man who believed his body was made from glass. He wears loose clothing, sleeps in straw, walks in the middle of the road to avoid injury from falling roof tiles, and is so scared of people approaching him when they give him food, he fixes a bucket to the end of a pole so fruit can be deposited in it.

For Levy, Alexandra Amelie is a sort of early cyborg, a collision of flesh and technology. Woman and piano have merged, the piano being an instrument of communication.

A History of the World in 100 Objects 


A 100 part series by Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, exploring world history from two million years ago to the present via 100 objects. Check out the British Museum’s website to listen to the series and to see images of the 100 objects.

American vs British Teeth


British teeth are not like American teeth.

Hollywood smiles are pearly white paragons of straightness. British teeth might be described as having character.

“Americans have the idea uniformity is equivalent to looking good. The British character is more free-spirited, more radical,” says Professor Liz Kay, dean of the Peninsula Dental School in Exeter and Plymouth.

Daniel Miller The Comfort of Things 2008

“Objects surely don’t talk. Or do they? The person in that living room gives an account of themselves by responding to questions. But everything in that room is equally a form by which they have chosen to express themselves. They put up ornaments; they laid down carpets. They selected funishing and got dressed that morning. Somethings may be gifts or objects retained from the past, but they have dicided to live with them, to place them in lines or higgledy-piggledy; they made the room minalmist or crammed to the gills. These things are not a random collection. They have accumulated as an expression of that person or household. surely if we can learn to listen to these things we have an authentic other voice. Yes also contrived, but in a different way from that of language.”

Actor Network Theory on Objects in Space


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