“Settee × Three (after Burton photo, “Public, Private, Secret”)” is three objects in an edition of five — all the same basic shape and form, each with a different role.
Settee One (Private) is made from solid unfinished walnut. Six separate sculptural forms that push together to create a beautiful mass. A seating unit that blurs the lines between sculpture and design.
Settee Two (Public) is made from concrete. The pouring becomes a Happening as the public is invited to participate, both by being present and witnessing the building as performance. The public is invited to insert small, personal non-art objects into the concrete mixer while the event is happening. The piece becomes a kind of time capsule that is jack-hammered apart after a time (6–12 months, depending on the situation). The non-art objects become art after their involvement; and the art — the performance — becomes functional design. The object is documented through photography and film during its life in public.
Settee Three (Secret) is made in a secret location in a remote place.
It is photographed for documentation and left to become whatever it will become on it’s own.
Everything matters. An itchy nose, scratching it; a distant train. A bit of coffee left in the mug. My hand grasping the mug, the thumb providing guidance. Every encounter with another person … etc.
→ Richard Artschwager
This ‘epiphany’ the artist / designer Richard Artschwager had when he was approaching mid-life changed him … or as he says, ‘saved him.’ Everything Matters. We first encountered this story of Artschwager’s personal and artistic evolution in the catalog from the 2004 Cooper-Hewitt exhibit “Design ≠ Art: Functional Objects From Donald Judd to Rachel Whiteread.” It has stuck with us and it seems every time the set of discussions related to art-versus-design comes up, this story eclipses anything that could be described as progress or any sense of new meaning. We always end up at the beautiful and true paradox ‘everything matters / nothing matters’ … and then we are happy. We think of this as a kind of freedom. We like these words — ‘everything’ and ‘nothing’ — because they are impossible.
And like Artschwager, we want to be saved. Saved from the language that confines us. Saved from the hierarchies that annoy us. Saved from categories. We want to be more like water or weather. Without clear boundaries and definitions. We want our work to be ambiguous and free.
Our time online has taught us a bit about everything and nothing. Our work is most often experienced on the internet, through photography. So how can we respond?
Settee × Three (after Burton photo, in Private, Public & Secret) is one piece that becomes three different known and unknown entities. The form or shape of the work is based not on building documents, measurements & specifications, or design, but on photography and our perception.
A photograph of Scott Burton’s Granite Settee at the Dallas Museum of Art is the starting point. The two dimensional becomes the three dimensional. We made a prototype and adjusted it until we felt it was the same size as the one on the photo based on our interpretations of the contextual information around the photo. So rather than just looking at the piece, we’ve attempted to use everything in the photo.
Continuing with our thoughts about everything, how could we ever be satisfied with just a design piece, or just a sculpture. We want more. We want everything. Why can’t a chair be an invitation to an experience? To become more and to cause something else? Our work starts by turning something into something else and we want it to keep going. What could it become? What if meaning was equally divided between … everything?