‘Contact‘ is an inter-sensory display that invites the audience to explore four objects, travel in time and reflect on the creative power of the human hand. The work celebrates the pleasure of finding things in out with our bare hands inside an institutional context – the museum. The exhibition took place at the ‘Masters of Sculpture’ room, at Museum M van Leuven, Belgium, from January 24th to 31st and May 2nd-5th, 2018.
The intervention proposes a parallel journey into the old masters’ studio, by engaging visitors in a performative conversation with artifacts and materials. The audience is offered the chance to hold the objects, while listening to their (speculative) history via an audio piece, developing an personal choreography with them. By inviting visitors to touch, smell, feel and imagine the stories of these artifacts, the experience evokes a sensory time-lapse between then and now.
If the evolution of mankind is analogous to the evolution of the tools, isn’t the human hand its glorious protagonist? ‘Contact’ celebrates craftsmanship, both in the past and in the present, juxtaposing raw materials, handcrafted objects, and computer-aided-sculpture works without a particular hierarchy. This tactile collection opens a debate on the status of the objects, their historical and aesthetic values within the museum settings. Are these artifacts original? How old are they? What’s the value of an art object?
Inspired by the sublime encounter with the ritualistic images of the Old Masters’ room and reconnected with the act of making them, visitors may become aware of their own skills, vitality and potential to articulate movement and gesture, to transform and give meaning to the environment that they live in.
Thanks to Rob Bothof, Petra van der Schoot, Peter de Cupere, Tom de Weyer (Makerspace/UHAsselt).
Audio interface developed by Rob Bothof. This research project, Symphony @ the Museum, was an joint venture between M van Leuven, PXL-MAD School Hasselt and Haystack – and it was one of the winners of MindGate cross-over contest for the city of Leuven 2018.