The Face of Another 2009

The Face of Another takes its title and starting point from Japanese writer Kobo Abe’s 1964 novel The Face of Another (the artist is using an English translation from the Japanese by Alfred A Knopf 1966, Penguin Classics, 2006). The novel takes its cue from writers such as Camus and Sartre in its post-war existential attempts to try to understand the nature of the human condition. The story is about a scientist whose face is totally disfigured in an accident at work who then sets out to make for himself the perfect mask. So successful is he, that the mask takes over his personality and leads to an even greater crisis of self than that which he experienced with the loss of his face. 
The novel is written almost entirely in the first person singular, through the voice of the scientist.

The artwork takes the novel through a number of different stages of translation or transformation. Firstly all of the text is deleted using masking fluid, except the capital letter ‘I’. The pattern of ‘I’s thus produced is transposed onto sheet copper. Here the scale is changed, so that one page of the book becomes a set of copper sheets 8’ x 4’. Around each ‘I’ on the copper, a series of concentric lines are hand-engraved, creating pools of rippling shapes that emanate out from the isolated ‘I’s only stopping when they meet another pool. The extremely laborious and time-consuming process is videoed and edited to make an accompanying videowork.

The copper sheets have been shown in various ways, including hung on the back of two shipping-container doors, and as works in progress on specially made plywood tables/cubes. The process of deleting the text of the novel has also been shown as a live video link throughout the duration of a gallery exhibition The configuration of the work for display very much depends on the context and space in which it is shown. 

Video Extract