Writing Table / Sextodecimo

Swiss Cottage Gallery past exhibitions: 2014

Writing Table / Sextodecimo

By Elizabeth Wright

14.09 – 12.10 2014

Photography by Jonathan Murphy

 Writing Table remodeled one of the interior furnishings that Swiss Cottage Library’s original architect, Basil Spence, designed for the library in 1964. The 2014 version utilised current 3D production processes: the CNC Router1. Nine newly created versions of Basil Spence writing tables were dispersed throughout the library, to be used as tables by the public for the duration of the exhibition. In their daily use by library users the desks would have held books and supported the writing of notes/ texts with pen, pencil on paper. In contrast, Elizabeth Wright’s digitally manufactured tables supported the current prevalent way of producing text: a laptop computer.

Writing Table / Sextodecimo (c) Swiss Cottage Gallery
Writing Table / Sextodecimo (c) Swiss Cottage Gallery

Wright’s digitally produced tables were subtly different from Spence’s original – they were to be perceived as new objects, not copies. They were sculptures as well as functioning desks and by occupying this territory of sculpture/object/furniture they asked the audience to re-asses their surroundings, place and context. The different register and language of construction present in the two versions of desks functioned as signposts to the past and to the present, calling into question how we think about production and knowledge, especially in relation to libraries today.

Writing Table / Sextodecimo (c) Swiss Cottage Gallery
Writing Table / Sextodecimo (c) Swiss Cottage Gallery

Within the exhibition, three of the CNC-made tables acted as supports for painted plaster sculptures made from Apple Mac laptops. Through the casting process the Macbook sculptures retained their manual marks of production. These indexical marks highlighted the handmade production of the sculptures, which ran contrary to the object they depicted. The handmade marks — distorted, manipulated and smudged — were associated more with a well-thumbed book or dog-eared page than a pristine piece of contemporary technology.

Writing Table / Sextodecimo (c) Swiss Cottage Gallery
Writing Table / Sextodecimo (c) Swiss Cottage Gallery

Placed on one side of the main staircase the sculptures and their table supports mirrored the continuous performance taking place in the surrounding public spaces, as the library users worked on their laptops, wrested on Basil Spence’s remodeled tables.
 

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