Null Object

Portland stone, 50cmX50cmx50cm, 200KG
Photo by London Fieldworks, 2012


Gustav Metzger thinks about nothing 2012

NULL OBJECT links a computer-brain interface with industrial manufacturing technology to produce sculpture – a collaboration between London Fieldworks (Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson), Harvard medical roboticist and haptics researcher , Yaroslav Tenzer and software designer, Jonny Bradley.

Using bespoke software, London Fieldworks have produced 3D shape information from electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings of artist Gustav Metzger as he attempted to think about nothing. This data was translated into instructions for a manufacturing robot, which carved out the shapes from the interior of a block of Portland stone to create a void space.

Null Object

Kuka Robot. Photo by London Fieldworks, 2012

The project utilised a relational database comprising of several hundred digital EEG recordings from participants who have donated their brainwaves from the UK, Europe and USA. These EEGs were recorded while the participants perceived depth information within random-dot autostereograms and were instrumental in the translation of Metzger's EEG (thinking about nothing) into control instructions for the manufacturing robot.

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication of the same name published by Black Dog Publishing including an introduction by the artists, a text by Gustav Metzger and four contextualising essays by writers across the fields of literature, art, science and technology exploring the diverse historical and conceptual grounding for and broader implications of Null Object’s production process. Novelist Hari Kunzru explores nothingness as a productive category, while Dr. Christopher Tyler, inventor of the random-dot autostereogram, contrasts representations of negative space in art practice with perceptual representations in science. Essays by Nick Lambert and Bronac Ferran examine the resonances of Metzger’s participation in the project. Lambert situates London Fieldworks’ practice within a trajectory of questions about the place of the human in the informational world, as first addressed by Metzger over 40 years ago; Ferran focuses on Metzger’s commitment to the “the radical consequences of emptiness” within both Modernist discourse and the context of ecological crisis.

Supported by Arts Council England and the Computer Arts Society.

Null Object