The Emperor’s Animals 1

2000, 1 x 100 : 100; 10 x p : q, oil on canvas, price on request

A somehow bizarre classification of objects.

“Animals are divided into a.) those that belong to the Emperor, b.) embalmed ones, c.) those that are trained, d.) suckling pigs, e.) mermaids, f.) fabulous ones, g.) stray dogs, h.) those that are included in this classification, i.) those that tremble as if they were mad, j.) innumerable ones, k.) those drawn with a very fine camel’s hair brush, l.) others, m.) those that have just broken a flower vase, n.) those that resemble flies from a distance.”

It was Jorge Luis Borges to imagine this astonishing list, attributed to an old Chinese encyclopaedia. Referring to this quotation, I have established a somewhat odd classification of objects. Two classes are more or less consistent: a.) normal domestic objects, such as forks and spoons, tea cans, etc., b.) tools for tinkering. The diskette, yesterday’s innovation which has quickly become obsolete, does not really fit this little domestic world.

Finally, there is Klein’s bottle and other topological forms, which do not actually exist. These singular, purely mathematical objects are alien in the kitchen as well as in the workshop or at the office. Klein’s bottle is a three-dimensional object twisted into the fourth dimension, as the Möbius strip is twisted into the third dimension, having thus only one side. If the strip is very easy to manufacture, the bottle is purely virtual. And we fail in our attempts to imagine this whimsical thing with only one side turning around itself in the fourth dimension. It is vertiginous.

While the models of objects of everyday use come from my kitchen and from my toolbox, Klein’s bottle and its suite of unfamiliar objects once again come from the Internet.

Leave a Reply