The Proposition of Objects

The Proposition of Objects, a newly commissioned exhibition by artist Mick O’Hara, opens 10th August 2021 at Roscommon Arts Centre.

This exhibition is a reflection on the composition and ordering of objects, and their relationship to language. It plays with the ideas of Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and his belief that there is an inherently logical form existing between objects and words. Before Wittgenstein was a philosopher, he studied aeronautics and as a student designed a model engine that he hoped to build. The work presented here proposes that this model of the engine mediates and intersects with some of the key notions developed in his famous 1921 book, the Tractatus.  

The exhibition at Roscommon Arts Centre is a speculation or meditation on what Wittgenstein meant about the relationship between objects and words, their propositions and state of affairs. His model of the engine is re-presented and reimagined in a film as a digital model, existing between language and word yet materialised through the logic of computer code. For Wittgenstein the idea of the model was key as it initiates an idea that language and the world are welded together. According to him, language models or ‘pictures’ the world. Wittgenstein’s engine, a project never fully realised in his lifetime, is presented in a film as a set of digital objects, that are no more or less real than the original designed over a century ago. 

Alongside this film work a number of sculptural objects are presented as a set of derivations on this model engine articulated through the machining of steel and brass, a technology available to Wittgenstein at the time. These objects that previously existed as word and thought, now exist as sculptural objects in the world. They suggest a state of affairs exist not only between physical objects and language, but also in their digital counterparts in the imagined or hyper-real space of the machine.

Propositions 1-7

(2021)

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