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Palatial
Sydney | 03.08.2005 – 27.08.2005


1 pot 2005

ink on paper
112 x 77 cm

“It was an ancient Japanese pot, incised with grooves. Thin-ridged grooves.
Grooves all around it. It looked like one of those collapsible paper lanterns. It was an experiment. The pot was placed on a turntable and the turntable began to revolve.
A needle was set into the groove. A stereo needle. They were waiting to hear the voice of the potter potting the pot 2,000 years ago. They were hoping the sounds of the potter had somehow been embedded into the clay. The pot turned around and around like a record being treadled into the third dimension. It turned. They listened. They were listening. Some of them heard an unidentifiable Japanese dialect, rapid and high. Some of them heard high-pitched static. The needle dug into the pot. The needle was getting blunt. More and more blunt…it was that scientific. Blunter and scientific.
More blunt…and more scientific.” 1
The work in Paul Saint’s show, Palatial, begins with the blunt and scientific. It begins with the limits of objects. To start at the end suggests that going forwards is not simply a process of going backwards through history. It is no longer a matter of looking for sounds of the past embedded in a pot of clay. It is more like using a set of tools that have become dulled through work – tools that have become worn through a history of use – and seeing what happens when they are utilised beyond the scope of their original design. This is the point where a blunt needle becomes a tool for writing instead of one for just reading.
Systems of measure form the basic tools of Saint’s new work: 2 suns, 2 planets, 40 moons, 221 defects, 2676 drops, 1 reverse, 3 rulers, 52 cards, 1 temple, 1 pot, 1997. It is not, however, only the titled numerical value of each depicted object that defines the relational elements within this set of works. It is also the modest ground that Saint has carefully graphed for each image which allows him to begin writing a visual language of discursive rapport.
Signs of the everyday provide the common basis of each work. In the majority of works large pieces of paper ruled with the blue lines, like the pages of an exercise book, provide a standard backdrop for the title subjects. The discipline of habit renders the lines almost invisible, as we look instinctively for the figures we imagine they support. Their presence, however, defines the vernacular of images. They are yet another text woven into the language of forms which Saint has chosen to explore.
Distilled from the conventional ‘order of things,’ the motifs in Saint’s images appear as markers of resemblance. They occupy the space of the scientific in their diagrammatic incarnations, but it is the delicate nuances of their appropriated and reconfigured façades that creates a system of perceptual doubt.
A system where nothing is fixed, and measures of certainty only exist in the hesitant spaces of ambiguity.

Tanya Peterson 2005

1 Laurie Anderson, “Words in Reverse” in (ed.). Brian Wallis, Blasted Allegories, New York/Cambridge Mass.: The New Museum of Contemporary Art and MIT Press, 1987, p.69



2676 drops 2005
acrylic and ink on paper
112 x 77 cm



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