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A Walk in the Forest

LIBRARY OF ABSENCE

Artists' book published in 2023 by Editions Take5 (Geneva).
under the editorial direction of Céline Fribourg.
Edition of thirty copies signed by the artists.
Sculpture created by Conrad Shawcross for the book:
Anodized aluminum case, housing a rotating
projection device backlit by LEDs, and sixty-four cardboard discs
in different colors.
The perforations on each disc represent one of the main motifs of the artist's geometric research.
Unpublished texts (edited by David Frankel and Amie Corry):
Expanded Visions: Introduction to the history and symbolism of chess,
by Céline Fribourg
Expanding visions: Interview with Vladimir Kramnik
(former world chess champion 2000-2006)
Graphics by Aurèle Sack, with LL Brown font

Textbook (25x25cm) printed on Fedrigoni Sirio Noir 170 g,
and Fedrigoni Woodstock Grigio 170 g.
Stitched square spine, encased in a Bodonian cover in rosewood de santos,
covered with a silk-screen printed black and white checkerboard.
Original photograph signed by Aleph Uteza Lysimaque, printed on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 310 g paper.

In Library of Absence, we explore the idea of expansion through geometry, pattern and rhythm.
Infinity has haunted human beings since they first looked up at a blue sky or a starry night. On the scale of the universe, the human being is tiny, but we are nevertheless aware of our limits and capable of conceptualizing them.
Geometry permeates our world: we see it in nature, whether through fractals or infinite series among other examples, which punctuate its construction. Consequently, formalizing a truth in an abstract way helps us to understand reality. Mathematics seems to be an ideal tool for modeling infinity.

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Looking at this book, which could be seen as a tribute to Marcel Duchamp's rotoreliefs as well as to optical art, one might wonder what the link is between Conrad Shawcross's work - a kind of magic lantern projecting infinite constellations of patterns and shadows onto the wall - and a chess set ; what is the nature of the link between world chess champion Vladimir Kramnik and British artist Conrad Shawcross?
Both create worlds within our world, inviting us to broaden our vision.
Indeed, playing chess is a way of apprehending the infinite: even though the chessboard comprises just 64 squares, there would still be more possible variants in a game of chess than there are atoms in the observable universe. Because of this complexity, playing a new game of chess is like opening a Pandora's box, navigating a new universe through the sheer power of human intelligence. Chess allows us to build up a tree of possible combinations that becomes increasingly complex as the game progresses. Each game configuration offers a different succession of patterns. Recognizing these geometric patterns is at the heart of the cognitive sciences.

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Geometric configurations and proliferation of possibilities are also at the heart of Conrad Shawcross's work Patterns of Absence. The artist uses geometry and perspective to question and redefine space. Thanks to his acute understanding of shapes, lines and shadows, Conrad Shawcross has succeeded in creating a device for the book Library of Absence that, like a chess game, opens up space and mystifies it by projecting a casi-infinite number of aperiodic patterns of light onto our walls.

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The artist has imagined a complex projection system, consisting of a motor, a light source and an axis on which two perforated cardboard discs rotate in opposite directions. Their incremental counter-rotation allows light to penetrate through the cut-outs in their surfaces. Like stained-glass windows, these disks are activated by the light passing through them.
The luminous tableaux created by light passing through these superimposed, changing patterns create an immersive, meditative experience. They evoke the changing light on the sea, the twisting movement of a vortex or a flight of starlings in the sun.

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Pour citer le grand maître d'échecs Jonathan Rowson (Jonathan Rowson, The Moves that Matter, A Chess Grandmaster on the Game of Life, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019):
« Nous sommes entourés par des constellations de motifs qui façonnent notre paysage symbolique commun, et les échecs permettent d’appréhender ces modèles. (...) Ces motifs constituent la matrice d’un tamis qui nous permet de donner un sens à l’univers qui nous entoure. ».

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The text of the book consists in two parts:

1- Vladimir Kramnik's thoughts on:
- Strategy
- Self-control
- Balance
- time
- beauty
- Expansion
- Deep vision


2- A brief history of chess, and a study of its influence on philosophy, literature, sociology, linguistics and the arts.

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The Graphic design is by Aurèle Sack, it activates the power of the square and the cycle, throughout a dynamic construction of the maquette. The typography has been created by the Swiss designer.

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