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Jaco Spies


Jaco Spies completed a BA (Fine Arts) degree at the University of the Free State (UFS), Bloemfontein, South Africa and is currently studying towards a BA Honours degree in History of Art. With drawing and history of art as major subjects, his BA (Fine Arts) final-year project mostly involved integrating printmaking and painting art objects with self-bound artist’s books, investigating issues of technological influences on spirituality. Since 2003 his artistic practice has focused on investigating aspects of national, social, cultural and personal ideologies (critically) by using landscape representation and mapping - particularly the processes of land acquisition, reclamation, dissemination, assimilation, etc. - as metaphors. Although most of his recent work is digitally based (animation, interactive, net, print), he also works in traditional media. His work is represented in various collections. He is also a lecturer in drawing, digital media and communication design at the UFS.


Title | transˈlā sh ən |
Medium Internet-based interactive drawing
Dimensions Variable
Edition Unique
Price -


If asked the question “what’s it all about?”, I would probably answer something like, “well, I don’t really know, but what I really know well are construction and deconstruction”; after which I would probably think to myself, “why was it even necessary to explain something, well, so obvious, really?”. These fundamental, opposing and infinite forces have haunted me exhaustively. I have found Derrida’s reading of the biblical story of the Tower of Babel - the origin of the multiplicity of mother tongues, a meta-narrative, a narrative of narratives - and the resulting necessity for and impossibility of translation to be a very fortunate and useful theory in understanding these forces: as the Tower of Babel stands for construction, the dissemination (scattering) of people and the resulting confusion stand for deconstruction.


| transˈlā sh ən | is an internet-based interactive artwork and in computer terms it is an application (program). The initial landscape representation (image) seen when accessing the given url was not derived from any real subject matter but is rather a construction of a hypothetical landscape by using marks, lines, shapes etc. predominantly derived from mapping (cartography) and 3d-modelling elements - thus referring to the constructedness of the Tower of Babel. A viewer (user) is given the freedom to change the landscape by using the provided interactive controls (drawing, erasing, moving, scaling, stretching, etc.). The resulting image is always a deconstruction of the construction. Furthermore, the artwork (application) is programmed to revert back to its original state (appearance) when no one participates and is in this manner re-constructing itself. In Chinese philosophy as well as for Derrida, opposing forces (such as construction and deconstruction) should not be seen as positive and negative - the first being good and the second being bad, as is generally perceived in Western culture. Rather, these forces should be seen as complementary, one necessary for the other to achieve balance. As the deconstruction process takes place, a need for translation become evident.




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