Objective Dialogues: Y-Table

September 21, 2012

Operational Drawing of the Objective Dialogues Y-Table

Operational drawing of the Objective Dialogues Y-Table

Anti-curatorial installation for collective insight processes

The Objective Dialogues Y-Table consisted of a three way, Y-shaped table with 4 analytical examination stations, a display system, examination sheets, audio recorders and a facilitator. The examination stations refer to classical scientific methods in order to question the contemporary alliances between scientific research and the arts. This is equally indicated by the title of the project: Objective Dialogues are not objective but about objects.The table was equipped with a 3D scanner and three analysis stations offering digital scales, measuring devices and an illuminated magnifying glass, and stood directly adjacent to a display cabinet from which objects could be observed and selected for investigation. Pairs of investigators would be guided through the process by a facilitator who would begin by creating a 3D scan of the object. This scan would then emerge as a printed colour image from beneath the table in the form of an A4 frame divided into object image and fields of information: names of the investigators, object specifications and analysis notes along with fields for the cataloguing of the object.
The aim of The Objective Dialogues Y-Table was to initiate and mediate dialogues between the participants of the forum by way of material objects collected and submitted by artists and researchers from the network. Pairs of participants selected an object, examined it with the help of the different stations, and documented their results. Thus the idea was to induce and facilitate debate by way of an anti-curatorial installation to collectively investigate material objects from WTN sites.

Objective Dialogues Y-Table Installation Setup

Objective Dialogues Y-Table Installation Setup

Theoretical notes on the conception of the Objective Dialogues Y-Table

The OD Y-Table has been built around two shared interests: the collective nature of creative insight processes and the role of the materiality of knowledge therein.
If we take the stance that both artistic and scientific processes are concerned with the recognition of new things or at least of new aspects about known things, how then might this process be studied and discussed? Might it be possible to explore the shared insight processes at work here in terms of art?
The OD Y-Table demonstrates a means to creatively formulate hypothetical narratives inspired by a reading into Charles Sanders Peirce’s theory of abduction. Amongst other things Peirce explored the logical inference modes involved in the progress of forming scientific knowledge. He held that there are three genuine modes of reasoning: deduction, induction, and abduction. Of the three, abduction is the only mode that leads to new knowledge, as neither induction nor deduction can add anything new to the data of perception. After Peirce, abductive inference has the following form:

“The surprising fact, C, is observed. But if A were true, C would be a matter of course. Hence, there is reason to suspect that A is true.” (Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism, CP 5.188-189, 1903)

Abduction, then, is the spontaneous creation of a narrative framework under which a specific event makes sense or can be interpreted meaningfully during a process of discovery. As distinct to processes of induction wherein a general law is extracted from specific facts, or processes of deduction – the inference of a particular instance through reference to a general law or principle, abduction is:

“the process of forming an explanatory hypothesis. It is the only logical operation which introduces any new idea; for induction does nothing but determine a value, and deduction merely evolves the necessary consequences of a pure hypothesis. Deduction proves that something must be; Induction shows that something actually is operative; Abduction merely suggests that something may be. Its only justification is that from its suggestion deduction can draw a prediction which can be tested by induction, and that, if we are ever to learn anything or to understand phenomena at all, it must be by abduction that this is to be brought about.” (Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism, CP 5.171-172, 1903)

Through aiming to encourage abductive hypotheses within our artistic intervention the creative generation of hypotheses and operative diagrams are put centre stage. The OD Y-Table aimed to be an artistic implementation of this principle by facilitating the abductive construction of narratives. It aims at something that has its own peculiar existence: dialogues between pairs of participants about and driven by objects extracted from the target sites.

Scan of filled-in examiation sheet

Scan of filled-in examiation sheet

With participants as the community of inquiry, the OD Y-Table takes Ludwig Wittgenstein’s principle that insight is not private (See his Private Language Argument in Philosophical Investigations, §243 ff.) as a starting point. Therefore, it aims at collective narration-building: it provides examination stations to collectively construct hypotheses in the exploration and comparison of different sites. Thus the project aims to dismantle the relationship between expert and non-expert, object and subject, artist and audience, and the related dichotomies that have dominated large parts of western thinking in the modern age.
The second principle that the OD Y-Table draws on is the materiality of knowledge: that which cannot in some way be made visible must first be originally present during a process of collective insight. This is what the OD Y-Table focuses on: objects extracted from different wastelands central to the content and discourse of the forum are used in an attempt to integrate specific characteristics tied to these spaces into the collective insight processes of the WTN Forum. As a counterpoint to the fetish of interconnected online networks, material objects provide a balance to the digital dematerialisation of collective working processes. In the OD Y-Table, objects are framed as material touchstones for an engagement with the artistic and research agenda of the WTN Forum.



With Alex Head and Miodrag Kuč and project Contributors Will Foster, Patrick Kochlick, Jens Wunderling, and Luis Berrios-Negron.

For the Wastlend Twinnings Network Forum 2012 at ZK/U Zentrum für Kuns und Urbanismus, Berlin Moabit.



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