P. Laidler, Stretch out with your feelings, 2009, Laser Engraving
The orb image depicted in the photograph above has been burnt with a laser into the surface of a black heavy weight cotton based paper. The laser engraved orb image in the paper is a ‘Jedi training remote’ from the film Star Wars. In this instance the training remote image is only visible because of the resulting topography that is burnt (by the laser) into the depth of the paper. Therefore the orb image is described by angle, light and the papers darker fibers that sit beneath the (slightly lighter black) paper surface.
Form follows Fiction:
Upon our first encounter with the ‘Jedi training remote’ (in the film) we find Skywalker struggling to focus his Jedi abilities during the laser training exercise. There after it is decided that Skywalker should be blinded allowing the force to guide his actions instead of his eyesight or to 'let go of his conscious self'. Now blinded by 'the blast shield' Luke sees nothing except darkness (black paper) by using the force Luke is able to render the objects image in his mind (the image on the black paper). Although in his minds eye the object is devoid of physicality yet Skywalker has the ability to sense the training remotes presence in a space (the laser cut depth within the flat space of the paper). The realisation that the Jedi training remote is essentially both image and object creates a sense of mystery around the works visual presence - perhaps drawing further parallels with the order of the Jedi Knight!
Stretch out with your feelings is part of a continuing fascination with oscillations between image and object and fact and fiction. Subsequently I have an interest in film props and replicas where our associations with these objects are generally through their ‘on screen’ image presence. In this context film props are essentially objects that are preceded by their image, they are able to traverse fiction and reality when we consider that fact that they are 'real fictional' objects.
Stretch out with your feelings was conceived around the idea of creating a 'real fiction' where a physical object (an artwork) would be literally formed by some aspect of its fictional reference. In this instance the laser technology was used to initiate the traversing between fiction and reality. Here laser cutting technology refers to both the Jedi remotes fictional function (shooting lasers at Skywalker) and the actual technological process that renders the Jedi training remote visible in Stretch out with your feelings. The self-referential play around the idea of creating real fictions also has a resonance with the rapid advancement in science and computing industries. What was once thought to be only possible in science fiction is now becoming 'science faction'.