(In)exhaustible Objects

Red Wing ceramic vase with Oxalis regenelli

As a title, “Inexhaustible Things” would have been easier on the eye and the ear, but ‘Objects’ is more accurate given that I’m writing about something solid. Though the more I think about it, this vase is already both an indefinite thing and a definite object.  

‘Thing’ encompasses the idea of the vase that resides in its volutes and terra cotta-colored glaze—a romantic’s idea of neoclassicism. ‘Object’ covers the sensory experience of the vase when I touch its curves and watch it as the light changes the relationships between those curves over the course of the day. 

But why ‘inexhaustible?  Partly because this vase never fails to satisfy something in me; partly because it is impossible to not to see something new in it every time I look at it. This is the Mobius strip of  perception(s) which James Dodd describes as “…the fulfillment of form and the stubborn indeterminateness of material existence.”1 He was writing about architecture, but I am going to take the liberty of applying it to artifacts.  Particularly in this case, since this vase is clearly a pilaster hollowed out to hold a plant. Given that the first columns were most likely trees, it seems fitting that this one should host some vegetation.

1. James Dodd. Phenomenology, Architecture and the Built World: Exercises in Philosophical Anthropology. (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2017) 73.

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