Sculptor Fabian Oefner is a master of deconstruction. Piece by piece, he dismantles ordinary objects and transforms them into high art by highlighting their inner workings. His newest set of work, The Heisenberg Series, sees him dissecting six objects that all help record our memories. Shoes, a clock, a tape recorder, a camera, and a black box were all filled with resin, sliced into pieces, and then carefully assembled into sculpture. The results are artworks that are familiar from a distance but begin to dissolve as viewers approach them.
Oefner's inspiration came from Werner Heisenberg's famous Uncertainty Principle. In quantum mechanics, this means that when you measure one property, such as momentum or energy, it's increasingly difficult to take an accurate reading of a second property like position or time. “I applied this idea to these six sculptures,” Oefner tells My Modern Met. “When you look at them from a distance, you can easily identify the object. However, if you start to get closer to observe the inside, the shape of the object starts to get distorted and vanishes completely. As an observer, you are never able to look at the object as a whole and its inner workings simultaneously. The more accurately we see one view, the less clearly we see the other. Your interaction with the sculpture ultimately determines its appearance.”
Each sculpture invites the viewer in to study its details and provides newfound intimacy with these familiar objects. The creative process is a painstaking one, as Oefner must create his own roadmap on how to dismantle each one, occasionally breaking them along the way. In fact, he needed to use two Leica cameras, as the first one was destroyed by the resin. As for how they were selected for the project, Oefner carefully considered the items he used and each one relates to the same theme—memory.
“They all record something,” Oefner shares. “With the camera, the tape recorder, and the black box it's obvious—they either record an image or a voice, a piece of music, etc. The clock keeps track of time or you could also say that it records it. The one thing a little less obvious is the sneakers. But to me, sneakers are like recording machines that keep track of our motion. The shoes used are 1985 Nike Cortez. I often wonder about all the different places around the world they were walked to…So, in a way, the series is about fragmentation or distortion of memory.”