Each 118cm x 95cm.
Is This Your Face? No! It is the Face of your Mother and Father Each artwork relates to a particular document, postcard or image dating from the year 1764. They are the result of research into personal history and genetics. Layers and layers of infinite generations have created who we are. It is an exploration of where we come from in terms of our existence. The very beginnings of the development of life in terms of an infinite time sequence. Generation charts have been worked onto the paper like watermarks. Allusion to time and memory in the form of patterns and geometric shapes are evident in the artworks, as well as mapping and diagrammatic drawings relating to genetics. Some artworks are a reversed image of an artwork. The reverse image suggests that things are often not what they first appear to be. There is so much more to a person or to life than we can ever know by appearance. There is complexity behind the perceived image. Each art work can be referenced to the relevant document, letter, postcard, or has post office stamps to indicate place and date. Media: Aluminium, mirrors, cheque book stubs, teabag paper.
Size: Each 118cm x 95cm. The Artworks: History and Genetics 1 Herr Director! 1918 Inspired by an original letter written by the German military during the First World War, to my great grandfather Hermann Eisner. Eisner was the inventor of the first ‘voice box’ in Germany before the First World War. It was used for people who were injured in the throat. 2 Herr Director! 1918 A mirrored image of ‘Herr Director! 1918’, the artwork also shows mappings of generations of people which indicate the many layers of traits that families inherit from each other. 3 Replicating Genetic Information The diagram shows genetic information retained in polymers that have reversible main bonding. Certain repetitive markings are seen throughout the series of artworks. These are related to transferring elements in nature such as DNA. DNA is the only gene in nature that can copy or code for itself. It is self-replicating. Intrinsic in this idea is a cubular three-dimensional puzzle called ‘Artists Block’ which is presently being patented. 4 Replicating Genetic Information A mirrored image of ‘Replicating Genetic Information’. The diagram shows genetic information retained in polymers that have reversible main bonding. 5 Testament, 1927 The Will and Testement of Hermann Eisner in April 1927. 6 Testament, 1927 Mirrored image. Will and Testament of Eisner in April 1927. 7 Post Card from Bremen, 1924 A post card written by Eva and Herman Eisner to their family telling about a cruise they had enjoyed on the ‘New York Bremen’ in 1924. 8 Post Card from Bremen, 1924 A post card written by Eva and Hermann Eisner to their family telling about a cruise they had enjoyed on the ‘New York Bremen’ in 1924. 9 Death of Felix A letter written in 1917 on the Homocord letterhead declared the death of my grandmother's first husband at the age of 23 in the First World War. The Homocord company was owned by my great grandfather Hermann Eisner, director of the Homofone company.
Is this your Face? No, it is the Face of your Mother and Father
'Mapping Generations' represents aspects of generations of descendants and an immeasurable number of generations through time. The Mapping Series is based on research into particular aspects of my ancestors dating back to 1764. Actual family names and dates replace every Tenth number on the spine of the chequebook stubs. They physically denote Centuries in time.
The numbers Ten or Tenth have particular meaning in this work. They form part of many words we use in everyday language which relate to physical and mental states in humans; for example tense, tenacity, tendon, tentuous and tender. The word Ten is also considered an Hebraism and an indefinite term for 'Many Children'.
The Ten Commandments have numerical and spiritual connotations. According to The Bible Code (Drosnin 1997:95), the words 'ten', 'thought' and 'computer' are embedded in the cryptic letters. This is of interest to me as I am currently creating patterns which map many layers of generations on computer.
Eighteen family names are at the bottom of the work. Eighteen is 'Chai' in Hebrew. It means Life.
Rows of numberless and nameless chequebook stubs, 2500 in all, are in the main body of work and on the curved aluminium frame at the bottom of the artwork allude to the incalculable number of individuals through time, past, present and future.
Included amongst the family names are my great grandfather, Hermann Eisner and his wife Eva, (married in 1888). Eisner invented the first ‘voice box’ in Germany and assisted the German army in the First World War by setting up a clinic for people who had been shot (or otherwise injured) in the throat. Eisner invented the formula for the 78 speed record in Germany and was the director of the Homocord Record Company in Berlin.
Book: Mapping Generations
The Book which accompanies the artwork includes a brief account of my father’s family history and his collection of information on his ancestors. I make reference to music and the invention of the 78 speed record by Hermann Eisner, by showing a visual interpretation of the path taken by the stylus in the groove of a vinyl record carrying vertical modulation. Written in the book are also the formula used to make the records.
Reference to his wife Eva, my great grandmother, is made by tracking the dates of her 'Yahrzeit' (recorded each year on the date of her passing and symbolised with the lighting of a 'Yartzeit' candel), as is found in the original family memorial book.
As part of the Artwork Mapping Series, I have recorded the voice of my great, grandparents and my father from 78 speed records onto a Companion CD – ROM.
Messages recorded on the CD-ROM
- Hermann and Eva’s message of congratulations to their daughter Helene, my grandmother, on her marriage in 1912
- Eva congratulates her husband on the birth of their first grandchild in 1913
- Recordings of birthday greetings from Eva to Hermann in 1925 & 1926
- Eva’s birthday greeting to her grandson Hans Heinz Lesser (my father) in 1928
- In 1929 Eve congratulates my grandmother on her 38th birthday
- My father's speech at his Barmitzva celebration in 1932 (at the age of 13).
- My father has the original master copies of several of these records, one of which was a message from the staff of the Homocord Record Factory to my great grandparents on the occasion of their silver wedding anniversary.
Mapping Generations and the symbol of Ten
With Ten utterances the world was created (The complete ArtScroll Siddur1987:571)
Mapping Gererations is based on both the history of my ancestors and the premise that layers of generations take us back to the very beginning of creation and genetics that history and genetics are linked. The Kabbalah shows that spiritual dynamics affect history. The Kabbalah describes the merging of the soul with the divine flow of history as a ‘cosmic kiss’(Wolf 1999:34). The letters of the Hebrew alphabet are symbols depicting the basic spiritual components of creation.
The Genealogy of Mankind is the narrative that enumerates:
The Ten generations from Adam to Noah (The Chumash 1993:25). It begins with Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech and lastly , Noah who died 126 years after Adam had died.
Then there are:
- The Ten generations from Noah to Abraham,
- Abraham was tested with Ten trials,
- Ten miracles were performed in the Holy Temple in Egypt,
- Ten miracles at the Sea,
- Ten plagues were brought upon the Egyptions,
- Ten things were created on the Sabbath evening.
- Ten Men are required for a minuim.
The Ten spiritual flows of the Sefirot in the Ka