Peter Decker's notes

Guild Unlimited

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Reproduction Guild

Installation by Peter Deckers

23 - 10 - 2001

for: Guild Unlimited

@ ©  ™  ®

Background to the work:

 Story telling has been and still is a valid reflection of experiences. It marks connections intrinsic to association and these share important symbolism and value. In the combination of jewellery and its attached stories, the holder of the memory accommodates irrepressible power and emotional structure of authenticity.  The maker of such objects is merely providing an ample ‘soapbox’, where such constructs can take place.

The object/sound installation, ‘The Reproduction Guild’ reverses the former axiom.

 The placement of image and sound is not new. The daily experience of an object and its noise, with its philological stamina, informs us in order to classify. The ways humans receive information endorses (objective, subjective-) formulated opinions and doctrines. The embodied codes are referential to time, position and inclination. By accepting the information as the fundamental truth, its dichotomy will endorse re-evaluation.

The way information is read as a stable sign, of a unified subject, of identity and of truth, is debatable. Signs differ from each other and from themselves in that their constitutive nature is one of a constant displacement of “trace” – the trace left by an infinite chain of unstable re-signification within boundless context of intertextuality (Derrida 1981a: 27). Those floating signifiers are operational minefields for interpretations.  By introducing a categorised format of unrelated subjects classified under the one heading ‘The Reproduction Guild’, the ontology opens multiple interpretations. Each individual plateau supporting the works shares the same principle of differentiating and qualification.  The related ‘sinkers’ (dual functions as security devices) inform and summarise the physical and mental phenomenon even more.

 The string of sound polarises the perception of the thematic reference in its context, embodying suppositions. The 4 separate speakers with their string of speech and sounds will test the viewer’s ability to decipher, construe, separate, compare, designate and identify the noise-rumble and visual representation into a perceptible relationship of information. Through the arrangement of these (sometimes uncomfortable) polarities the perceptual relationship stands to manifest, informing the context of the works and the placement of the concept.

  The hard contrast within the work and partly the sound reinforces the assumptions that (alleged) quality, style, formula and its cognition are of an artificial construct and are incompatible with reality. In daily life we experience hard-edged processes at work creating new rules, relationships and (dis-)order. The event of the 11th of September has proven that.

Subdivisions of the separate works:

 The installation to the Reproduction Guild is developed from a series of 4 speakers and plateaus supporting individual pieces of jewellery. The work is accompanied by voice and sound compositions representing the Digital, Manual, Manufactured, Processed’ divisions of reproducing/reproduction.

1. [email protected]

The ‘digital’ world turns data into digital information, regardless of content or moral doctrines. The work contains 5 pixelated portraits of significant historical figures from the computer industry (‘Digital Division no1’ Babbage, ‘-no2’ Konrad Zuse, ‘-no3’ John von Neumann, ‘-no4’ Steve Jobs, ‘-no5’ Bill Gates).

The 6th work is a (blue) pixelated self-portrait resembling the end-user, bearing the title: ‘digital identity no 6/heroic victim’. The dichotomy of the title relates to the end-users fixation with the computer where the open-ended possibilities enslave the user. In the security devices, connecting the 6 brooches, parts of the original images can been detected.
 The consorted music has been composed from sampled sound bites of cows, sheep, birds, horses, cats, cicada’s, cuckoo clock, bells, wind, water, rain, films, pots and pans, etc and digital reproduced into semi harmonic and rhythmical compositions. The text to the catalogue has been digitally translated by a computer program into a wave file and can be heard together with interviews from digital copiers/experts, as well as noises from digital transportation devices and (early) computer games.

2. Manual ©

 The ‘manual’ copiers can be divided into groups of craftspeople occupied in replication. Copying manuscripts under the scrupulous control of a religious order has changed through the centuries to reproduction within the laws of copyright. Whilst ownership is protected, it is also challenged and manipulated through the skill of counterfeiters and copyists. 


The ‘signature rings’ contain rubber signatures of 5 famous artists: Leonardo da Vinci, Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Picasso and Andy Warhol.

Slices of the artist’s self-portraits can be detected in the security devises connected to the rings.

The sound is mixed from interviews with relevant experts, like second-hand dealers, copyright advisers, radio/TV footage of local and international cases of forgery and other individual stories about authenticity formulating the constructs of societal positions. The notion of originality is discussed on one occasion, which throws up an interesting debate about origins and ownership resulting in a subdued legal classification of the copyright-protection law as played in the hands of the judicial system.  

3. Manufactured ™

The simplicity of manufacturing goods for the consumption-society is connected to a complex system of support.  Mass production is delicately linked with consumer demand, industrial processes and technology, mass profits, economic growth and the ultimate: political stability. By the collapse of the twin towers with its ricochet effect, the economy seems more then ever related to and affected by, the nature of political order. The two separate hollow piles of 220 steel ‘Quantum’ badges loosely stacked together filled with safety pins stands for the number of destroyed floors of the World Trade Centre. In the continuous string of sound a laser cutter is ‘manufacturing’ those 220 badges overlaid with a repetitive advertisement from the forties, footage from President Bush’s emotional reaction to the 11th of September attacks, President Nixon’s answer to a new Russian economic plan and commentators, economic experts and journalist’s response to the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

 The sphere formed by pierced eagles, cut from dimes suspended from the stacks gives perceptual strength to the 2 towers above, but conducts no structural force at all. This condition of perception is commentary to the vulnerability of the present economic model seemingly conditioned by primitive and emotional reflexes. The notion that vulnerable items (in this case the 2 loose stacks) can draw ominous individuals to afflict sabotage is part of the cerebration.

4. Processed ®

‘Processed’ copying introduces cloning and genetic engineering, but also its counterpart: natural growth and procreation.

 Carbon is found in abundance in the sun, stars, comets, and atmospheres of most planets and is used in one brooch to represent the origins of life and its evolutionary process of reproduction. The work titled ‘Carbon Copy’ represents the stage of carbon transformation, from cut-ebony, -graphite, and -jet to the ultimate, cut diamond and connected to a security sinker made of gold and a 2-carat raw diamond.

Human fixation on copying natural processes with synthetic methods is expressed in the similitude brooch ‘Copy of Carbon’, where the artificial stones are composed of everything not carbon: Yag (first synthetic imitation of diamond), glass, steel and alloyed silver with the security sinker made of gold plated nickel silver (imitation silver) and a piece of broken glass. All these inserted materials are set according to traditional methods into silver or respectively imitation silver.

Scientists and futurists discuss on the consorted soundtrack the process, discoveries and future of natural and super natural phenomenology.

The natural act of procreation is a process force of attraction, belonging to the survival of the species. The two works that represent the transformation of ‘the woman’ into ‘the mother’ are divided into desire/allure (‘Houri’) and its subsequent effect (‘Mummy’).

The sinkers embody standard wedding rings and are sized according to the finger size of an adult man and women in the Houri ring. The Mummy brooch with small images of babies and nipples behind moonstones has as a security device a woman’s and a baby’s wedding ring.

Baby, love and delivery noises, together with comments of career midwives are overlaid on the soundtrack

 The current fixation on reproduction is found in the hefty debate about genetic engineering and cloning.

A commentary trophy-ring is placed as a kind of award for the ruthless scientist with a sphere fabricated of multiples of “Dolly the sheep”. The centre synthetic sapphire simulates the analogy of original make up, which conforms to the atomic quality of natural sapphire, in absence of impurities, delicacy or interest.

The security sinker constitutes a 3 dimensional copy of the ‘two fingers image’ from the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling fresco by Michelangelo.

The sampled interviews are about current issues of moral and ethical validation.

Peter Deckers


PO Box 40865, Upper Hutt. Email: [email protected]

The Reproduction Guild individual works:

  1. [email protected]: 6 brooches

   1. *Digital division no 1* stg silver, acrylic/print

         (sinker: acrylic/print)

   2. *Digital division no 2* stg silver, acrylic/print

       (sinker: acrylic/print)

   3.  *Digital division no 3* stg silver, acrylic/print

        (sinker: acrylic/print)

   4. *Digital division no 4* stg silver, acrylic/print

        (sinker: acrylic/print)

   5. *Digital division no 5* stg silver, acrylic/print

        (sinker: acrylic/print)

   6. *Digital identity no 6/heroic victim*, stg silver, acrylic/print

       (sinker: acrylic/print)

2. Manual©: 5 *Signatures rings*

 7. *Leonardo da Vinci stamp*, stg silver, rubber

  (sinker: acrylic/print)

    8. *Monet stamp*, stg silver, rubber, simulated pearls

       (sinker: acrylic/print)

    9. *Vincent van Gogh stamp*, stg silver, rubber

       (sinker: acrylic/print)

  10. *Picasso stamp*, stg silver, rubber

       (sinker: acrylic/print)

  11. *Andy Warhol stamp*, stg silver, rubber, stretched USA coin, ink pad

       (sinker: acrylic/print)

3. Manufactured™: 220x brooches

  12. *Quantum* mild steel, brass safety pin

        (sinker: cut from dimes)

4. Processed®: 2 rings and 3 brooches

  13.  *Carbon copy*, (brooch) stg silver, nickel silver:

        Antwerp-cut Diamond, cut Jet, cut Graphite, cut Ebony

        (sinker: 18kt gold, 2 ct raw diamond)

  (note: the listed sequence of materials is important)  

  14.  *Copy of carbon* (brooch) nickel silver, steel:

        cut Yag (simulated diamond), cut Glass, cut Iron, cut Silver

        (sinker: gold    plated nickel silver, raw glass)

        (note: the listed sequence of materials is important)

  15. *Houri* (in Muslim belief one of the dark-eyed virgins of perfect beauty believed to live with the blessed in Paradise/ A voluptuously beautiful  young woman) (woman's ring), stg silver, simulated pearls

        (sinker: gold plated stg silver)

  16.  *Mummy* (brooch), stg silver,

        (sinker: gold plated stg silver)

  17. *Trophy Ring (for the Ruthless Scientist)* stg silver, synthetic sapphire       

         (sinker: acrylic/print)


People I like to thank:

 Kevin Murray, curator to Guild Unlimited

Carol Shepheard from Elam, who gave me the initial push to pursue with the exhibition and for allowing this to be the MFA submission

Anne Mc Gill for her knowledge and voice and vision on maternity care, which is used in the ‘Processed’ sound track

Lindsay Missen for his sane perspective and help on publishing text lines in catalogues

Whitireia Community Polytechnic, in particular Susan Forbes, Rozel Pharazyn, Bob Cater and Dawn Roberson for her interview about and providing links to the copy world

Julian Tyerman, who was so generous with his time and for organising and driving to and from interviews with second-hand dealers and others who were conned or were small experts on that field; used in Manual, plus for providing his expertise of cutting and drilling the glass for the display

President Bush, Nixon, and many other -so called experts who are not aware to have participated in this installation

A.E. Tilley LTD, Wellington, who provided the laser technology and sponsored the 220, laser-cut ‘Quantum’ plates in ‘Manufactured’

Craft Victoria, for flying me to and from Melbourne

The pilot of flight Q 24, for the removal of a terrorist before take-off

Kristelle Plimmer, for her generous and instant contribution in correcting the spelling mistakes in this paper.

And last, all other people who lend their voices and support.


Peter Deckers