Langdon Graves, ‘Res Extensa’, 2013, VICTORI+MO CONTEMPORARY

This 2014 series ('Res Cogitans', 'Res Extensa', & 'Francine the Machine') is an exploration of the theories and drawings of French philosopher, mathematician, and writer Descartes. They were published in The Treatise of Man, in which he mapped out his notions of the function and purpose of the pineal gland. He thought of the pineal gland as a kind of spiritual antenna, the root of the human soul and the main message center among mind, body and spirituality.

Descartes believed that mental events belong to a kind of substance - an immaterial substance - he called Res Cogitans, "thinking thing." This is in contrast with Res Extensa, "material substance," that extends in to space, rather than the mind.

Scientists have very recently begun to study the pineal gland's composition, chiefly for its involvement in sleep and the production of melatonin and serotonin. The studies also reveal a kind of devolved eye, containing photoreceptors like those in our retinas. Descartes' diagrams and ideas indicate that he did in fact think of the pineal as a kind of hidden, third eye, echoing imagery that appears throughout the spiritual art and design of many cultures.

About Langdon Graves

In her drawings and sculptures, Langdon Graves depicts disembodied parts of the human form, homing in on eyes, ears, and teeth, and manipulating them with meticulous technical skill. She introduces unusual qualities, such as bees teeming around a pair of hands, or sculptures in which imagined domestic objects are imbued with corporeal innards. Case, for example, is a sea foam-colored pillow-like object sprouting hair, with a red “organelle” seeping out of a half-open zipper. For Graves, her objects and drawings are steeped in folk traditions and mysticism, and interrogate the construction of reality and beliefs. “The work on the whole seeks to reveal that a reality constructed by our beliefs and one determined by actual events are one and the same,” she has said.

American, b. 1978, Virginia, United States, based in Brooklyn, NY, United States