METRE: THE LENGTH OF THE PATH TRAVELED BY LIGHT  IN A VACUUM IN A TIME INTERVAL OF 1/299 798 452 OF A SECOND, (1971)

Variable media, variable dimensions, a work perpetually in progress 

 
 1927 October 6 - The seventh CGPM adjusts the definition of the metre to be the distance, 0˚C (32˚F), between the axes of the two central lines marked on the prototype bar of platinum-iridium, this bar being subject to one standard atmosphere of pressure and supported on two cylinders of at least 1cm (0.39in) diameter, symmetrically placed in the same horizontal plane at a distance of 571 millimetres (22.5 in) from each other.

1927 October 6 - The seventh CGPM adjusts the definition of the metre to be the distance, 0˚C (32˚F), between the axes of the two central lines marked on the prototype bar of platinum-iridium, this bar being subject to one standard atmosphere of pressure and supported on two cylinders of at least 1cm (0.39in) diameter, symmetrically placed in the same horizontal plane at a distance of 571 millimetres (22.5 in) from each other.

Metre is a sculptural text-based work, made in multiples, that is presented in changing and variable scenarios.  Each element is precisely 1000mm in length and is intended to stand alone as an independent work, be combined with other elements to form volumetric sculptural masses or even lined up end to end to effectively measure the various spaces in which the work may be shown.

Metre borrows its form from the first prototypical metre that was held under lock and key in Paris—a single and inaccessible metal bar that established standard metric measurement internationally until 1960. The International Standard Definition of the Metre, as determined by the Bureau International des Pois et Mesures, is as follows: “The length of the path traveled by light in a vacuum in a time interval of 1/299 798 452 of a second.”

The straightforward and simple aims of Science to define, reify, and ultimately know a thing seem at odds with the complexity of the systems it adopts.  The above definition not only relies on other systems outside of length (light, time) but it is unwieldy and ultimately serves no practical purpose.  One would not, for instance, describe the distance between NYC and Toronto as function of the speed of light. Metre is, physically, the very thing that it describes linguistically.  The doubling of meaning here is a gesture that both helps to explain what it represents and one that reveals its absurd impracticality.  Its ambiguity relates to a similar contradiction that language itself contains: the more words are devoted to a thing’s description, the more the description becomes subject to various interpretations.

 

Above: Metre Vinyl version installed at KWAG