Vong Phaonphanit and Claire Oboussier

White neon figure

Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, Qatar, Doha

7 white neon glass tubes, glass cylinder and amature

White neon figure embodies a sense of fragility and re-introduces a human gesture into this highly designed architectural space. The human graphic gesture, as found in drawing, handwriting, engraving and mark making in general, contains at once universal and very individual characteristics: universal in that all human beings engage in gestural mark making of one kind or another, and individual in that this is often culturally, linguistically and individually bound. It is this duality – macro/micro - that intrigues us about the human drawn line.

White neon figure could therefore be described as an abstract human gesture, not a human form but a human trace. The work is composed of a number of fine white neon hand drawn lines, rather like filaments, that have been sculpted into a fragile suspended form. The hand drawn quality of each line is carefully retained and reproduced precisely in the treatment of the neon. This nuanced, sensitive working of neon is a leitmotif of our practice, something we have explored for many years and it acts as an anti-dote to the ubiquitous, standardised neon ‘vernacular’ to be found around the world.

The colour white we have chosen for the universality of its resonance, the purity of its light and for its understated elegance, which is appropriate to the space. White neon is particularly beautiful and has an ephemeral delicacy that we believe would add something of real significance in this particular context. The palette of white neon offers considerable choice (from cool to warm) and we will give consideration to the best hue of white for this work and this space during detailed design stage.

Housed in a vast transparent ‘jar’, White neon figure seems to float and emits a white glow that infuses the space around it. The work is left open to multiple metaphor: suggestive of neurons, of root systems, or simply the complex pattern of veins within a single leaf, it is, of course, none of these. It is unclassifiable, unnameable but silently linked to all that is human.

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