Easter seems an appropriate time to share this piece. I didn’t create it because of religious convictions. My fascination was more of how the messages were always in need of translation of some kind or other for clarity, which is why the title. It seems impossible to achieve a single meaning even from the most simple of words, but in the end, they do provide a certain nourishment.
This work I designed and built through 1989-90. The challenge of redesigning the lettering of the LED into a vertical format was formidable, but luckily it was only two words, Jesus Said.
The text is composed of excerpts from The Gospel of Thomas, a tractate from The Nag Hammadi Library in English, published in 1978. These Coptic Gnostic texts date from 400 CE.
The Gospel of Thomas is a collection of traditional sayings, prophecies, proverbs and parables of Jesus. The authorship is attributed to Didymos Judas Thomas who is identified as Christ’s twin brother.
According to the introduction by Helmut Koester, the 114 collected sayings are the secret saying which the living Jesus spoke. Esoteric by design, the secret meanings are to be understood by not only recognizing our divine identity, but by separating ourselves from the world, a paring down of our corrupt existence in order to experience our origin (the light) and destiny (the repose).
To accentuate this concept of paring one’s self down to life’s essence, the text was fragmented allowing it to grow in tension and immediacy, the message distilled, the hope illuminated.
The horizontal arm was much easier to program. Finding the pace and flow to harmonize with the repetitive Jesus said, to meld them together was integral for the piece to achieve its own voice.
By reading the text below, Feeding the Five Thousand, I think you will begin to understand the cadence I was after.
The three transparencies are the head of the Shroud of Turin, fabled to be the body of Christ imprinted on the cloth he was wrapped in after the crucifixion and discarded upon his resurrection. I had it enlarged to a four foot by six foot negative black and clear image. A negative of a negative if you like.