Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson: Making a Record (Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald)

Listen to the audio: MDubbin-ADavidson-Diamond-256k

“Making a Record (Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald)” centers around a series of four interviews the artists conducted in 2009 with gemologist and jewelry designer Karen L. Davidson, talking about the stones used to record her voice. The artists made lithic tools from the four gemstones and etched a series of unique lathe-cut dub plates of each interview. Each of the four gemstone styli were given to Karen to use as elements in four pieces she designed. These handmade pieces are composed of the stylus, crystal slices or stones in their natural states, cut gems and 22k gold. Each of the four pieces can be worn as a pendant.

Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Pierre Huyghe, Marina Warner and Jamieson Webster were invited by the artists to listen to the records and wear the pendants, exhibiting them for varied lengths of time. The information contained on the records was transmitted through casual conversations and occurrences that took place during their daily lives. A record of these instances in the form of a text was contributed by each individual.

“Making a Record (Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald),” 2009 – 2013, was exhibited at Audio Visual Arts (AVA), New York January 18 – February 17, 2013.

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Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson, Torch, 2011

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Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson, Ruby Pendant, 2011, Ruby stylus used to cut ruby record, rubies, 22k gold, made by Karen L. Davidson, Courtesy of the artists and AVA, NY

 

The surface looks as if it has been inscribed, though, and as I listen to Karen’s impassioned voice unfolding her wisdom, a Shahrazad of gemmological mysteries, and catch, between her words, the scritching and bumping of the ruby needle as it vibrates on the disc it’s incising to her pauses and her breath, the largest of the rubies on the pendant in my hand took on cosmic size, and I remembered someone telling me once that she had met an astronaut. He had been out in space and she asked him whether he could smell the void. He said, ‘No, because we are sealed in our space suits when he leave the capsule.’ But then he added, after a beat, ‘There is a moment, though, when the smell of space is still clinging to the suit when we come back inside.’ She urged him on. After another pause, he said, ‘It smells like banging two rocks together.’ —Excerpt from Ruby by Marina Warner, 2013, From the project “Making a Record (Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald),” 2013.

Not only did the amazing variety of form found in stones persuade Caillois that human invention is only a development of the data inherent in things, but also in minerals through aesthetics, he found history. Those fusions, pressures, ruptures, imprints of matter on matter have left traces inside and out which sometimes almost exactly resemble writing and which actually do transcribe events from millions of years ago. “There are impossible scribblings in nature, written by neither men nor by devils,” and seeming to foreshadow the insatiable human passion for meaning and recording. —Marguerite Yourcenar, Introduction to the 1985 translation of Roger Caillois’ The Writing of Stones (L’ecriture des pierres), 1970.

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Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson, Corundum (2), 2011

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Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson, Sapphire Pendant, 2011, Sapphire stylus used to cut sapphire record, sapphires, 22k gold, made by Karen L. Davidson, Courtesy of the artists and AVA, NY

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Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson, Emerald Pendant, 2011, Emerald stylus used to cut emerald record, emeralds, 22k gold, made by Karen L. Davidson, Courtesy of the artists and AVA, NY

 

Who knows whether this tumult of triangles inscribed in stone, first brought about by nature and then by art, does not contain one of the secret cyphers of the universe?

For a stone represents an obvious achievement, yet one arrived at without invention, skill, industry, or anything else that would make it a work in the human sense of the word, much less a work of art.

They should not exist, and yet they do, at once impossible and inescapable. —Roger Caillois, The Writing of Stones (L’ecriture des pierres), 1970

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Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson, Triangles, 2011

It looked like a transparent piece of nothing. But if you looked under the microscope what you had was a very very durable little piece of triangles, on triangles, in triangles, with triangles. —Karen L. Davidson,  “Diamond” interview, 2009 From the project “Making a Record (Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald),” 2013

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Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson, Diamond Pendant, 2011, Diamond stylus used to cut diamond record, diamonds, 22k gold, made by Karen L. Davidson, Courtesy of the artists and AVA, NY

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