Installation of Bronze Sculptures, 2008
25 x 8 x 1.5 cm (each sculpture, installation dimensions vary)

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Block/Scope This installation consists of two bronze sculptures cast from the same hand-sculpted wax model. The sculptures are a matching pair of curly braces, typographical characters that, while uncommon in normal prose, are used extensively in computer programming. In the installation, the two braces are hung on a wall with a small space between the sculptures and the wall to emphasize that these are three dimensional sculptures, not two dimensional characters on a screen or paper. The spatial configuration of the two sculptures in relation to each other can vary in each hanging, but it will always obey the convention that applies in programming: the brace that opens to the right will sit at an equal or higher vertical position than the brace that opens to the left.

In both programming and this installation, a pair of curly braces physically defines a space by framing it at its upper, lower, left, and right boundaries. In both cases, though, the braces also define a conceptual space. When looking at a computer program in C consisting of many lines of code, it is not always obvious when or if a given line or lines will be executed. The order in which the program runs does not always proceed directly from the top to the bottom of the instructional text (code), often jumping forward or backward or going through repetitive loops. Against this backdrop, a pair of curly braces frames a series of lines as a physical and conceptual unit called a block. The lines in a given block always execute in order from top to bottom, and if one of them executes, they will all execute.

The same physical space between two curly braces in a C program forms a different conceptual space called a scope. In a program, constructs called variables are used as placeholders for storing data (information). Every variable has a name, and a scope is the outer limit of meaning for each of these names. If a variable name is defined somewhere between a pair of curly braces, then that name will have no meaning in any part of the program that lies outside of those curly braces. But there is yet another way in which a scope constitutes a space. All data in a computer must be stored in the computer's memory. Data is often grouped into larger entities such as files, which may contain documents, pictures, or sounds. But files are solid entities only conceptually, for the data that constitutes a single file may in fact exist in many separate pieces in distant parts of the computer's memory, much more like a cloud of data than a brick. Again the curly braces enter to frame a distinct space, because all the data for all the variables in a scope framed by a pair of curly braces will be stored in one contiguous space in the computer's memory.

Thus, curly braces serve as frames for issues of order, meaning, and place in the conceptual space of computer programs. The artist turns to them to frame similar issues in the physical and conceptual spaces of sculpture and installation. He does this as a computer programmer whose previous artistic work always involved digital technologies and flat presentation media such as video screens and paper. With this piece, the artist makes his first foray into traditional sculptural methods, using his own hands to physically produce a final result in real world three dimensional space. The curly braces, familiar markers from the artist's programming background, now frame an emptiness, a physical space that is a symbol of the new conceptual space, the block and scope, into which the artist has thus ventured.