executed: 1999 to
object/work type: 
photo: Jean-Denis Frater/Musée Gassendi, Digne-les-Bains (2007)
rights & reproduction: herman de vries


classification:outdoor projects
technique/material:gold leaf
descriptive notes:In certain places in the Réserve Géologique, and in the forests of Faillefeu and the Steigerwald, de vries has placed on stones and rocks, or on the masonry of certain buildings, a small engraved dot of gold. Each of these constitutes a virtually invisible point on the surface of the earth, its positioning random or, rather, intuitively arbitrary, having no topographical or historical significance beyond its presence as a marker of de vries's respect and love for the terrain. Gold, which is the crucial constituent of the traces made around Digne and Eschenau, is used for its intrinsic beauty as a pure mineral element, for its ancient sacramental significance, and as a reminder of its usage as an index of value in its broadest sense in the cultores of both East and West. Each gold dot might also be seen as making an axis point at the junction of the sacred six dimensions by which the Hopi Indians defined a human being's presence on the earth - the four directions of the wind, down into the earth, up into the sky - an idea that has haunted de vries since childhood. "everything, everything represents the continuum," he wrote in a sketchbook in 1990, "in which we ourselves are a point - a continuum point the continuum itself."

The small gold points are quite specifically related by de vries to Proposition 2.013.1 in Tractatus: 'A spatial object must lie in infinite space. (A point in space is an argument place.)' In this, however, they represent not arguments of the kind propounded by men in favour of their mastery and possession of the finite and measurable earth, but rather the material actuality of space itself, and its infinite reach in every dimension, including that of the imagination. They are not of the nature of the professional surveyor's point of distance, the mark made to demarcate a territorial boundary, or the limit of a measuring chain, but speak in gold of the earth's own claim to be heard and respected. Encountered in their settings, embedded in the material, surrounded by grass and trees, open to the sky, and near the flow of water, these points in infinite space invite reverie, contemplation or meditation. Such a point might be anywhere or nowhere; seen or unseen, its 'argument' is a note in a song of the earth that has no beginning and no end.

[source: Mel Gooding, herman de vries. chance and change (Thames and Hudson : London 2006) 135-138].

signature and inscriptions:
current location:located Digne-les-Bains and Steigerwald
collecting history:

history of exhibitions

published references