Tobias Klein, Jane Prophet: Common Datum

  • ©2020, Tobias Klein and Jane Prophet

  • ©2020, Tobias Klein and Jane Prophet
  • ©2020, Tobias Klein and Jane Prophet

  • ©2020, Tobias Klein and Jane Prophet



    Common Datum


Creation Year:



    Glass and 3d printing


Artist Statement:

    The air we exhale is 100% saturated with water. The air in the lungs is essentially saturated with water at 37 C, which is about 44 mg/liter. The average lung capacity of an adult is about 6 liters. Once exhaled, the air cools to the ambient temperature, leaving the air supersaturated. If it is cool enough it will form a visible cloud. When our breath comes in contact with a cold surface, it will leave visible condensation.

    Common Datum is an environmentally reactive, hygroscopic sculpture. A series of suspended 3D printed vessels continuously absorb the humidity in the meticulously environmentally controlled exhibition space. This humidity stems from the visitors. It is generated through their breath and the conversations they have. The process of filtering this humidity is based on maximizing surface area in lamellae-like 3D printed constructs (condensers), and through a chemical hygroscopic substance attracting the water from the air. Slowly each 3D printed condenser accumulates water. Upon saturation, it drips along a series of threads into three glass volumes, mirroring the murmurs of conversation around the artwork. Without witnesses, in silence, the artworks cease to produce water. It stops, becomes inanimate without visitors, and only restarts when visitors’ humidity can be traced in the vicinity of the artwork.

    The work explores the notion of reifying invisible forces, condensing the invisible traces of our presence as a physical element, accumulating the spoken memory of a place— participatory phenomenon— into a solid form. The work articulates a confluence between traditional and digital craft in the context of environmental art. The articulation of such techne, the condensation, and poiesis, the memory, is a timeless and constant problem of any craftsmanship and one “in which Sublimation and Reification act as techne and the methods of Amalgamation/Augmentation as poiesis” [Klein 2018]. The medium is the site of an operational synthesis; a confluence of techniques and concepts so symbiotically intertwined that they cannot, and should not, be hierarchized one beneath the other.

    Common Datum increases the complexities arising from combining traditional materials and making processes, digital fabrication approaches, articulating novel characteristics of materials, and choreographed environmental reactions and forces, and thus, evolves and extends the notion of what constitutes a digital craft. It focuses on the application of a set of physical forces and reactive, entropic states, extending the binary relation between traditional and digital making, the simulations of dynamic and inanimate systems. The synthesis of forces allows the discourse to include spatial and participatory elements, extending the object-based discourse to a notional architectural context.