Untitled, 2023

Digital carvings on oak wood.

Untitled is a series of wooden relief panels carved entirely from solid oak, with which Couzijn explores the use of religious iconography in contemporary visual culture.

Though artisanal in appearance, the reliefs were composed digitally in 3D software, partially through the use of various computer science technologies. With a combination of organic shapes resembling twisted trees or gnarled branches as well as fragmented geometric shapes and distorted human figures, the ornamental relief panels inevitably refer to religious and mythological iconography in a highly concrete yet abstract way. In doing so, the work attempts to bring together the histories, cultures, and craftsmanships of the past with the visual culture of today. By using elements that allude to the palpable absence of a divine entity, Couzijn retains the ornamental beauty and symbolism of traditional religious art, without depicting it directly.

Simultaneously, the work engages with philosophical themes about the ever-increasing ubiquity of the developments in computer science and how advanced computer technologies may breathe new life into our relationship with the unknown. In the past, it was religion that gave us an existence and something to strive for. Science largely marked the end of believing in the unknown and gave us the freedom to rationally understand and control the world. Now we have arrived at a point where computer technologies could play the role of celestial deity, some entity of a numerical nature, which is only and essentially described by its incomprehensibility. The work raises the question if computer science can make us believe in the unknown again. Can it give us directions and purpose? Can it give new meaning to "the incomprehensible"? With these works, Couzijn considers the ways in which computer technologies could shape our spiritual and cultural practices, by recontextualizing religious and mythological symbols with contemporary methods.

For inquiries: thomas@plus-one.be.

With many thanks to Sjoerd Kloosterhuis, Finn Wagner, Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Stichting Stokroos and Christian Herren.

5 relief panels: c.a. 40 x 50 x 8 cm (size varies per sculpture)