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Leviathan #6, 2008

Robert Fones
Canadian, 1949
dye coupler print mounted on aluminum
116.8 x 173.7 cm
Purchased 2011
National Gallery of Canada (no. 43256.6)

Since the 1970s, Robert Fones has explored systems of industrial communication, graphic design, cultural symbolism, signs and letterforms. He investigates how they shift from markers of meaning to individual objects when isolated from their original contexts. The "Leviathan Series" was inspired by the complexity of British philosopher Thomas Hobbes' 1651 publication "Leviathan" and its focus on artificial life. Fones carved the first two sentences into 168 bulbous forms then flattened them by photographing each set digitally. Their syntactical function removed, the letters exist as independent entities, while the series as a whole parallels and contradicts Hobbes' sentiments, collapsing the space between nature and artifice, industry and craft, history and technology.

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