THE INVISIBLE COLLEGE  |  Laura Piasta + Annika Rixen

In mid-17th century England, a group of scholars joined together to form ‘The Invisible College’. Essentially organized as a loose network of individuals who communicating through letters and in regular meetings, its core approach was the acquisition of knowledge through experimental investigation of a wide array of topics; these included alchemy, natural philosophy and the development of universal languages. One of its members working specifically on the latter was John Wilkins, whose efforts to develop a universal philosophical language has been immortalized by Jorge Luis Borges’ essay “The Analytical Language of John Wilkins”. Borges describes both the futility and the beauty of Wilkins’ attempt to decipher the language of the universe, striving to find a way to find expressions for all things material and immaterial. According to Borges, trying to define something that is in essence a mystery will necessarily fall short of its mandate. Nevertheless, even imperfect schemes can offer up contingencies for new ways of seeing and thinking.

Laura Piasta and Annika Rixen’s recent works explore both the possibilities and limitations of the legacy of systems, whether visual, organizational, or rhetorical. Rooted firmly in a poststructuralist discourse in which construction and deconstruction of ideas are two faces of the same coin, they make use of found imagery and objets trouvés, original photography, paintings, collage and ephemeral installations. They create an environment in which the attempt to locate a visual place of contemplation outweighs the necessity for a predefined reading. Inspired by sources as diverse as self-published science books, early optical devices and Surrealist photography, Laura Piasta and Annika Rixen use ‘The Invisible College’ as a metaphor for a web of ideas, spun between people and objects, sound and text, time and space.