WILLIAM COBBING ‘HAPTIC LOOP’

A text by Sacha Craddock

Cobbing’s sculpture and film play directly with and into each other. Moving and static each time, this work is as descriptive as it is symbolic. The work exemplifies the relationship between sight, touch, and sometimes sound.  However awkward and ultimately frustrating, a stumbling attempt at communication is present.  From the blank slate on the head, to the book cover in relief, Cobbing’s work is made up of a cycle in which sense and feeling is perpetually reduced and then replenished.

Blinded by clay, immersed, suffocated almost, and yet, however challenged, he, she, or they, are still able to breath. The two people with an angular build-up of mass, are packed into the same rationale and fiction. The distinct feeling is that the further they may go, the more impossible it will be to retain power and character. And yet the film work is not really about the virtuosity of the durational performance. Pushing and pulling, appearing to form a more and more extended body, the build-up seems to mimic the production of material by bees in a hive. We see the rendition, hear the silence, as the distinction between making and finishing never comes to an end.

In real life we witness, touch without knowing, and feel without feeling. But here, from the outside, we see what the participant can never see. But if you close your eyes and touch someone else’s skin, you may or may not visualise the body. That is often very much beside the point. Sensation is suggestion, sex is promise, time and surface are extended till the work Cobbing makes becomes about and a result of the act as much as the image itself. Sculpture is rendered blind, film self-evident, while the perpetual performance makes the point as if every day.

Accompanied by the sound of dripping water two people caress in ‘Long Distance’ 2018. The surface remains the dominant element in an apparently perpetual state of creativity. Two blank faces face each other in ‘Text Based’. Smothered, covered, with clay, each is an empty page. This is a parlour game, the equivalent of a rizla on the forehead, but at times there is nothing to see, from both sides. The blankness is not just a matter of expression. Messages, mots, and moments, keenly written only to be eradicated, are still not lost. 

‘The Kiss’ against unsighted sight, is a reaction to the metaphor of undoing and redoing, still without the ability to wipe the slate clean. ‘Anatomy Lesson’ carries the same soft, caressing, the niggling imbalance between action and a build-up of effect. But a little different. Film is action here, and vice versa. The relation between movement and stillness remains unclear, the moment is flat, but still made up of repetition. There is sometimes the sound of matter falling, but the heads, as containers, do something else. Softly caressing the clay, dark liquid matter is suddenly released to flow and mark like slip gently manipulated across the surface of an unfired pot. The artwork is alive, whether moving or still, in that the person, or hand in the sculpture, has become the object which makes itself. Cobbing’s sculpture and film are at one, once again, as each are able to describe how the other has arrived.