David JENSZ | Continuum

Australia 1957

Continuum 2003
rubber, steel, compressed air
90.0 (h) x 250.0 (w) x 250.0 (d) cm
Purchased 2003
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
NGA 2003.421


The elegance and complexity of David Jensz’s sculptures brings to mind the rational constructions of mathematical theorems. While his sculptural forms are characterised by a striving for symmetry and resolution they also raise the question of our understanding of the universe and the ways in which contemporary physics seeks to explain it. Continuum is made in the shape of a ring, whose spiralling form recalls quantum physicist David Bohm’s theory of ‘implicate order’: the idea that information about the whole of a form is encoded within even its smallest fragment. The work confounds our understanding of the concepts of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, and ‘beginning’ and ‘end’, as the form turns into itself in infinite repetition.

Constructed from inflated rubber tyre tubes held together with metal rings, Jensz’s choice of materials continues his exploration of mass-produced industrial components. Utilising the rubber’s material qualities of smooth softness, pliability and the implied potential for contraction and expansion in the inflated rubber tubes, the work has a playful quality, while also resembling an arcane piece of manufacturing equipment. Jensz creates a tension between the matt-black softness and pliability of the rubber tubes, and the shiny, hard and inflexible metal rings which contain them, generating a strong sensual element which allows for other metaphoric associations. While the rhythmic repetition of the form creates a strong circular movement, there is also a sense of contained outwards expansion and compressed latent energy. There is a subtle irony in the use of compressed air (the most insubstantial and formless of elements) as the primary structural element which allows the work to stand unsupported, wittily refuting traditional notions of the solidity, mass and weight of sculpture.

Elena Taylor
Curator, Australian Painting and Sculpture
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne