A Brief Note on Indexical Casting

The documentation of “things” can be seen as a visual or linguistic recording of a particular object or situation that has been removed–distanced–from its original context. Connected to the recording (generally) is a name. Naming* situates the document within the context of the familiar. For example door is the name of an object that performs an action(s) (in this instance excluding metaphorical and analogical references). Door has no intrinsic meaning outside its general definition until it is connected to a certain context. When door is attached to a name, place and/or narrative it is then embedded with meaning e.g., front door, back door, church door, prison door, security door, barn door. The visual documentation of door without a reference to context leaves one in want of its story.

The X-ray of door reveals a form, a morphology—an artifactual morphology—defined by material density and structure; the X-ray image detaches door from the signs and symbols that makes door a familiar object embedded with histories; it is un-named. The X-ray can be considered an index of the object door; it is a shadow cast made manifest by radiographic technology; it is a trace, a fragment of door’s complete narrative content.

The index offers a lens in which to distance, or un-fix the artifact from the burdens of its attached symbols allowing the reader access to the actuality of its form. The indexical reading can be seen as a rarefaction of an extant visual or spatial condition requiring the attachment of contemporaneous signs in order to be understood within an alternative context.

Once the object/artifact is radiographically imaged it is suspended between its context of origins and the projection of a new situation, a new context or environment. Door—the X-ray—can be appropriated and re-contextualized while holding within a compressed material and historical totality. Physically casting door re-fixes the object and suggests alternative readings while maintaining morphological—enfolded—connections to the original. Door can be materially and symbolically recast to participate in a new contextual situation; hence, “indexical casting”.

* Refer to On The Name by Jacques Derrida, 1995 Stanford University Press