Las piedras del camino

3 jours 20 heures
Centre de Design (DE) UQAM - Galerie du Centre de Design

The installation "Las piedras del camino" is a representation of the landscape walked by Don Quijote in the first part of his journey. We converted literary fragments to rocks by calculating the magnitude of some confusions and mistakes that are narrated in the first part of the novel Don Quijote de la Mancha, written by Miguel de Cervantes. We can now use this rocks to make scultural representations of Don Quijote's landscape through the objectification of his mistakes.

The process

The Spanish version of “stepping twice into the same river” would be "caer dos veces con la misma piedra" (which, literally means “to step twice with the same rock”). In this sentence the word “rock” functions as a sinonym for “mistake” or “error”, so that “to step twice with the same rock” means “to make the same mistake twice”. Considering this, we asked ourselves about the shapes of mistakes. Would it be possible to turn mistakes into visible forms that were recognizable as rocks in a path? To experiment with this, we took the novel Don Quijote de la Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes, in which the main character is a self proclaimed knight (in a way that totally contradicts the law!) and tries to live all the adventures he had read in cavalry novels. In this process he has many confusions and makes a series of mistakes. We think of these confusions and mistakes as descriptions of the difference between expectations and reality. In other words: we know when Don Quijote is making a mistake because the author of the novel tells us what would have been correct.

For example, Cervantes tells us that there are windmills close to the path that Don Quijote and Sancho Panza are following (this would be considered as a correct description of reality or, at least, an expectation of what would reality be) and then the same author explains that Don Quijote is seeing giants instead of windmills and attacks them (this would be considered as a description of the confusion or what Don Quijote did in reality, against all expectations). In this example, the confusion is based on the difference between windmills and giants. At this point, we asked ourselves whether it would be possible to calculate this difference by means of substraction. So we invented a code: each letter of the alphabet would correspond to a number. "A" would correspond to "1", "B" to "2", "C" to "3"... and so on. By having this code, we could convert words into numbers and then substract, for example, "giants" to "windmills", so that we could know the difference between one and the other. First, we would substract "G" (7) to "W" (23). That would be: 23 - 7 = 16. Following this logic, the difference between "windmills" and "giants" would be the series of numbers: 16, 0, 13, 10, 7, 10, 0, 0, 0.
We then selected 10 mistakes or confusions that characterize the first part of Don Quijote's journey and calculated all the substractions. We got 10 different series of numbers. Their longitudes depended on the longitude of the textual description of the mistake or confusion.

Then, we used these series of numbers to design shapes. How did we do that? We considered the sphere as a perfect shape because the distance between its center and all its ends is always the same. So we used the series of numbers that we got from substracting expectations to reality to determinate the very different distances from a point, which would be the center, to diverse ends (depending on the longitude of the series). We called these shapes "rocks" and each of these corresponds to a Don Quijote's mistake or confusion, as if these had been translated or converted to rocks with which the spanish knight stepped.

University of Vic
PhD student

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