Devices – Emil Salto

Devices – Emil Salto

Rummet format]
Opening 12 maj, at 17-20
The exhibition is open May 13 – June 18 2017


How do we make sense of the world? This is a recurring philosophical theme central to the arts. And in many ways at the heart of Danish artist Emil Salto’s work.

In the exhibition DEVICES Emil Salto expands on his ongoing inquiry into the relationship between time, matter and perception. Specifically, Salto investigates the possibility to gain access to a higher dimensional perspective through objects in 2D and 3D; devices that transgress what is seen and what is perceived.

The exhibition takes its point of departure in various media revolving around specific geometrical shapes: The Cube, and The Circle; The Hyper-Cube, and the Hilbert-Curve.

Saltos kinship to Minimalism is readily evident in his austere aesthetics, and the cube thus seems the natural choice, being the minimalist archetype and recalling both the phenomenological concerns of Robert Morris (b. 1931) and the mathematical rationale of Donald Judd (1928 – 1994). As the minimalists, Salto is interested in the presence of the objects. But instead of pure presence, he researches the esoteric qualities of the geometrical shapes.

In this material research he is inspired by the thoughts of the British mathematician and sci-fi-author Charles Howard Hinton (1853 – 1907) as well as Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925), who argued that we would be able to visualize a fourth dimension through intensive labour with geometrical shapes. Salto explores the possibilities and his devices can then be seen as experimental vessels of how such scrutiny could offer us a direct and more intuitive perception of the world.

Charles Howard Hinton suggested, that we could imagine the fourth dimension by discarding any one vantagepoint and instead engage unbiased with the world – and objects in the world – by giving no privilege to orientation, such as up and down, left and right. By accepting the multitude of possible positions vis-a-vis an object we could perceive it in all its fractal realities. Based on this hypothesis, Salto has been working in the darkroom to create a series of photograms of Unfolded Hyper-Cubes, now hanging on the gallery wall.

On the floor the 2D photograms are supplemented by handmade 3D devices of steel, each in the form of a quadrant, i.e. a quarter of a circle or a sphere. The sphere to which each quadrant refers is virtually inscribed in a cube – and in the same motion as we wrap our minds around the return to the basic form, our body interacts with the composition laid out in front of us.

Similar to the way the Cube is a Square of a higher order, so is the Hyper-Cube a Cube of a higher order – the fourth dimensional order being the Tesseract – which is tentatively unfolded in Salto’s photograms. The unfolding itself is roughly guided by the Hilbert-Curve; a space-filler which stands in relation to the Square and – in the three dimensional plane – to the Cube – and again through our mental leap – to the Hyper-Cube.

As we move around the gallery space we inhabit the position of the artist himself. We become intermediaries and participants in Salto’s experiments. The 2D investigations of light and darkness experienced in the darkroom is re-enacted by us on a 3D scale when translated into the sculptural forms in front of us. We inhabit the same investigative space when we are confronted with the dense matter of the steel quadrants. We perceive the materiality through the light and shades on the surfaces and the gradient shadows cast on the floor, by objects which have now transformed into vessels of contemplation.

To engage with Salto’s DEVICES is to witness how the world reveals itself to us; it is to trace the volatile borders between light and darkness, between the transparent and the obscure. To really perceive Salto’s work you will need to be in the room with them, lending yourself to the intermingling of light and shade, to the minimalism of the empirical experience – and to time.

At first glance the DEVICES come across as somewhat prosaic, but it is precisely through their neutral presence as forms of matter that they challenge our mental limitations.

The infinite complexities inherent in Salto’s DEVICES evolve from minimalist notions of presence and translate the exhibited objects into an intricate cosmology.

Even if it is not possible to physically access the fourth dimension, then the expanded contemplation of Salto’s works may help us make a leap of thought – to see through that which is experienced beyond the conscious perception – prompting our neurons to stretch out to the farthest reaches of our mind. To some it may even seem possible to break down the barrier between our physical existence in 3D and the cosmologically infinite. And thus, to make sense of the world is not limited to mere rational thought, but to sense the sheer enormity of being.


Emil Salto (b. 1968) lives and works in Copenhagen, DK. He holds a Master of Fine Art from the Royal Danish Academy, from which he graduated in 2000. He has exhibited in Denmark as well as abroad, e.g. with solo shows at SECCA, USA (2015), MELK in Oslo, NO (2012) and Randers Kunstmuseum, DK (2008). He has also been commissioned to decorate building exteriors and interiors: most recently the Helios Theater in Faaborg, DK (2016) and The Niels Bohr Building, part of the Faculty of Science at The University of Copenhagen, DK (2017).


The exhibition is supported by Fondet for Dansk-Svensk samarbejde, The Danish Arts Foundation and The Danish Art Workshops.