Roberto Cambi, The Oracle


There is something deeply flawed yet inherently human about the struggle to keep pace with technologies developed to enhance lives. People are eagerly and enthusiastically over connected. The sheer amount of words and images might give the illusion of barriers being breached and distances shortened, but it’s the struggle to process the constant stream of information that shapes our days. The fast pace does not embolden us, rather leaves us feeling inadequate. The heartache of the future is the doubt of the past: people scamper, but do not move on. The same old worries about love, health, friends and family are undermining this false progress, searching for answers to questions that a bloated and superficial knowledge has failed to address.

Drawing inspiration from ancient Greece, the Oracle is possibly an homage to Dodona or the Pythia at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. It relies on the willing suspension of disbelief and poetic faith of a viewer hoping to quash any uncertainty about the future.

First exhibited on the island of San Servolo in the Venetian Lagoon, the installation comprises a number of suspended sculptures – the Oracle – together with a set of wheels and a platform. The latter is connected to the arms of the Oracle with copper wires, so that any time a spectator stands on it, a connection of sorts is made to this sage. The wheels are inscribed with a list of possible questions and answers and can be spun to obtain the Oracle’s response to any query. Their movement mimics the randomness of life and mirrors what some might call fate.

In the words of the artist, the interaction with the sculpture highlights the easy transit from rationality to faith to superstition, but also the distorted belief that mankind cannot influence or determine its future.

The frame of the installation is 5m high, 2.5m wide and 2.5m deep. The Oracle is 3.5m high, 1m wide and 1m deep. It is formed by a male bust,  approximatively 100 arms and ocular bulbs. The platform is fixed about 2.50m away from the main frame, but it is connected to the main sculpture with copper wiring.

An Introduction to the Oracle An Introduction to the Oracle

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