L’OEUF ET L'OEIL (THE EGG & THE EYE) // SOLO SHOW // HOW'S HOWARD? EXHIBITIONS // 2016
L’œuf et L’œil (The Egg and The Eye) describes a growing body of paintings and sculpture that explore perception, perversion, boundaries, and surveillance through the visual and material language of tennis. The following is a guide for viewing a playful new direction by multimedia artist Maria Molteni.
L’œuf is said to be the origin of the english term "love" in tennis because eggs resemble a zero in three dimensions. Players are tied at l’œuf or love at the beginning of a game. The latin alphabet grapheme Œ is playfully referred to as e dans l’o ("e in the o") or o et e collies ("o and e glued") by the French. Other words that employ Œ include cœur ("heart"), sœur ("sister"), œuvre ("work"), and œil ("eye").
In recent years, tennis players who doubt the vision or judgement of a line umpire may turn to a system called "Hawk-eye" to verify a disputed call. A notorious match in the 2004 US Open between Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati, in which Serena lost a match due to a high number of unfair line calls, was a game changer for implementing the system as standard protocol. Hawk-eye technology closely surveils the game of tennis via 6 or 7 cameras positioned to track the trajectory of a moving tennis ball from different angles. The recorded information is then triangulated and combined to create a representation of the ball's contact with the court. Taking ball skid and compression into account, this image never resembles the spherical tennis ball we all know. Instead, the simulated impression favors the contour of an egg.
This direction is inspired by many years of playing competitive sports and the times Molteni watched, in awe, as her mother seamlessly pulled spare tennis balls from under her skirt (not unlike a laying hen). The particular hawk-eye imagery that informs these works were pulled from the Serena vs Venus Williams match that she had the privilege of attending with her mother at the 2015 US Open.