Takis «Signals» 1954 -
In 1955 influenced by the invention of the radar and the technological landscape of the station of Calais, Takis constructs his first Signal sculpture.
Takis' Signals are his most renowned trademark. They are an ongoing series of tall rods springing from a base on the ground and tapering towards a finial at the top. Generally speaking, these finials are of particular symbolic significance and consist of either sculptures or found-objects. The sculptures are various elements, whose form and shape evoke primordial symbols. In response to their interpretation, Takis said: «I am responsible only for manufacturing the symbols. Their meaning depends for interpretation on each and every one of us.»
With regard to the found-objects in particular, they are either machine parts, i.e. batteries, carburators, radiators, ventilators, or parts of war-time equipment, i.e. bombs, guns, bayonets, that Takis transforms according to his needs. Speaking about these found objects, Héléna and Nicolas Calas remark that «Takis cannot identify the hardware nor does he seek to, for the pieces were merely required to serve as anchors appropriate to the composition.» Takis' signals are wonderfully ambiguous; somewhere between organic reminiscent of botanical stems and artificial reminiscent of labarums used at war.
In actual fact, Takis' signals are either discarded street and railroad signs from municipal depots, antennae from discarded war-time vehicles. As Héléna and Nicolas Calas observe "Takis found an alternative to the utilitarian use of safety signals." In Calais early in the 1960s Takis writes «The station was a huge feral center, a forest of signals. Monster-eyes went on and off, rail, tunnels, a jungle of iron… I drew all those phenomena… man constructs for his own use tunnels and exits, symbols for his evasion of death… For a long time now my Signals had been transformed into rockets, antennae and radio receivers.»
Some years later he recorded «A frequent traveller by plane, I was always enchanted by aerodromes and their great radars… It is as if they were monster instruments recording cosmic events… My last Signals took the form of electric antennae, like lightning conductors. But they still remained symbolical, they constituted a modern hieroglyphic language which had to be translated to be understood. Radar was a great active signal.»
Signaux Lumineux, Arche de la Defence, Paris.
Thinking about Takis' entire production of signals, there is an entire forest of them - differing from one another in terms of height and form - and they all vary on the theme of energy emission and code transmission. The unique character of each signal is fundamentally due to the randomness in timing and/or orientation. This feature makes every signal stand on its own. It is worth noting that Takis creates 'other' signals, which transmit messages of an existential value, at a peculiar frequency, and of cosmological significance. Such signals function on an emotive plane than on an instrumental level. And they are as much there to stand on their own - independently of humanity - as they are there to salvage the cosmos.