The Iris Key

The Iris-Key

The Iris-Key is the 6th work examining Fritz Kahn’s output. 

At the forefront of Kahn’s outlook, was the intention of creating an iconography of the body – the universal body. This was a concept that Kahn first explored in “The Iris Key” (1929) and came back to the fore at the onset of the Second World War.

Behind this image lies, Roman Rechn – a committed modernist and, was Kahn’s most brilliant visual synopsizer. In “The Iris-Key”, Rechn takes the iris and manifests it into a synopsis. In the image, an eye, stocked with a mishmash of detached body parts, represents the iridological method, which is to read the iris as a diagnostic map of the entire body. Changes that appear in specific locations in the iris reveal the presence of disease in distant parts of the body. However, a closer look at Rechn’s design reveals something else: the eye, and the body fragments collected within it, appear to be spinning, like a roulette wheel. Rechn designed the image of the eye to stand as the “period eye” of modernity and used his assignment as an opportunity to conflate our view of the eye with the eye’s view of us. The viewer is asked to see the body world as a disorienting jumble of proliferating, recombinant body parts rotating around a central axis: the eye.  This somehow synopsises our experience of embodied life in the present moment. 

The Iris-Key, while perhaps less literal and more enigmatic than the pieces before it,  aims to digest the bewildering content of the image bearing the same name, its content, and its meaning through the medium of acousmatic sound. It acts as a poignant reminder of the utopian times we currently find ourselves in, and the everlasting hope that we will, one day, return to some sense of normality.