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Monday, September 24, 2018

Even Strange For Me

I admit my work (especially sculpture) is unusual. A lot of what I do is surrealist in nature. So when I create something that seems bizarre even to my standards, then its saying a lot. 

The original intent of this piece was to use the film projector to create something akin to an archaeological dig. Building up the clay work around the projector to give the impression it had been dug out of the ground. 

But as I proceeded with the piece something just wasn't sitting right. Other artists will understand this nagging feeling that persists when a piece of art is not going the direction its meant to go. 

I let the project lag for a few weeks, just hoping I'd come to some kind of resolution on it. In fact I was so discouraged over it that I took down a tutorial I'd been posting as the piece was developed. None of it felt right. 

Then one night just before sleep, I thought I might have a clue as to what was bothering me about it. It was the concept itself. The idea of taking modern electronics and recasting them to look like ancient archaeological objects was the problem. The concept had already been explored. While I could not pinpoint the artist or artists who had explored a similar idea, I suddenly knew with a certainty that it had been done before. 

Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with re-exploring art ideas. But in this case I was not contributing anything new to the concept. I was just rehashing ideas already explored. As an experimental artist, this is anathema to me. I contribute to an idea if I can through exploration add something new to the idea. 

In subsequent days I found numerous examples of the base concept to confirm my suspicions. 

Then a small kitten stepped into the equation. 

In the middle of the night Phineas the kitten decided he was going to go on a 3am rampage, knocking over a sculpture from my Angels & Demons Series which was peacefully sitting on a shelf in our living room. With a crash the sculpture shattered on the wooden floor. 

Awoken with a start, I grumpily picked up the pieces and tossed them on one of my studio work tables and went back to bed. It wasn't for several days that I even noticed that the pieces were laying next to the projector sculpture. 

It was one of those "I wonder..." moments. The face on the sculpture had shattered cleanly. The skull on the top of it had broken off and the base had broken off, but the face, for the most part was still whole. "This won't work" I muttered but I picked it up and began like a puzzle piece to play with it in different positions on the projector. After a few moments I realized it fit in exactly one angle, but that was angle was perfect. There was symmetry, there was a color match to the paint I'd already used on the projector and there was suddenly a new and surreal sculpture looking back at me. 

Then I knew what had been missing to the original design. There was a level of surrealism to the piece that had not been complete until that face was added. 

I attacked the sculpture with a new enthusiasm. I added the face and blended it in to make sure it looked like it was natural to the whole piece. The whole thing taught me some new lessons and reinforced some old ones. 

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! If something doesn't feel right, flow with it. Don't force it or try to make it into something it isn't. 

COINCIDENCE IS RARELY THAT! If Phineas had not broken the first sculpture, odds are it would have taken me a lot longer to realize what was wrong. 

THE STRANGER THE BETTER! Strange is a lot more interesting. The piece was "odd" but it had not achieved that level of strangeness that was neccesary to make it stand out. 

YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ARTIST! Other have and will explore the same ground as you. What makes yours different is the thing that marks and artist from that of a copycat (Jeff ~cough~ Koons). 

Oh! There is probably one other thing I should mention because it lends to the surrealism. The Film Projector still works. It can be plugged in and turned on and there is even a movie reel on it. While I have no expectations that the machine will continue to work indefinitely, its a mind fuck when it goes on. Now THAT is Surrealism! 


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