‘throw-sculpture’ n15, May 2020
‘throw-sculpture’ n28, May 2020
‘throw-sculpture’ n21, May 2020
‘throw-sculpture’ n23, May 2020
‘throw-sculpture’ n18, May 2020
I’ve written about this small object collection in a post from August 2020, where I explained that creating ‘components’ which could be put together into bigger ensembles, different arrangements or loosely determined piles used to be one of my main ‘things’. I also referred to not being so keen on ‘deliberate arrangements’ nowadays, and that’s the basic idea behind these ‘throw-sculptures’, so I wanted to expand upon that idea here.
‘Nature isn’t always pretty’ Of course it’s not! So to re-phrase this, and because it’s not only about prettiness but more in this case about things being in the ‘right’ place .. ‘Nature isn’t always the thorough designer we’d like it to be’. For example, a beautifully balanced view of a lake seen through a framing of trees, fringed on the far side with forest and distant mountains beyond that, might have a Giant Hogweed sprouting up in centre view. Although it’s placement there would offend most people’s aesthetic, the Hogweed is probably much more ‘true to nature’ than the rest.
We’ve spent the ‘lifetime’ of our species rearranging nature according to our needs so we’re not only thoroughly conditioned by this approach to nature, it may even be in our genes by now, either way we may not be able to help ourselves. Is ‘love of nature’ or more importantly the respect needed to leave it be, no more than a continually resurfacing crumb of counter-culture?
When I’m teaching model-making and we come as a group to the painting of surfaces, one of the things I most enjoy advising (because it’s most often forgotten) is to include a little ‘mess’. Especially when creating a natural pattern, there’s the tendency to make it too regular. Anything other than an industrially produced pattern will have ‘messed up’ areas or slight distortions which we can easily spot if we scrutinise, but which do not corrupt the overall effect. In fact these aberrations are what makes a surface convincing .. they make it live .. because the eye takes them in as natural even if we are not directly aware of them.
So the arrangements above are just as they fell, and there were certainly ‘rogue’ elements I wanted to tweak but had to leave alone. It’s not just about allowing small disturbances though, it can also include seeing the value of a complete contravention, such as the Hogweed .. dissonance in music, an opposing notion .. except that there weren’t any of these here because of the way I’d shaped the pieces.
‘there’s no such thing as random’ Or again, rather .. there’s no such thing as ‘completely’ random, though some would argue there’s no such thing as anything being random at all. Although I conceived the piece to be dropped as a pile and these featured versions have been left as they landed without any adjustments, I did as I’ve said consciously create forms that were likely to settle in certain ways, to reflect the fact that ‘natural’ is always a combination of two types of occurrence .. those which are already determined by previous actions and those which can’t be. So for example the forms are all straight, and smooth, and of the same basic shape .. they’re aesthetically determined anyway, so however oddly they fall they’ll be united. But in addition their shape determines how they will behave physically. So when I pick them up with both hands to drop them they can’t help but align, like a clutch of pencils. When dropped they slide over each other, one of them can’t balance easily on another, and there’s no way that any of them can land upright. After that, or rather after a whole list of other things like that, it’s anybody’s guess exactly how they’ll fall.
‘the artist shouldn’t decide everything’ In prepared ‘statements’ of artistic intention I think I used to put that I was not happy with the ‘Final Word’ presented in a gallery, unchangeable from that point on. I didn’t really think about the notion that each person will ‘change’ what they’re seeing anyway, regardless of what the artist does, according to their own internal version of the world. I didn’t consider either that what many artists do throughout their careers is basically reiterate the same sculpture or the same painting, so none can be construed as a ‘final word’ just the latest inflection of the same one. So Art can’t afford to be as pompous as I once thought it was, and that’s come as a relief .. and a release! However, that remains part of my explanation of why I’m interested in creating things which can be changed; played with; repurposed; individually customised etc.
Is this form of work accepted? This was back in the 1990s, and in Germany, when I first tried these things .. and some people wanted them! But what I wasn’t prepared for was when people said, in honesty, that they’d prefer if I’d make my own arrangement, which they would then leave be! It defeated the object, or some of it .. and I was too, a bit. But so far I haven’t gathered much of an answer to the question. Should we assume that artists have a fuller understanding of their own work than others? Perhaps. Should we assume that artists are somehow better educated, stronger willed, or better at thinking than others? I don’t think so! Does the final artwork represent just one of many ways it could have gone and perhaps not necessarily the best? Hell yes!