My Major artwork for this project has been largely inspired by the works of Sarah Sze and Kuuki’s ‘e Menure superba’ discussed in our workshop. Both these artists explored the notion of materialism and dealing with essence. The notion of objects and materials having a physical identity independent of human perception, and a separate definition when combined into another form.
In my work, I wanted to investigate this nature of deducing materials function and purpose, by disassembling objects to their elements and repurposing them to match a new identity. The objects create meaning in how they are formed, and so my work revolved around finding old, redundant technologies that’s parts are only going to waste, and creating a new role for them. I decided this role would be forming as animals, when I was inspired by other found artists exploring a similar genre.
James Corbett and Sue Beatrice are two artists who specialise in creating animal-like sculptures out of found objects. James Corbett primarily works with old car parts, and Sue Beatrice’s series of All Natural Art utilises old watch parts and recycles them into animals and other miniature sculptures.
(Kangaroo, Squirrel, James Corbett) (Rabbit, 2013, Sue Beatrice)
So far, I have crafted two similar sculptures inspired by Corbett and Beatrices’ works, and the idealism of Sarah Sze’s works, a swan and a rabbit.
Beatrice and Corbett’s body of works both focus of recycling old technologies, giving them a new life and purpose as aesthetically pleasing sculptures, and I set about in a similar fashion. I began by recruiting all the redundant technology I had at my disposal laying around the house, as well as other ‘trinkets’ that might prove useful down the line. This included two retired digital cameras, a metronome, old jewellery, a laptop, a small TV set, clocks, portable speaker, and crushed pennies. I went about collecting all these items with a very broad outlook, hoping to build up a solid collection to pick and choose from as I could envision their uses in making these critters.
I ended up with a lot more parts than I have so far used, including many screws, metal framing, electrical boards, gears and sprockets, batteries and metal and plastic framing. The metronome had surprisingly very interesting components that inspired me creating the swan, when I pulled out its central frame that resembled the structure of a swan’s body.
The first part of my task was to disassemble the source materials to their individual parts. Once I did so, I placed them all into one central container, and so the exact origin of most pieces cannot be traced. I did this partly by accident, but I feel will also add to the wonderment and curiosity of it as I make each piece, but also in response to the end results. Some parts are fairly obvious to pinpoint what their prior use was and where they came from, but I want my project to shatter this understanding of what their purpose used to be, to focus on what it is now.
I would analyse each individual piece and creatively engage with it as I tried to envision how I could use it and what for, how these pieces could form an animal. The process of creating each critter is very much trial and error, trying to figure out what goes with what to create something else. Once I had a general idea of what I wanted to create, I set about gluing them together. I found that once I started putting things together, it became much easier to visualise the end result and what parts I needed to reach that.
I was very pleased with the end result of my first creation, the swan, as it seemed to best capture my goal when I began this project. It is not blatantly obvious what it is, or what it is made of, and triggers you to examine it deeper. The rabbit I consider to stick more towards my hypothesis of recycling the redundant technology and creating its new identity. I stuck with more technological materials for this one aside from the crushed pennies that I used in both. Overall, I count my first two iterations as successes, as I was unsure how they would turn out when comparing them to Corbett and Beatrice, or how they would go presented visually.
The main problems I have run into so far is finding the most soluble materials to use in creating an animal. Though I’ve gathered a lot of parts and pieces so far, only a small percentage of them are useable, and I have run out of old technology I can take apart. To have all the considerations and options I need to find the pieces that could be used, I’ll need a lot more materials to continue making the critters. This also came down to the large demand for creativity and imagination in my endeavour- a process just as exhausting as physically taking apart each item and creating the critters. I was left struggling towards the end of creating the second critter and running out of motivation, as it was liken to trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle without the completed image to guide you.
Another issue I came across was the fragility of the pieces. Originally, I wanted my work to be presented as a hands on, interactive installation where responders could actually pick up and examine each animal. It became apparent that they were far too delicate for this to be viable, and would only result in them becoming damaged.
Improvements & Alterations
The best alterations I can make to improve my project as I move forward is to find more resources to appropriate materials from, as some have suggested perhaps visiting op-shops and salvage yards. The struggle has been to match my conception with the practicality of the project. I wanted to focus primarily on redundant, old and worn out technologies no longer a part of our day-to-day lives and give them a new purpose. However it is hard to come across these types of technologies anymore as many have already been discarded.
A more practical improvement I must also make is employing more durable tools for my disassembly and assembly. I have worn out many miniature screwdrivers taking apart the source materials and evidently a stronger glue is needed to bind the critters together; if I intend to move forward with this as an interactive piece.