conversations public and private

posted in: Blog, Collaboration, Writings | 0

here is how i gloss your response [see posts by sonya blesofsky and jack rees below] as a series of questions: 1) what gives our art-making logic? 2) what makes one’s own work consistently engaging? 3)what is it that makes jury-rigged forms so compelling? initially, number three engages my attention, maybe because the logic of a response in (and to) pictures is so undefined (read: open ended).

i agree: that which is cobbled together smartly, is often oddly compelling. My shorthand for this is kluge: the quick fix, the temporary solution constructed from material at hand that ends up “working.” what i find compelling about a good kluge is the way it marries things that in other, more considered, frames would not be part of the same solution—elegance and awkwardness, form and idea, necessity and impermanence.

one example might be drawn from the etymology of jury-rigged: a temporary mast erected on a ship when the permanent mast is no longer functional (WordOrigins.org). in this situation the revised object must function under great stress yet all involved understand it to be only as functional as needs be—life saving necessity meets just good enough.

form and idea are, of course, often married in art yet in a kluge, allow for what might be called category shifting which is a singular mark of distinction. the picture you selected of the water bottles hanging from the seat rack of a motor bike is a case in point. in that circumstance, hanging the bottles from their tops is a satisfying kluge, unexpected but just “right.” one admires the solution because the idea is good, novel, and ad hoc while the form is pleasing.

so as not to beat a dead horse, i would make an analogous argument argument for elegance and awkwardness yet; to my mind, these deserve special consideration. our visual world is so cluttered with crafted yet meaningless objects that one is tempted to depend on a lack of craft (or even the semblance of a lack of sophisticating in making) as a way to call attention to the handmade object. the implicit claim is: this work means something simply because it is not “polished.” sadly, the implication does not hold up to scrutiny. not polished is not polished and significance, though inexorably tied to form, is not automatically present by virtue of an object being hand-made.

in this context, i wonder at your seeming pride in removing alchemy from the mix. why is it that magic and transparency are contradictory? seems to me the trick is to present in the objects we make, a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts—just like a good kluge.