Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gears and Frank Gehry's

Sonia had been out on her own for a couple of years. My place had changed substantially in her absence but, as is so often a blessing and the case, the chick returns to the nest. Sonia was moving back home. One of the first things that crossed my mind was, where will I put all of her stuff. Every available cubic inch was already occupied with either an object or allocated to a  purpose. The answer presented it's self in the middle of my living room. The old purple, peanut shaped, polka doted Coffee table had to go. The space it occupied would now be re-purposed as prime storage area, a relative gold standard, rare and precious in the East Village of NYC. More than a purple, peanut, I needed a 5' long foot locker with a hinged top. It couldn't just be a boring box. It would have to be interesting. There had to be a kink to it. I also wanted  the box to appear longer than it actually would be by forcing it's perspective thus necessitating that the furthest end of the top would have to be narrower. The design gauntlet had been dropped.                                                                    

My brother in law had constructed an intriguingly dramatic coffee table out of an assortment of unrelated gears and odd machine parts that he had stoutly welded together. By all standards of known masculine measure, it was a very heavy, rustic, man table. Some what less than enormously practical and certainly not conceived with the hope of conserving space or being filled with a young woman's clothing but, I liked it a lot. I wanted some of that table's atmospheric elements and, spirit but, I wanted something a bit more urbane, a top design that echoed a message about the city, a sublimated skyline fantasy of sorts. Frank Gehry sprang to mind. NYC. is lucky enough to have 2 of his incredible buildings now. One is as outrageous and out side of the box as the other. I thought, what would a whole skyline of Frank Gehry's look like? I envisioned a great expanse of shimmering, billowing, irrational, titanium ribbons rising like blades of grass, bending in the breezes. Gears returned to my mind as an allegory for the city's inner workings, a megalopolis machination of whirring clock mechanisms and meshing cogs seen through the metallic, twisting sheets as if they were made of glass. As I combined these elements, I began to realize a similarity between the overall effect of the composition and the modernist cubism of Francis Picabia. I also recognized that the image was developing a kind of rhythmic, kinetic kinship to Marchel  Duchamp's more painterly efforts. The project began as a coffee table but, in actuality, it was now as much about designing an elaborate mural as it was about finding another 10 or so additional cubic feet of storage.

As coincidence would have it, I found a great shot of one of Damien Hirst's giant polka dot paintings
and, as my new image was intended to replace what had once been polka dotted, I placed a cropped version of my composition over his and, for the first time had the pleasure of seeing the image fill a heroic viewing field and work with in a large gallery or museum context.

If you've ever been to a freak show in a traveling carnival, you may have seen the Torso Girl. The poor and woefully truncated creature is usually perched on top of a table in a room which has straw strewn about the floor as it would be in an animals cage. She seems to be missing her body from her belly button on down. In truth, she's a perfectly whole girl, sitting on a chair inside of a mirrored box that is reflecting the straw on the floor. The upper portions of her body poke up though a hole in the middle of the top of the box which is not mirrored. As such, she seems to sit on a spindle legged table with no lower body beneath her. The spindle legs have a 45 degree wedge cut from their length so that they may fit perfectly over the corners of the mirrored box, hiding not only the edges of the mirrors but, also reflecting the spindles as if they were still whole. The sharp contrast between the crispness of the reflected table legs and the haphazard textures reflected by the straw work together in superb unison and further fool the eye. At first glance, it's a convincing illusion. In the spirit of freak show Tom foolery, I employed mirrors to reflect the carpet in the hope that the rest of the table would be visually mitigated and create the illusion of a floating top while hiding a hundred pounds of my daughter's clothing beneath it.

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