Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Below are some photos of the opening of the Art in Craft Media show at the Burchfield-Penney in Buffalo (which was on September 12th). There are some great shots of people looking at my "Coffee Cup Conveyor Belt Calendar". Overall, the experience of watching people look at my work was extremely gratifying, although I felt like somewhat of a voyeur. I stood off to the side a ways away from it for at least an hour, watching people look at it and point at it, attempting to explain it to each other. They would point to the conveyor belt, and the post-it notes behind the cups, obviously piecing together that each cup represented one day; and then they would point at the broken cup on the floor, figuring out the fate of all the cups/days to come, which then brought their gaze back up to the cup teetering on the end of the belt. Only some people were brave enough to get up close and personal with the clock motor, and peer inside at the working gears to see that yes, it was in fact, moving, although at a rate so slow that it couldn't be perceived. 

A few people stayed and watched for a long time, or returned several times during the night, in hopes to see that teetering cup eventually drop off the edge. Which it did, about 15 minutes prior to the museum's closing. One of the people whom I noticed had kept returning and was quite visually anxious with anticipation, was there when it fell, and she literally screamed and jumped up and down. At that point people cheered, and then everyone started clapping (I even found myself clapping and laughing uncontrollably), and the shattering of that object felt like such an accomplishment. It was one brief moment of surprise and satisfaction, followed quickly by the realization that it would be succeeded by another 24 hours of ungratifying "motionlessness". 

What I realized about this piece that I had not before, was that this "twee" sculpture (as the Buffalo News described it in their review) really inspires people to struggle with their perception. People want more than anything to be able to see it moving, even if that means they have to trick themselves into thinking that they see it. It challenges viewers to gather the clues I've made available, hints about what has already happened and what is going to happen in the future, in order to determine what is happening at the present moment. It doesn't provide enough information for the viewer to "get it" at first glance, it requires some investigation. But it is not too vague as to be confusing, or completely out of a regular person's comprehensible grasp. That is what I deem as success. It works! It actually works! Not just mechanically or conceptually, but communicatively as well. 

(Photos by
Mike Fleming)

1 comment:

McGuff said...

Sadly I've never had the opportunity to see the conveyor belt in person. :(

How slow does it move? How many cups are broken a day?

Success has a lot of s's in it, ey?