Friday, July 17, 2009

where we are going

"Leaning back against the soft stem of the mushroom, I could observe the pearl plant in it's entirety. Atop it's wide base sat a pale peach pearl-like structure measuring nearly three meters in diameter."
- from The Adventures of Dr. Bard


The pendant shown above is an attempt to create an item with multiple 'scales' made in a way that no single element immediately draws the viewer's eye. This is usually not the objective with wearable art, nor with jewelry in general. In most cases the entire point of an item is to showcase a geometric shape, or a single element, such as a cut gemstone, in the most appealing way possible.

The idea was derived from the way nature presents itself to the observer. For example, a decaying log on a damp forest floor. Viewing the log from a distance, most of what is going on within, and on the log, is not instantly registered by the observer. At first, there is just a natural 'completeness' in what we observe. Examining the shape of the log, you can usually ascertain what the log looked like before it began to decay, and can imagine it in a larger setting, or scale, as part of a tree - the tree part of a forest. Looking closer at the log, you will notice moss and fungus growing at one or more scales. Looking even closer, there may be an entire village of insects housing in, and feeding off of one single piece of fungus. Another scaled reality. Backing away from the log, each of the scales and elements disappear to create a single 'whole' again. Backing further away, the log disappears into an even larger whole.

I have always been amazed at how early sci-fi writers could create mystical worlds by altering the scale of natural elements- Giant ants. Micro-worlds in the center of our own. Giant squishy creatures running amok 10,000 leagues under the sea.

How to represent these concepts in a piece of jewelry. Furthermore, would it be wearable? Not to mention marketable. OK, do your best to make it wearable, and hang the whole 'marketable' thing.

I began with a cross-sectioned slice of a nutshell. Butternut, I believe. The shell would be the 'base' scale of the piece. I then made a mini-environment within the shell, each component complete in itself, but being careful to avoid any single element taking center stage. I added vines on a different scale than the interior components. The vines do not obey the confines of the interior space, as the elements of decay on a log do not follow the rules of a log still alive. The vines pour out of the interior, travel at will around the exterior, and are used as the bail that holds the piece to a necklace. I then added shelf fungus to the outside at yet another scale.

All the while the piece began to take on a Jules-Verne-esque quality. I then created a snippet of a fictional story where the interior elements of the piece would tower over the character in the story. The reader must then shift their perspective- Instead of thinking of the piece as a tiny item being held and observed in the palm of one's hand, one now thinks of the piece as an unnaturally large landscape. A landscape where the discoverer in the story struggles to find footing and handholds on the giant, gooey outer shelf fungus, eventually climbing into an alien world. A world where the discoverer must adjust to a new scale of reality. A world where the discoverer becomes the oddity among what he perceives as giants.

Many future works will draw heavily on the lessons learned from this study. Instead of attempting to showcase any given element - be it the shape, design, stone or surface texture, the focus will be on integrating the elements until the overall volume of the piece is only a whisper - a subtle study of the mundane.

1 comment:

  1. I love these stories behind your works. So intriguing! What a great artistic mind---nice piece. I hope the depth of this is not lost on people!