Here's a photo of some of my "artistic" creations - at least those that
survived several horrendous relocations over the past 40 years. The earliest
works date back to the 1960s - can you tell which? - while the latest originated
in the 1990s, when I reluctantly gave up this pastime (having run out of
space to display my efforts). From left to right across the top are "Jupiter
and Io" (after Correggio), "Moonrise" (collage landscape), and "Theoretician"
(acrylic on canvas). The next row of five hangings contains "Glass Sarcophagus
for Robot Hero," "ADC-R20," "Are Artists 'Insane'?," "Jupiter," and "Braquish
Things." Finally, the bottom row has "Eternal Internal Mobile," "ObObOb
(Obdurate Obfuscating Obscurator)," "Vibrator," and "National Park" (political
commentary) all on the shelf and "Collections (First Draft)" again hanging
on the wall. Now for a few words about some of the more representative
The work on the right really has no name. Its title "Are Artist's 'Insane'?"
comes after the headline from a newspaper clipping contained within the
box in the upper right (sorry for the glare). The 3-dimensional collage
represents a kind of shrine consisting of small found objects rich in associations
of diverse kinds. You could say that it reflects the influence of
Joseph Cornell - except that I discovered that artist's remarkable "boxes"
after I began conceiving my own. Otherwise I'd call this an "homage to
Cornell." In any case, the creation would prove that artists are indeed
insane if and only if it can be classified as a work of art. If not, then
an artist didn't create it, and therefore the work's insanity proves nothing.
The piece on the left is somewhat in the same vein, but again appearing
before I first learned of Cornell's work. It, too, consists of miscellaneous
items that appear to have only one thing in common - they represent interesting,
even fascinating shapes (to me, at least). The name "Braquish Things" partly
echoes the character of the objects that define the upper and lower boundaries.
Yet the title also refers to one of my favorite artists - for reasons more
autistic than artistic.
I lied. The framed work on the right is a work-in-progress, albeit I believe
that it may be finished. I've been adding tidbits from time to time over
the past decade. That's why it's called "Collections (First Draft)." When
I'm sure that the creative synthesis of mix-and-match is complete, the
work's name will change to "... (Last Draft)." By the way, it's actually
very three dimensional - with cones, hemispheres, and other curious shapes
- a feature that doesn't come out in the photo. As a consequence, it changes
appearance as you walk by it. In addition, various parts of the sculpture
catch the light differentially - as revealed here by the hot action of
the reflector strip from an old bicycle.
On the left is another shrine-like composition that gets its title - "Jupiter"
- from the box that inspired the work in the first place. The box contained
a watch called by that name. So in 1979 I assembled a little figure of
the great Greek god Zeus with all due religious paraphernalia. No, I'm
not a pagan, nor do I make burnt offerings before this deity each morning.
It just makes me happy.
Another example of one of my smaller creations is seen to the right. This
is the famed "ObObOb," a.k.a. the "Obdurate Obfuscating Obscurator." Actually,
this may count more as an invention than a sculpture. It's a precision
instrument, as you can tell by looking at the highly-crafted components
arrayed in the special carrying case. Using the latest advances in String
Theory and Plate Tectonics, this contraption has been scientifically designed
to take any idea that is satisfies the Cartesian touchstone of being "clear
and distinct" and then transmogrifies it, by a series of transformational
permutations and substitutions, into totally unintelligible but more profound
sounding garbage. The instrument is very much in demand among certain of
my colleagues in academe. A few couldn't have gotten tenure without it.
For the finale, here's the "Eternal Internal Mobile" - along with the "Glass
Sarcophagus for Robot Hero" on the upper left and "ADC-R20" on the upper
right. The central artwork doesn't photograph very well. Besides
having its own light, and a pane of glass in the front, it has a broken
mirror in the back, yielding all sorts of reflections (including the cinematically
commonplace "camera-crew goof"). Inside is the Deanesque assortment of
random objects along with an actual mobile powered by old analogue electric
clock innards (observable at the top of the box). Watching its movement
is mesermizing. Definitely one of my absolute favorite works. You have
to experience it to believe (in) it.
Has this "art"ever been publically
exhibited? Just once: in 1981 at the annual convention of the American
Psychological Association in Los Angeles, at a poster session on "The Art
of Psychologists." My "poster" had to be presented horizontally rather
than vertically, unlike everybody else's - convincing everyone that I'm
more psycho than psychologist. So my collection disappeared into the dark,
quiet recesses of my study, never to be revealed again until a quarter
century later. Aren't you lucky!
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