Breaking a Thing

At the beginning of this semester, I was instructed to find new qualities, (week after week), hidden within a roll of twine. At certain moments the process of repeatedly achieving new insight was thoroughly opaque. My mind wanted to believe there were no other possible ways to see this object. I wanted to stop looking. In some ways it reminded me of learning academic painting. As you look into the shadow turning over the form of a persons face and then mix and apply color, it is not uncommon to miss…to get it wrong. You can get it wrong for years before you gain stride and feel confidence. It is tedious and exhausting. The only thing which keeps you going is a love of the thing.

Thankfully, the demands of exploring form are different from painting. In form studio I was not confined to translating reality with the type fidelity required in painting. Somehow, it was more about finding as many ways to break a thing as possible. By “breaking” I mean that both physically and semiotically. It is simple to destroy twine physically by tearing it, disassembling it, burning it, etc.. The products from that type of breaking can be visually intriguing but are mostly predictable. Yet, if you begin to imagine attacking its semiotics you open a seemingly endless pathway.

For example twine is soft and remarkably malleable. Breaking the idea of malleability is a new entry to unexpected discoveries, because really I never think this way. Twine has many more semiotic qualities to depart from than it does physical. It is fractal, frayed, load bearing, asymmetrically durable, varied in color, contaminated (with bits of sand from somewhere), course, multi-purposeful, inanimate, flammable, wicking, etc., etc.. Each of these qualities are things to push against.

They pose new questions to explore. Can I make twine ridged? Can it be made non-load bearing? Can it be made pure, inflammable, fine? What is the opposite of fractal? Can it be made into that? Follow these ideas and you will certainly find new, sometimes compelling understanding of a form. I think this class can be called great. I don’t mean that lightly. I will be referencing what I learned in this class for the rest of my creative life.

Bravo, Martin Venesky for synthesizing your hard won insights into this curriculum and bravo to Scott Thorpe for instructing it well.

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