- Kaleid [kəˈlīd] is the Ancient Greek word for beauty.
This piece was created after a particularly inspiring lecture lead by Mike Tucker about Modernism. He quoted Kazimir Malevich as saying:
"Anything not in itself beautiful, but recognised on an artistic plane is beautiful"
I am not sure if the quote was from Malevich himself, or if it was an interpretation made by the lecturer, but the words really resonated with me. I wondered if it was true that when anything is incorporated into some artistic context, does this make it automatically beautiful?
We had also recently read Carolyn Korsmeyer's essay on taste. This material helped to set the tone for a piece of work aimed to evoke something personal and even idiosyncratic. Beauty being something that is linked so tightly with human experience, and has continually inspired artists throughout history.
In the same lecture as the Malevich quote, I was introduced to the ideas of Antoni Tapies. Tapies apparently believed that if you remove an object from it'd function, any value that it has is lost, and the object them becomes invaluable.
I was then drawn to 'The Origin of the Work of Art' by Martin Heidegger. In this essay, Heidegger explains the essence of art in terms of the concepts of being and time. Artworks, Heidegger believes, are things. a definition that raises the question of the meaning of a "thing".
So with these topics in mind, we began work in the piece, we knew we wanted to release the function of an object and display it as art, to investigate Malevich's and Tapies' theories. We went into a junk shop in town to find our object, and decided on a music box. we then dismantled it and therefore relieved it of it's function - it was no longer a music box. We took all the pieces and displayed them as above; static but with the suggestion of motion, reminiscent of the work of Cornelia Parker in that sense and its ability to retain a sense of delicacy. Some of the individual pieces of the mechanics were so beautiful, like a small winged screw that span and the ridged piece of metal that created the notes that the box played. It was nice to be able to appreciate how they looked aside from their purpose.
Before we destroyed the music box we recorded the sound (the function) and decided we would like to present this alongside the dismantled box to elude to the purpose of the object, and hopefully highlight the fact that the function had become disembodied. We played the sound through speakers concealed within a box, then attached to the wall by brackets. On the face of the box (as shown above) the pieces of the box were spread, and that is how the piece was shown to the viewer.
The feedback we received was quite neutral; we surprisingly didn't receive any particularly positive comments for a project that initially excited us both immensely. I think the challenge of creating a collaborative piece really showed though the end result, and the compromises made to please each other definitely weakened the piece.
Although we were equally keen on the idea of removing the function of an object and seeing if it obtained a new beauty when viewed artistically, Freya's ideas and my own began to clash when it came down to presentation. I wanted to display each and every part of the music box in a clean line or grid, making each piece as important as the other and making it easier for the viewer to see, whereas Freya wanted to make more of a pattern out of the pieces, playing on the idea of deconstruction and the word 'Kaleid' (collide), which resulted in her smashing a few panels from the box. We couldn't agree so while I insisted each piece of the music box was displayed so that each piece was transcended into the new function, Freya insisted on laying out the pieces to suggest collision. This is where I feel the piece began to fall down; we were both seeing two different pieces of work.
In our crit an eeriness to the work was picked up on by the group, caused by the creepy music box music we were playing, and the destruction of the box. One member of the group even asked if the piece was about child abuse which was definitely not what we were wanting to portray. Comparisons were made briefly to Cornelia Parker who we had both discussed in the execution of the piece.
The way the work was displayed was also criticised and we realised, upon it being pointed out, that despite our efforts, the presentation (speakers in a box, covered in music box pieces, mounted on a wall) wasn't very clean. I suppose the use of the box with the concealed music was supposed to serve as a catalyst for people to start considering what was subterranean in this piece, what wasn't being put across (which was the loss of function on this music box).
From this project I found that somebody to bounce ideas off with in the earlier stages of a piece of work is invaluable, however, there comes a point where a clear authoritative voice is needed, and I now recognise that this is hard to find in a two person collaboration.