Shoebox resurrection…

But fist…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: fruity, decasyllabic, premosaic, argumentative, soapy, and snug.
I think ‘decasyllabic’ is my favourite – I must try to slip it into conversation this afternoon.

After recently telling you about my days at art school and describing the making of my ‘Existence Meter‘ I realised that some of the stuff I did back at college wasn’t really that bad after all – I had been a little bit embarrassed by it and had tried to forget it all, and I somehow managed to persuade myself that I’d never actually done such silly things…
I don’t know what happened to the ‘Existence Meter’, it was a pretty useless thing and it probably was thrown out, but one other ‘box-like’ work of mine did survive.
It is about the size and shape of a shoebox, well maybe a shoebox for a very large person’s shoes. It is made from 1/4″ thick aluminium (‘aluminum’ for my US readers) it has rounded corners and is featureless and is stove enamelled glossy white; however it has become rather distressed and scuffed over the years it’s been kicking around the place; it looks like it has been ‘well used’ – that’s a silly phrase, it’s an art work, art works don’t get ‘used’ at all.
Back then in college days it was never quite finished, I wasn’t really sure what it was going to be, perhaps a piece of minimal sculpture, a glowing well-proportioned supine slab of white displayed in some austere posh gallery, in New York perhaps? Fat chance Dave!…
Anyway, after thinking about my ‘Existence Meter’ and reappraising my early work, I decided to do something with the ‘white block’ – yes, to finish this piece of work!
So, what should I do with it? The ‘minimal sculpture’ wouldn’t really work any more as it was looking a bit too tatty, so I considered making it into another version of the ‘Existence Box’, a replacement for the lost one. I bought LED lights and a buzzer for it, but it didn’t really work – modern buzzers are high-pitched, unpleasant, and scream and warble like someone is trying to break into your car; old buzzers sounded ‘warmer’ and actually ‘buzzed’ rather nicely, almost like a box of bees. Also you don’t seem to be able to buy old-style meters with moving needles on them, everything is digital display now.
I decided that the shoebox-shaped thing should now stand on its end, upright like a little white monolith, rather than it looking like a crisply cut slab of ice, or a stylish, very expensive, but knobless, hi-fi amplifier. After a few days of thinking about and experimenting with coloured lights, buzzers, bunches of red and pink plastic roses, loudspeakers, clever knocking devices, etc., and sweating over how it could be transformed into a new, interesting, and stimulating piece of work… nothing occurred to me… and I more or less decided that I should really dump the thing and forget it…
However, lying in bed the following morning, the solution popped into my head, fully formed and complete with title. No lights, buzzers and things – I would just cut out (buy new metal-cutting jigsaw blades!) a jagged hole in the front, like a nicely smashed window, paint the inside matt black, mount it on a stepped black plinth to give an idea of scale, as if it is a model of something ten or more metres high, and glue some triangular shards of metal from the ‘broken window’ scattered on the plinth in front of it… (Just a thought – it might be rather nice if it gave out a low-pitched hum too?) The title would be ‘Black-Body Radiation’ – it always sounds clever to throw in a bit of physics!… (B.B.R.)


About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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