Life in a world of block toys

Life in a world of block toys

Form follows function.

A disclaimer: I wanted to write something circular, the perfect essay, a neat weaving of ideas in support of a conclusion: tell them what you’re going to say, say it, tell them what you’ve said. A circular structure should work for a project with tendencies towards self-consumption, but at any place I chose to cut it off fifteen more paragraphs would spring up in its place. I mixed too many metaphors and got some kind of Frankenstein’s monster, an unwieldy thing but one that ultimately just wanted to be understood. Instead I tried taking to pieces again and looking at the parts bit by bit, hoping that something like a coherent whole might be produced by a simpler process of accumulation.

An Acknowledgement.

Ben sends me a text stream of photographs captioned with a single word: residue. There is a shopping trolley full of pine and ply off-cuts and a landscape of more wooden bits the colour of bone swept into piles on a concrete floor. I tell him he is contradicting himself because we’ve just been talking about how the last stream of photographs, a series of rugged columns arranged in an Adelaide studio taped to the dimensions of a gallery in Melbourne, incorporated parts of old works, his and others, swallowed but not consumed. Surely there can be no residue in a process that absorbs and reanimates itself endlessly? I ask, are you acknowledging the impossibility of a lossless system? In response he sends me an emoji picture of a bomb atop a column of doors.

This is how I am accessing what you’re now standing in front of,1 a configuration of objects I never saw, will never see in the flesh. What I’ve seen instead are pixel ghosts and ancestors, sent two and a half hours backwards in time, picked apart in emails and text messages and then dissembled and made anew. I don’t know their textures or true colours. To me, these objects are images, part of a feed. Trying to describe their essence will make a liar of me.

Brancusi

I go to the library in an attempt to interrupt the feed with some actual objects, books. The thick wad of volumes I find on Brancusi are worn smooth like stones with handling and tend to start with poems, earnest flutterings over a man who would use the Sphynx and Pyramids/or the Indian Totem poles of north AmericaIf no other stone were handy2. Here is a man who apparently made shadows into marble; a man concerned with true essences who photographed himself posed in costume as a traveller, a sacristan, a dishwasher, an artist; a man who photographed the raw matter of his studio arranged as elegantly and elementally as a bird in space; a man who described infinity and purity as a modular and repeating system; a man beloved of aphorisms, truths set in pith. In this particular library, Brancusi is sandwiched on the shelves between Louise Bourgeois and Alexander Calder, as though the alphabet itself was arranged to tacitly acknowledge the narrative of modernist form, at least until we are ready to admit new masters. Further down in Dewey Decimals, Alex Potts puts Louise Bourgeois on the front and Brancusi on the back of the ‘The Sculptural Imagination’, still, at the turn of the millennium, in thrall to not only the arbitrary ordering of the alphabet but also mummy/daddy dichotomies.

Definitions

Upright <|ˈəprīt|: adjective

1 vertical; erect: “the posts must be in an upright position”

2 (of a person or their behaviour) strictly honorable or honest: an upright member of the community.

Phallacy.

No entries found: did you mean ‘fallacy’?.

The work of ‘man’ in the age of supernatural reproduction.

The golem is benignly monstrous. It is raw matter animated by its creator’s misuse of a divine power, but once living it does not self-replicate and it does not, like other man-made monsters, desire. The golem is a cul-de-sac, a closed and controllable system that produces monstrousness only by its unintelligent anthropomorphism. It is a human shadow made of stone, a physical manifestation of its master’s hubris often undone by its inability to creatively interpret commands. By contrast, the zombie is a viral phenomena, a form of un-natural and ultimately sterile reproduction that requires an already-living host to colonise, producing excess, unfulfillable desire. Evan Calder Williams3 positions hollywood zombie films of the 1980s and 1990s as coded subversions of an inescapable capitalism bent on mindless over-consumption, a metaphor that has since been adopted by critics of a contemporary but recycled, supposedly market-driven and thus thirsty and hollow abstraction. The canonical zombie lusts for brains – as though the organ might by digestive absorption satiate their metaphorical thirst for intellectual content and critical discernment – the price of zombie-ism is individual agency and the infection is usually irreversible. The golem is a cautionary tale for the individual in the age of enlightenment; the zombie is a signal that the time for caution, for the individual, for enlightenment, might be over.

Form fucks function.

If not for enlightenment, if not for purity, if not for essence, if not for mythic genius, if not sincerely monumental, if not towards progress, if always problematic, if not in all seriousness, if not for voodoo magic nor for monotheism, then why not chainsaws for chisels, why not treated pine for marble, why not a builder as a sculptor, why not a sculptor as a handyman, why not the vessel as a monument, why not a joke for a poem, why not the lossless system, why not fight against heat death, why not the end as the beginning?

- Gemma Weston

1 Or, looking at online or in print, as more frontal views of things in the round, closing the circle.

2 Brancusi, Ernest Walsh, October, 1924.

3‘The dead Rustle, the Earth Shudders’, Contra Mundum I-VII, 2010, Olso editions, ed. Alex Klien and Mark Owens.