Notes and Words:
The fate of the utilitarian:
The objects we hold by hand used to be made by hand. Now the hand of the maker is replaced by the components of the machine. Go back to the last time you spent some good coin at a restaurant. All ingredients were prepared by hand not processed by a machine. A meal is meticulously placed together and arranged by a chef. However, the objects of containment are made from machines. The plate you eat off of to the glass you drink from fit into this mold.
There is a disconnect here. Fine dining is a foodie experience. Yes, there are companies out there making stemware for the enjoyment of meals as there are specific wines to go with specific foods, and therefore specific glasses. Riedel has made some through machine and some through the process of the craftsman. However, in the day-to-day shuffle these crafted objects are stored on a shelf collecting dust in a home, waiting to be used for an occasion. A few restaurants do use such wares, but they are few and far between. The experience is about what you plunge into your mouth not the vehicles that aid in this consumption. What has happened to these vehicles that used to be prepared by hand?
Can a cup be rendered differently? It’s memory as a handmade object; it’s memory as a partaker in an event, a meal, a drink, a conversation amongst people, a conversation amongst objects. The memory is the reflection of who we are and what we left behind. It is the residual. In shifting the utilitarian to the sculptural a bowl and foot can become a lens. From a use of taste to the use of sight it becomes a sensual transition. How would these objects judge their former selves? Does the inspiration become a determination to drift further away from their ancestral past? The objects are made by hand and they are different because of this and they are similar because of this. I have made some glass – glasses so that one can have a conversation on just glass – glasses. They reflect into themselves to reflect upon themselves. The mirror acts as a liquid, a trace of their possible utilitarian function.
The objects or glasses consist of the same personifiable parts as their utilitarian counterparts. They have a lip for a mouth, a body to hold and foot to stand on. However, in this transitional shift they become objects for a conversation. They are a curious case of contextual containment. The glasses nestled on themselves – a simple sculpture that implies the last swig of a beverage. Nestled upon the lip of each pair their reflection can be seen. They are a remnant and a memory of their former selves. A frozen moment is depicted in a material that is a frozen liquid. Suspended animation
Cups are bent and show the last signs of their utilitarian upbringing. Like watchers, three stand as if to judge their fate. However, they too are of the same stuff, the same parts. Only their function, their ability to act as a container of a liquid for a functional means is shifted, the bowl on edge. The back of the bowl becomes a lens, a peephole into a new altered state. A sculpture with a nod to its past and a focus to a new. The fate of the utilitarian lies in the hands of the maker. He/She decides which direction an object will go. However, the owner will ultimately decide if it has a place on their table as a utilitarian object or is to be rendered in a new light on a shelf destined to dust, but changed from its origins.
A shift of glasses is a shift of words.
The utilitarian often yields the (un)utilitarian. It precedes it by giving it a place for contemplation on where a maker can take it next. A muse if you will. Glasses made by hand are seen as more precious as being more valued. They are used for that special occasion or not at all. Glasses stand on a shelf as objects of desire or a memory long since passed. Their function has shifted and yet it is the same. Objects of desire are ultimately utilitarian yet rendered (un).
Texts that influenced and aided piece and writing:
Caille, Alain Anti-utilitarianism, economics and the gift paradigm
Stafford, Barbara Maria Good Looking Essays on the Virtue of Images
The MIT Press, Cambridge Mass 1996
Baudrillard, Jean The System of Objects (New York: Verso, 2005)
Judd, Donald Specific Objects
Berger, John Ways of Seeing
BBC and Penguin Books, London 1972
Gablik, Suzi Magritte
Thames and Hudson, NY 1998 reprint
Mcelheny, Josiah a Prism skira Rizzoli New York 2010