Saturday 15 August 2009

Intimate Installations

Functional Art is the most intimate of installation art. Like a great deal of installation art it requires the active participation of the viewer/experiencer in order to become complete. It is a conversation between the maker, the server, and the consumer. It requires the input of those users to continue the conversation, to communicate an idea about the nature of experiential existence and to draw a response from the participant. By so doing it creates an micro environment enclosed with the participants hands, touched to their lips, affecting all of their senses and thus altering their perception of themselves in their greater environment. Architecture addresses the external environment which surrounds the participant, but functional art addresses the point of flux between the external and the internal. The perceptions of the maker made concrete in the form of the vessel affect the perception of the user in relation to the contents of the vessel. The users choice of vessel is a decision, conscious or not, about how the user wishes to interact with the world.

As a potter, I am making statements in clay about my perceptions of the world around me and my opinions and feelings concerning those perceptions. This is true of any artist, but in ceramics this evidence is in a virtually permanent form. The statements made by Jomon potters 10,000 years ago, by Greek potters 3,000 years ago, by Chinese potters 1500 years ago, are still as relevant to the human condition as the art of today. They are part of a living conversation that spans the whole of human history and transcends cultural and historic boundaries. It is the task of the modern potter to make statements that are equally relevant to the human condition, a condition common to all humans and with which all humans can identify. A regurgitation of the past adds nothing to our cultural heritage. Esoteric works which ignore the cumulative understanding which we have inherited from 400 generations of artists, or discard "Tradition" out of hand in homage of contemporary artistic fashion; which are alien to everyday human experience and inaccessible to common life are like the graffiti of the illiterate on the annals of human society. Our task is to add our experience, our voice, to this global history spanning conversation and thus join in the evolution of art and our understanding of ourselves in our environment.

That is why I am a potter and make functional pots. They are the most intimate of all installation art.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely agree. When I was a student and majored in painting we were all pushed to make work for galleries in the form of post-modern "instalations". I always felt this work was not what I wanted. To me the most powerful work affects people's everday lives. This is where pots can speak without the translation of the gallery setting, directly from artist to user.
    ps. I wish I was coming to the dinner at the department store- the plates and the food look delicious.