Students who graduated around the millennium from Carson-Newman College were invited to submit recent works for a show to coincide with the university’s 2013 homecoming. The purpose of writing so much about this piece is mainly to explain my artwork to the other people in the show, since it was done partly for them.
A geode is a regular-ol’ looking rock that, when cracked open, reveals a secret world of gemstone. If someone handed you a geode, you would have to take it on faith that in the center were amethysts. It would not be until you destroyed the rock-ness (the smooth, round, appearance of something that looks uniformly rocky) of the geode that you discovered its real nature.
Years after my senior show in 1999, I decided that 1) instead of trying to maintain the pristine nature of several of the pieces and 2) as a way of ‘moving on’ since they physically took up a lot of room and actually got in the way of working on other stuff, I would burn them and save the cremains for a future project.
The development of my optophonetic alphabet has been an ongoing project since high school, and as such has become a part of my artwork. It, along with keeping a journal, was something I was always working on through college.
The cremains were the material I had first, so they were good to go.
I had the general idea for the form in my head, but I couldn’t work out if it were possible to really exist when I sat down to measure materials. I tried sketching out the form, but I wanted to be sure it would really occupy the space I wanted it to. So, I used SketchUp to create a model on the computer. As I was creating this model, I decided that 21 inches in any direction was a good size; each cube would be a 1-inch cube, for a total of 2321 cubes.
In order to use wood for the basic structure, I planed down 2 x 12s to get precise 1-inch pieces of wood to work with. Thanks to my dad for this, because he suffered through running boards through the planer for 2 days with me. After that, I built the structure according to the model.
With the cubes stacked the way they are, only 1326 faces of these cubes are visible to the outside. I used this number as the number of characters I would use for the written message which would appear on the cubes. The form as a whole is based around a cube itself, and so characters on the faces could be read from six different ways. To easily type my message, I needed a font, which I created using FontForge.
I also needed a 2-d way of plotting where the characters would go in 3 dimensions, for which I used Excel (which I like to refer to as Microsoft Grid, since that is often how it it used). After writing a message, I used Inkscape to create .DXF files for use with my paper cutter. As the letters were cut out, I glued them in the right place on the structure and painted it with many, many coats of primer.
The message written all over this piece has a plain meaning. I wrote about being in school with the other people in the show, about how lucky I was to be around them, and the sense of healthy competition which pushed us all to take things to the next level.
One thing I still like imagining is the pieces in the gallery at night, with no one there, but the presence of the artworks being there, sort of representing each of us. For me, the whole show was about creating a monument to our time at school together.