The main idea with this was for people to see the three sponges there and the title and try and work out the differences between them. I fitted the shelf lower than usual sort of at hip height in the hope that this level would encourage people to want to pick them up and interact with them. Interaction is something that I am struggling with at the moment. It is difficult to find a way of getting people to interact with my work, something that has become increasingly more important in my work. By putting the sponges on the shelves I effectively alienated them, doing the exact opposite as I intended. Where as they do make for good images, having the work displayed like this goes against my intentions, as the most important element to these sponges it not their material but simply their weight.
I thought a lot about getting people to engage with the work, it was clear as soon as I installed it that the shelf was too safe. I considered going to museums and looking at the set up of artefacts you can touch and what makes people more inclined to touch them. Whether that be the height of the table, the presence of those white material gloves that you never know how many people have worn before you. I even came up with the elaborate set up where the table was lower than average and covered in a memory foam which would allude to the difference in weight of the objects. But after considering the idea more it all seemed rather convoluted and I could not help bu thin there must be another way to achieve the interaction it needed.
For this I looked at Susan Collis’ subtle interventions and how she reveals the properties of the material she uses : Susan Collis uses a variety of techniques and strategies to investigate issues concerning interpretation, craft, value and labour. Everyday objects are presented etched, splattered and stained with marks of work, wear and tear. At first glance, the marks seem to be the accidental results of normal use, and as such seem meaningless and not worthy of examination. Collis is interested in the shift of perception that takes place upon discovery that they are, in fact, careful, intentional acts, and that the materials used are traditionally valued for their financial or decorative properties.
Susan Collis, The oyster’s our world, 2004
Wooden stepladder, mother of pearl, shell, coral,
fresh water pearl, cultured pearls, white opal, diamond
81.3 x 38 x 58 cm
For Collis the interaction is visual, but i think the same rules apply, she does not concern herself with people knowing the vale of the materials straight away, even if people never find out that is fine too. The most significant part of the work if people’s reaction upon finding out the truth and the complete 360 they do in regards to their perception of the work. Collis uses the domestic as a stage for these objects, their is no fancy hanging system, no plints, no shelves the objects are simple placed in their original contexts as if nothing has changed. The titles of her work also allude to their material.
Putting the sponge on the floor in a sink or bucket makes sense as the piece becomes part of the world creating harmony between composition and objects. In turn it will become more about the body, requiring an action to really examine the piece. Instead of appearing to be these important objects, trinkets or collection as they do in this piece by placing them in the world they retain the forgotten object status that the originals had.