Friday, September 10, 2010

[Theme] On Breaking :

Post-glass artists appear to be enjoying broken glass. They undertake tasks to either break glass or make from a destroyed object. In doing so, they challenge certain fundamental notions about object-hood and our interactions therewith :

* When an object breaks, it has failed. Glass is termed fragile, and often shied away from, for this reason. * We are particularly fearful of broken glass, as it cuts deep, silently. The sound and sight of glass - crunching, shattering, grinding, imploding - is disconcerting to most people and reminds them of the dangers posed. * Breaking things is not acceptable, socially. Considered the projection of either inattentive or self-destructive human nature onto an object, surface, person or external situation, the gesture is frowned upon, if not punished. Breaking is a sign of aggression or clumsiness.

The urge for post-glass artists to work with broken glass may stem from the desire to :
* Transcend the static, pristine and cold nature of the finished object (as is customary in studio glass history) by using it (the object) as a starting point for making. * Focus on properties of the material instead of creation of a form. And finding new form from that process. * Partake in the politics and associations that the act of breaking brings about in a way that conventional glass culture does not.

There is an interest to engage moments that vanish quickly in the self-containment of glass objects. The act of destroying the object is a gesture that has no creative place in studio glass even though it is an integral part of the making process. Since video has the ability to capture such moments accurately, a number of artists, many featured on this blog, are using video to focus on the breakable nature of glass.

For example, a part of The Post-Glass Video Festival, Alana Kakoyiannis's Untitled cloaks the aggression that is needed to break a Pyrex dish in a sink. And when confronted with a shattered object the viewer is forced, rudely, to comprehend and reconstruct in her mind, the undisputed presence of that force.

Kimberly McKinnis tests the viewer's endurance of aggression that assumes the form of slow, non-vocal and painstaking destruction. The incessant grinding of glass against harsh concrete in Untitled: The Shape of an Emotion II as a beer bottle is transformed to dust is reminiscent of someone grinding their teeth in pain.

Brett Swenson's Execution begins a game of expectancy with the viewer as bullets of heat impact a clear glass surface : At what point will the glass break? What happens to the man behind the glass when it breaks?

Unlike these other works that exploit our perception of "breaking" to tell their story, Giuseppe Di Bella's puzzle-like reconstruction of a broken milk bottle in Healing reverses the object's fate and in turn, assimilates a space within which the viewer can reflect. His gesture in the video is one of tender care - patient, calm and painstaking. It speaks of catharsis.

In ways such as the above, but not limited to, post-glass artists ask : Hot glass forms, Cold glass breaks. Why not engage it? And in turn, they are seeking meaning in the destruction of a glass object.

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