Oh, yes, this daily (for daily, read, striving for daily) visual journalling thing is proving to be a good idea. (I can hear a trillion-scrillion-to-the-power-of-infinity-and-more artists around the known and unknown universes, groaning, shaking their heads in disbelief and asking in unison: “How come it took you so long?”)
My husband found this plastic toy (second image) while digging out an old compost pile at our allotment. For old read about 50 years. I think he’s meant to be one of those superheroes of comic book fame. Somebody out there can identify him?
He was so caked in the mud of the ages, he was hardly recognisable as a representation of the human form, so I gave him a good bath. Afterwards, I examined him. I couldn’t figure out if that’s a helmet he’s wearing. And the white face, is it a mask, or is it paint. He looks a bit kabuki-like, so maybe he’s Japanese. One of his hands was at one time wrapped round something – a weapon, likely. A spear, probably, so he’s not a Samurai. His head swivels and his waist, hips and knees, but for all his magnificent bulk of muscle, he can’t stand up on his own.
Without rhyme or reason, I found myself, my visual journal entry in mind, drawing round my superhero. The legs and arms slipped around all the time and so I ended up with a lot of overlaid shapes. I was reminded of Boccioni’s Futurist sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space. The resemblance is superficial; the focus of the Boccioni sculpture is set out in Futurist manifestos. Boccioni’s figurine fuses man with (industrial) machine and has him pressing industriously forward through space-time (my theory – the sculpture dates from 1913 and Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity was published in 1905 in an article titled: On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies).
My superhero is a fighting machine. But unlike Boccioni’s human machine, which can move at 186,282 miles per second – the speed of light in a vacuum – my superhero can’t stand up on his own two feet. Boccioni’s superhero – while circumnavigating the earth in 7.5 seconds – could have a good go at fending off a black hole. Well, probably not.
That’s where the dissimilarity ends. Neither superhero is fit for purpose, despite having been developed to their respective perfect states. For the honing has gone beyond its utilitarian purpose. My superhero has developed his body to a point where he cannot function as a protector. Boccioni’s exalts industrialisation as Progress. The age of the machine was coming and would meet all the needs of Man. it didn’t – it filled the pockets to overflowing of a few whose focus was on profit. Man became enslaved to this ideal. I have personal experience of this – my grandfather was a coal miner for 50 years, with a short holiday spent in the French trenches – and a good illustration of life in Blake’s ‘dark, satanic mills’ can be found in Dickens’ Hard Times.
I felt inclined to seek out in my superhero, his thinnest part, his interior, I guess. It’s the red line in the drawing. The design/focus – blueprint – was flawed.
Drawing around objets-trouvé. I’ve been drawn to this for some years. In my first Visual Journal entry I’ve done this. I’ve defined it variously as (amongst others) encapsulating, holding-down, protecting, encystment, freezing in time and space. Here, it’s an emblem for what happens when focus is flawed. And in this, I found myself looking at my drawing earlier tonight and it has helped me understand what’s going on in respect of a domestic situation that has been causing a great deal of chaos in mine and my husband’s lives recently. And helped us re-focus.
Amazing what you turn up when you go-digging.