Monday, January 05, 2004

Chuck Taylor's (Converse All Stars)... And Other Icons

In early 2003 I was contacted by Paul Collier, an American architect based in Paris who had seen some of my work through a mutual contact. He asked permission to maybe use some of my work in proposals he did for clients. Personally I prefer architects to gallerists so I readily agreed. About six months later he got in contact again and said that he had spoken with a client about a yet to be developed piece of mine for the entrance of an office building that they had recently rennovated. So we began to throw some ideas back and forth. He mentioned that the building was home to various design businesses and photographers if I remember correctly. The space it needed to fill was about three meters fifty by about two and a half meters of usable space high. I also remember him saying that something with a sense of humor would be good.

"Chuck Taylors", Steel, 356x98cm, 2004

Hence after about five or six ideas that fell by the wayside we settled on a drawing of a photo I had taken of... yep you guessed it, my Converse All Star sneakers. Or Chuck Taylor's or just simply and affectionately "Chucks".

"Chuck Taylors" (Detail), Steel, 2004

Now I've been wearing these shoes, not this particular pair mind you, for the better part of twenty five years. I remember my first pair and how I proudly strode into the YMCA thinking that they were actually going to make me a better basketball player, they didn't.... But it was like being introduced to a club of people in the know. I wore black chucks all through high school and college where they became billboards for my favorite political staements and musical tastes and even now I have a beat up pair lying around, yea the ones in the picture up top.

Sending the chucks off to Paris

Also working with images that are in some ways icons or have some sort of social weight is something that I'm interested in. Taking images that first and foremost attract me compositionally with the added weight of whatever social or cultural imagery they represent. such as the images below

Brain, Steel, 140x140, 2001
The consummate image for intelligence and or human awareness (or stupidity for that matter).

Boombox, Steel, 150x118, 2002

Cultural icon of black america c.1975, revisited and embraced by white middle class suburban america early 1990's until present. This piece got sucked into a larger Installation called F2T? or Free to Talk?

Pistol, Steel, 202x152, 1999

I got very strong reactions to the pistol, I don't know if something can be quietly violent but if it can it's this image. The pistol obviously is a fairly good icon for violence, for me I'm really attracted to the composition as well. It has to be said that a gun is a tool, whether for shooting beer cans in your backyard or more nefarious uses. I also like most things that represent the evolution of a design and hence could be considered the sum of our knowledge at the point of their fabrication, in a form follows function sense. Regardless it's a potent image and now lives in Brussels.

Heart (Various), Steel, 160x120, 1999

Human Compassion, Love, Life... etc....

Headphones, Steel, 128x117, 2001

Image for everything DJ, electronic culture, and so on.... as is the below image

Tone Arm, Steel, 157x58, 2004