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"evolution" Tag

BIG CHUNK, little purpose

Saturday, October 10, 2015

When I first heard about the task of choosing a pair of compared design objects in the Boymans van Beuningen exhibition “Design Derby” –where Dutch design is being compared to Belgium design– I thought it was going to be a long and painful process since I have never been interested in design. Especially not in furniture design which I know nothing about. It was a relief when I found out that the exhibition was well organized and the objects presented were described in an understandable manner. At first I had to take several strolls through the exhibition before I realized what my choice should be, and it was no other then the Grandfather clocks. Seeing them made the choice so easy that I even didn’t think about how hard it would be to compare them. That turned out to be difficult, since only later I realized I know nothing about the styles of design and even the point of owning one is completely unclear to me.


So these are the clocks that I ended up choosing, The one on the left is Designed by a Belgium artists Georges Hobe and architect Antoine Pompe in 1902 while the other clock at the right is designed by a Dutch designer Christiaan Wegerif also in 1902. You can see that both of the clocks are made at the same time, yet they are completely different. The Dutch designed clock is much more masculine and solid, also it has more detail and decor in general. The Belgium clock meanwhile is famine and is more about the function, It hasn’t been overly decorated and is just as complicated as it needs to be in order to serve its function. To have a general idea of what similar types of clocks look like and how they are the same or different you can visit this link that sells german grandfather clocks or this that sells grandfather clocks in general and has some background info as well.

So after the exhibition I thought to my self what the reason was of making this, (now seemingly) foolish choice that seemed so easy and clear at the moment I made it. Suddenly it clicked to me; my grandmother, she used to have several Grandfather clocks, and only now I started understanding how sad it is that I never paid attention to them. I never had the chance of asking her why does still keep them. My grand mother was very old and as I noticed, the clocks just became closer to her with time, after she got moved to an old people home, she took only few belongings with her, few pictures, bottle of cognac and one of the grandfather clocks. I guess there it served as a reminder of past and the overall importance of time.

So due to the lack of information on the specific Grandfathers clock’s of my choice I decided to do a general research and the first thing that was unclear to me was the origin of the name “Grandfather clock” why not Grandmother clock or just Tall clock? Once again it all comes down to pop music, its named after a song “My Grandfather’s Clock” performed by an American songwriter named Henry Work [x], who wrote a song about a clock which stopped working the same minute of the day when the last surviving owner died and happened to be a grandfather, you might think that this is a made up myth but let me surprise you that the chances of this actually happening are pretty high since the less expensive clocks at that time needed to be wound every day or they just stopped working. The Grandfather clock is usually 1.8 – 2.4 meters tall and is a weight driven pendulum mechanism that is located in the tower or the waist of the body, this kind of clock was first developed in 1670 by an English clockwork William Clement.

Longcase_clock antique grandfather clock Friese staande klok

Until early 20th century these were the most accurate time keeping technologies so they were often kept by huge businesses and rich households. Now they only serve as decorative objects since it needs a lot more maintenance then a everyday wrist watch and most people now don’t have the TIME for that. Since I have a very limited interest and knowledge of history I decided to take a look at some modern day grandfather clocks, and I was rather sad to find out that with few exceptions they are not made by hand anymore and they have all become electronic. So I found very few companies that still make handcrafted clocks but only this Kauffman’s company offers to make a clock costum made just for you and how ever you want it so it has a much higher value and can relate to a specific family which in this case I think is very important. Though I must admit that the clocks made by hand then and now are not pleasing to my taste, and I find the modern ones more aesthetic and visually appealing for example this black and simple clock.


At the same time by loosing the need of a huge item that serves only the purpose of showing time they now serve new purposes that previously just couldn’t fit in the same casing with a pendulum mechanism. They can have built in drawers or be used as book shelves a and probably many other new purposes could be thought of. Here you can see the same clock as previously but opened and instead of the pendulums you have a set of drawers, that could be used perhaps for your dirty underwear that you wish to hide from the public eye.


Another great function but a rather ugly outcome.


I think the shape of clocks should not be forgotten, they just need to be redesigned to serve more purposes then showing time or they can just as well turn in to art pieces since they have such a strong image and meaning as a thing on it’s own, for example artist Maarten Baas has done few works that relate to grandfather clock directly or to time in genera. Most related to this subject would be his work “Real time” where instead of the usual clock face there is an LCD screen within the clock that shows a human inside the clock drawing the time on the clock face. Read about three contemporary artists that explore the general concept of time.

I personally don’t like clocks at all since they just keep reminding me of the amounts of time I have wasted on useless activities. So I would need a grandfather clock that goes backward and is constantly fooling me or doesn’t show time at all. Something like this…




Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In my case rules always bring a lot of variations. I observe it a long time because my way of working usually include one or more rules. Sometimes because I pick the rule but most of the time they are visible when work is finished. They reflect my present situation and feeling but for that certain amount of time they become rules and then variation of creating is visible.

It is not random that I found how this rules are already involved in me and I have no problem with it because rule is just a strong word- meaning most of the time something destructive but there is theory in biology which can very easily prove how rules are from the beginning a part of life and that they provide never ending variations of everything we are surrounded by.

Charles Darwin introduced us to his theory of evolution in 1859 with his book On the Origin of Species.

This theory is based on several rules which explain that it is working :

1, In nature of biological species exists variability and is partly hereditary

2, In this variation there must exist some species which are more and some which are less adapted to the condition of environment where they live

3, Species which are more adapted have bigger possibility to create descendants. And when this process is repeated for a longer time then certain type in certain environment will spread and this is called = blind power

4, Everything alive has last universal common ancestor

Example for a blind power is very simple:

Imagine that you are walking some field and you come across a stone, what do you think of is that ok is a stone and it was here or somewhere around from the begun, but now imagine you found a watch.Probably you take it and observe it, you check if it works, you find out that is a machine which measures a time, you see from which kind of parts it is made so it is sure for you that there had to be someone who designed it someone we call watch-maker. Existence of watch prove an existence of watch-maker. But this is the thing which Darwin challenged.He is tried to say that watch can exist without watch-maker.

The choice of nature can be called something like a blind watch-maker – he get some parts of watches separately and one by one he makes a watch from it.The thing is that he doesn’t know that he is making a watch.

Darwin was a very big observant and had a big possibility to travel around the world what makes him very rich of the materials he could used for his theory.

Another example of his theory which nicely explain also how rules of environment included food,weather… influence variability in this planet is his observing of birds- finches in the islands where he found out that they differ depending on what surround them and especially what differ is their beak – tool for eating. The reason is that finches split all over the different islands and by evolution they adapted themselves to the world around them and its rules.

Evolution begins with the first life in this planet and thats for me also where the creation begins and where the rules are always present and there is nothing wrong with it. The word freedom would never exist and would never have such a powerful meaning without the word restriction = laws.

To finish I choose the last part of Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species:

“It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants

of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects

flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to

reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each

other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been

produced by laws acting around us.  These laws, taken in the largest sense,

being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by

reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the

conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as

to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection,

entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved

forms.  Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most

exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production

of the higher animals, directly follows.  There is grandeur in this view of

life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the

Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone

circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a

beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and

are being evolved.”

Eat sleep create?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Detail from the flee
Detail of the Bayeux Tapestry,c.1066. People eat, sleep, breed and create.

In this post I will quickly address to a specific example and a specific theory that goes into this subject. Even though we do not see art as a necessity to life, as long as we life there tends to be creativity. Apparently they go together, they feed each other. How are they linked? Besides sleeping, eating and breeding, do we need culture? If it does not contribute to surviving, why is it there? Man has been carving in caves, painting in sand and weaving threads to tell stories that will survive us. You could say this is a pattern in human existence. If storytelling or archiving in either books or objects is a pattern, is creation equal to basic need? Researching this subject I found the Bayeux Tapestry to be a nice study case. Tapestry’s made at the time of the Bayeux Tapestry are often described as folk art. Folk art, a concept that is very well explained by Jean Dubuffet, typically embodies traditional forms and social values. It originally suggested crafts and decorative skills associated with peasant communities in Europe – though presumably it could equally apply to any indigenous culture. It has broadened to include any product of practical craftsmanship and decorative skill. Folk art has also a utilitarian characteristic to it. Utilitarian because it displays the life events of a collective, rather than an individual experience. This social or collective aspect of it makes it interesting to research in association to social behavior. When looking at cultural history there are bluntly put two ways to look at the history: through folklore culture and through ‘elite’ art culture.
Art in the 14th century was a male dominated field. Artists worked a lot for commissions, and painting can be seen as the biggest medium. It represents an elite culture because the elite financed most paintings. On the opposite the folklore culture deals with a great collective history. Woman, left on the shores while their man went out for wars or exploration, stood together and shared their lives in many ways. It is no wonder then, that most of the folklore art, made by these women in particularly, is usually subject to a specific event in their lives. The documentation we know nowadays, is the same as the folk art way of storytelling of these long last centuries.

Greec Vase 570 BC, Trajan Column Rome, Captain America vs the Axis of Evil, a message from the Minestry of Homeland Security.

Although you could argue that the Bayeux Tapestry is not an example of folk art, I would say it is. It is true that the tapestry was made as a commission and the ‘team’ of people who made it where highly classified workers who were selected to work for the state of England. But think about it. It is not about who made it that much, it is about the specific choice for this medium. Each medium talks and feeds our minds differently, not only visually. So the English King and Queen wanted to document this period of Great War. They could also have chosen any other medium besides tapestry. They could get a painter to make a huge war scene; they could pick a hero from the battlefield and give him a statue. But they chose for the medium of textiles. And there is a reason for this choice. The Bayeux Tapestry is made in this form so that the people could relate to it. It is made as a form of propaganda to underline connections between the English crown and the bishop at the time in England. Also there are small references to the Normandy regime, undermining their power and choosing a more heroic English version of the battlefield. The Bayeux Tapestry, or actually the real technique is embroidery, is like a modern propaganda youTube movie. Looking at it shows no difference to ‘real’ amature paste-up movies. In this case there is surely a strategy behind it. I do not want to go into this too much, or make it a conspiracy story, but it seems not more than logical to me that a mass medium is not always just directing the masses of the people. It can also be used to address the elite, because it appeals so much to the mass. Susan Sontag already wrote it in on photography. Amateur pictures and art photography are different. They talk different. But this difference is a strength you can use.

So from which desire does folk art come? In researching the essence of why we create the basic question first is what is there to create from? Philosophers have written many theories about how we perceive the world. Choosing one of the many, I focus on the theory of Lacan. It describes three ways in which the world is ordered. It is interesting because it suggests that the way we life, think, and create are prior to eating, sleeping and breading. This all comes from Lacan’s theory on the three world orders, being the real, the symbolic and the imaginary.

Lacan’s order of the Real finds a lot of similarities with the well known philosophical term ‘die welt an sich’. The real order is the objective outside world, known as a whole, without any conceptual boundaries set by language. This order always remains invisible for the subject, never to grasp. The symbolic order is the world the way we experience it through language, image, story, and so on. Every conceptual possibility in words is used to give form to the imaginary order. That imaginary order is the world of desire and fantasy. It is not only desire and fantasy as we know it in de Freudian way.
In Lacan’s theory the imaginary refers to every single subjective experience through the real. In the three orders it is clear that the imaginary order is something that is fundamental to our being. We think, or at least we would like to believe so. Every thought, desire, fantasy or whatever you experience non-materialistically fits into this order. But it did not come there by a gift of god. Like I said above, the three orders feed each other. Our experience comes from the real world, but what we notice of this is depending on the symbolic order. In a way the symbolic order determines what we explore of this real order. Then again, the imaginary takes all these concepts deriving from the symbolic order into consideration and is able to give some output.
This output needs a concept, definition, or even materialization to be noticed and to be justified. And this is the point were culture comes in. From this I understand that culture is like a snowball. It takes along things that stick, it leaves out things that don’t.  It starts small but picks up along the way and grows and grows and grows. When accepting this theory it is very logically that creation is a fundamental part of our existence, because we need concepts and objects to think. Without thinking we cannot react.
What for example the Bayeux Tapestry is showing us, is in a way nothing new to what we already know: we shape and create our own existence. This does not come after the first basic surviving needs of eating sleeping breading etc; it goes parallel next to it.

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