Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Anthony Pack

I was going through iphoto yesterday to clean out some stuff and came across this photo of this piece by Anthony Pack I bought this summer at the art show downtown. I've loved all of Anthony's work since the first time I saw it years ago, so it was no surprise that these new little sculptures won my heart immediately. Of course, I was instantly sucked in by the old spice tins, but it was the range of personalities that held me captive. He only had a few left by the time I'd made it to his booth, but even then it was nearly impossible to pick just one.

Inspired by just how basic the constituent parts of these sculptures are, I've been collecting up random stuff in hopes of getting the kids interested in building "robots." Of course, I want them to make pieces like this complete with rivets and nuts and bolts, but each time I pull out the bin o' junk, they dive in and start scotch taping everything together. They are just not ready to focus at the hardware level yet, but I am keeping the project idea handy for the right moment. For those of you with kids, I was actually amazed at just how long a 6 year old could occupy himself with random plastic bottle caps and scotch tape. Once they move beyond the tape stage I find myself really looking forward to what they will make with more sophisticated tools. I have a feeling that some of it will blow us away.

Back to Anthony though. I think one of the things I most admire about his work is the playfulness and childlike willingness to just build. All of his pieces feel to me like he just set out a bin of mismatched randomness, picked out a few interesting items and then effortlessly assembled them into a whimsical character.

Somewhere in there is a quality I am consistently drawn to in art and design. It's that "of course" feeling--as in, "Of course the tea ball is a head with an open mouth. What else could it possibly be." I stumbled upon a few recent examples of this in the book Decoding Design by Maggie Macnab. There are a few logos Macnab has designed that struck me exactly that way. The One Spirit, Balance is Key, and chicken and egg logos on this page are all fine examples of this concept. I probably won't ever hear the phrase "the chicken or the egg" again without thinking of this mark. It is completely comprehensible in one single fleeting glance, but yet when you look at it longer and think more closely about the transformation and spiraling that is also happening within the image, an even more robust meaning reveals itself.

The most difficult thing to do in design/art is to make things look simple. Of course, making things look simple is what kills the reputation of so many fabulous artists. It's a crazy paradox.

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