One Person’s Junk…

I used to be such a packrat. My bedroom drawers and closets were stuffed to the brim with various knickknacks from all of the happiest moments of my life, as to never forget any of them and recall that feeling. This was the reason that I spend a good portion of my time (and money) in high school making a scrapbook. It was a visual and tactile preservation of my friendships and goofiest memories.

Nowadays, my inner hippy has squashed out most of my hording tendencies and breathes in all of the space and fresh air left that would otherwise have been taken up by Renuka’s Life memorabilia. None the less, one thing still remains from that venture (wother than the scrapbook)—a love of Found Art. Have you ever made a poem out of words from a magazine? That’s Found Poetry, and Found Art uses those same principles in a visual form. It is the repurposing of odd objects and using it to create something new.

Who else could we thank for pioneering this form of art other than our favorite French curmudgeon/art prankster, Marcel Duchamp and his famous toilet. Fountain, a urinal turned upside down and signed “R. Mutt”, was the first of Duchamp’s Readymades (later coined Found Art by other artists) which caused quite a stir amongst those well known art critics to challenge the definition of art while proving them hypocritical. Duchamp, among others, started the Dadaist movement, which was both a political statement against war and capitalist ideology as well as a cultural statement against the prevailing bourgeois standards and intellectual conformists. It instead embraced chaos and irrationality. It is ironic, then, that Found Art has its roots in Dadaism when Dadaism was actually anti-art in the fact that it went against all aesthetics of its time. Man Ray took Duchamp’s idea a bit farther. In his work, Gift, he takes an iron and attaches nails it. Found Art also influenced some works of art found in the Surrealist movement and Pop Art movement.

Marcel Duchamp's Fountain (1917)

Man Ray's Gift (1921)

You can find Found Art’s influence in a lot of modern arts and crafts. Scrapbooking is one form of Found Art because you take pictures and random already-created papers and embellishments and create an aesthetically pleasing design. My scrapbook was housed inside of a copy of The Tailor of Panama which, somehow, magicked its way onto my front lawn one day. I painted the cover in gold and bronze and cut out the pages to allow room for my own. Before the world’s book lovers and librarians come running after me with torches and pitch forks, I want to show you the following. All of these are forms of Altered Books, which is found art held in book form created from old books.

Altered books appealed so much to me because you still have the typographic integrity as well the form of the book, but it is taken to another level of creativity. It is so accessible and has so much potential for beauty using that which already exists (despite the Dadaist origins of defying aesthetics). In fact, all Found Art seems to work that way. I’m going to end off with a few more pieces of Found Art because I find it incredibly exciting. This following one uses an old gold frame the artist found at a flee market and hung all sorts of inspiration in it. I added the side of the page because the bright colors of her links and the gold frame, antique look, was just a pure source of visual eye candy.

Here are some with a mechanical edge to it:

And of course there is this one. This doesn’t just take your traditional found objects. This truly does take skill. It’s a beautiful work of art that take stuffed insects (yes, once living insects) and steam-punkifies it.

Mechanical Fly

I have one more piece in which I would like to present, which is actually a garden gallery right in our neighborhood, but I’m afraid this must be a new post, as I would have to walk to it and photograph it. This pleasant venture will just have to wait for a day in which I’m not swamped with work. I promise, though, you will see it. It is most definitely worth seeing.

Altered Book Links:

Found Art Links