May 11, 2018

Here's Something Cool: Mechanical Birds

        It’s time for another selection of gorgeous steampunky sculptures, and this time I have for you two artists whose birds come out quite different in style, but who both assemble their sculptures from very specific found objects.
        Jeremy Mayer made these swallows entirely from parts of old typewriters.  They include absolutely nothing that isn’t from the typewriters - not even glue or solder.  The outer stretch of the wings can fan in and out, which makes them seem that much more like robots or automatons rather than mere objects d’art.  What’s so much fun about them is that the typewriter parts are not in any way disguised or transformed, they’re very clearly still recognizable typewriter parts, and yet when assembled in this way they simultaneously become 100% swallows.
        Matt Wilson (aka Airtight Artwork), on the other hand, builds his birds almost entirely from silverware, adding only a bit of wire and sometimes other bits of scrap metal, and mounting them on wood.  These are certainly art sculptures, not robots(!), but they share with Mayer’s swallows that incredible property of reusing objects intended for something entirely different, and yet making them seem as if they must have been designed precisely for
their current spot.  The curves of spoons, the serrations of knife blades, the feathers - I mean
tines - of the forks…  Wilson’s birds are also amazing for what they don’t include.  There is often quite a bit of negative space in his designs, hollow areas, details left out, and yet they include everything necessary to capture the perfect essence of titmouse, nuthatch, or wren.  The other thing I find great about them is that they’re made from very ordinary, junky silverware.  I’ve seen plenty of lovely things made from lovely antique silver spoons, but it’s all the more wonderful to make such objects of beauty from something that really doesn’t seem at all beautiful before its transformation.
        Both of these artists have the wonderful gift of seeing the beautiful potential in something not very beautiful, and of course they also both have the gift of being able to make that transformation so that the rest of us can see it, too.  Charms, transfiguration, or illusion, it’s surely some kind of magic.

        (See some previously posted cool Mechanical Treasures here.)

[Pictures: Typewriter part swallows, assembled sculptures by Jeremy Mayer, c 2013 (Images from Colossal);
Silverware birds, sculptures by Matt Wilson, c 2017 (Images from Colossal and My Modern Met).]

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