Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Junker: Demagogue


I built this thing tonight. It's the first in a series of sculptures that I'm planning. The overall theme involves combining a variety of materials into new objects that are both anthropomorphic and mechanical in nature. This one is named Demagogue and it is a scale model of a fictitious war machine that is so large it could crush a building underfoot. It is made from a flowerpot, plastic bottles, and wooden craft sticks.

Usually, I try to paint everything that I build. I've always painted things, and I usually feel inclined to cover things up as force of habit. I'm not going to paint this one though, because the materials are interesting enough on their own. No point in trying to disguise what is already there.

I felt positive about this piece while I was working on it. It is a machine of death bristling with toy guns, whose purpose is to deal with warfare on an absurd level:  This is war as I see it, filtered through the video games that I play, the tabletop miniatures that I collect, and the science fiction novels that I read. Absurd because it is so disconnected from the true realities of war. Why do I insulate myself from what I should fear? 

demagogue02Here's a close-up shot. I've still got some work to do on this. Some details need to get filled out and there are a few more layers of material I want to add.

More to come.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Shape of Things

claudeWhile it's fresh in my memory I'd like to recount the story of an exodus I undertook two weeks ago-- to visit Les, a good old friend who just got home from his second tour of duty in the Iraq War. Les lives in D.C., but had come back to Ohio for the week to see his family. I had a couple of free days, so the timing was perfect to drive down and visit.

With my wife's blessing, I packed my bag and left behind the urban comforts of Columbus, making my way down into the mess of rolling Appalachian foothills that came to be called Meigs County. The three-lane highway changed into two-lanes, which turned into a county road, and finally settled into a winding back-road that was so familiar I could have probably driven it with my eyes closed. This was home.


I pulled my car up to a house that looked like it hadn't changed since the last time I left it. There were hugs all around and people I haven't seen since for years. The weather was sunny with a steady breeze; not too hot.

We spent a good portion of the day sitting on the porch, catching up on life, and eating our weight in grilled hot dogs and hamburgers. Occasionally, we would waddle down off the porch to play corn hole, which was really just an excuse to walk around in the grass barefoot and be a kid again.

We went to the local American Legion post that evening to shoot some pool and drink an assortment of beverages. Every stranger that I met at the bar that night ended up being the brother or cousin of someone I used to know. Small world. Not much had changed in this place. Had we changed? Maybe. I think we got a little older.

Later that night, we watched The Matador. We ran out of things to drink. I laid on the couch, very still. Blanket over my nose to filter away the fog of cigarette smoke. Room spinning. Nursing a beer that came out of nowhere. TV off. Darkness. TV back on. Snoring. Blackout.

Morning. Devastation. Barren wasteland of ashtrays and carpet. Breakfast is sausage and pancakes. Orange juice is heartburn so I pour it back into the jug when no one's looking. A neighbor comes by. I think his name is Dan. He's raising honey bees on his farm and we talk about that for awhile. I try some honey and it is delicious. Eating honey from the area where you live nullifies any allergies you might have to the local pollen.

More corn hole and hot dogs. This is a happy place.

We walk through woods and cow fields until we come upon an old car covered in mud and manure. The tire is flat but we attempt to drive it anyway. The flat is directly under me. I feel every rock and divot we pass over-- it's a bumpy ride and I am slightly terrified, but then as quickly as it began, the venture ends.  We walk home. Soon I realize it's time I must be getting back to Columbus. Goodbyes and hugs all around. Sheepish, I realize I was having so much fun I neglected to take any pictures until the last minute. Partings are awkward when the distance measured between friends is in hours, but they are no less heartfelt.

Safe travels, and until next time.