Step up

This model is made using the same technique as the Man Touching Toes piece then covered in papier-mache and then coloured in acrylic. The size is 80cm.

The pose was inspired loosely by Vito Acconci’s Step Series made in the early 70s. Acconci was trying to get away from what he saw as a mythical tendency in the way art was perceived, whereby the artist’s spiritual quest culminated in an alterpiece to adorn the shrine of high art. He performed the mundane action of stepping onto and off of a stool in his apartment each day until he’d had enough. Ironically after several performances like this Acconci himself was perceived as a heroic performance artist – a seeker after the ‘truth’ in art, so he stopped doing it.

I copied the action, first one foot onto the stool, and then the other in Poser, using my own action as a guide to the detail of the movement.

Here’s the resulting object (only looking at every 5th frame of 60).

This was sliced projected , cut out and glued together resulting in this:

As the action was from left to right I decided to make the cardboard slices go in that direction too. This made an interesting contrast to the Toching Toes piece – I’ll need to consider this grain to an extent in future models where the actions are less obviously indicated. As the figure is to be covered it doesn’t matter too much – but some contouring can be seen through the papier-mache so it is a factor. Also to be considered are ease of construction (contouring vertically meant half as many pieces to cut out), and also build strength (at this small size this isn’t a problem but may be with larger overhanging models).

Papier-mache-ing was fun, but the resultant ‘dead’ form didn’t particularly inspire me. It reminded me a little of Segal’s body casts of the 70s and issues of entombment which I’m not primarily interested in. I’d initially planned on doing two models one Step Up and one Step Down, but looking at this model I decided the forms would be so similar as to be redundant. Next, I rather crudely painted the object and it suddenly came back alive.

The painting was crude because the detail on the model was lacking relative to the perfect Rhino rendering. I had to make a few artistic decisions, in particular the Rhino model only displayed 30 frames and had a strange alternating pattern on the front bending down forehead, which i removed.

Overall I’m pleased with this model, it does what it is supposed too – exhibiting the space passed through from point A to point B, and also has an almost comical balance between childish expression (it is after all papier-mache) and an exacting ‘adult’ objectivity below the surface.

I’d be happy to scale up this process to life size, where things like details of ears and fingers would raise above the current low resolution to add to the complexity of looking at the object – just what exactly is going on? What is going where? What just happened?

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