Intervention of Felt Reality

Created as the culmination of a year's research, Intervention of Felt Reality is the title for the collection of work submitted towards the Australian HSC, it was eventually selected for a touring exhibition starting at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and toured for most of following year. The kinetic sculpture marked a clear departure from the materials and processes I was preoccupied with at the time, conceptually introducing an element of semiotic ambiguity to what was otherwise a practice led by narrative. I often cite it as a turning point in my work owing not only to the materials used in its production, but an intuition towards the symbolic reception of the piece. Sourcing discarded parts from skips and garages, collecting obsolete motors among other functional components; the intention was to combine these redundant parts in a visually arresting way. While I've often questioned the success of this, the resulting kinetic sculpture is nonetheless a curious artifact that suggests an element of temporal awareness and transience; simultaneously drawing the viewer in with the familiar mezmeric skipping rope, yet alienating with the peculiar manner in which it is formed.  There was a bit published in Artexpress 4D: New Media Educational Resource regarding the piece, from my understanding it was written and put together by art students, the following are excerpts:

Intervention of Felt Reality
(Sculpture) Video Documentation
4D Witness to a Moment in Time;

Starting Point:
Using a JVC HDD Camcorder to capture a range of camera angles and effects, Luis Tapia’s video work documents the movement of his constructed, mechanised kinetic sculpture*. At both ends of an extended rope, motors on plinths work the rope so that it rotates much like a skipping rope would in a playground. The sculpture’s sophisticated working mechanisms create an expectation that a figure will enter the scene and ‘jump rope’.

Conceptual Analysis:
As Intervention of Felt Reality progresses it becomes clear that the sculpture is intended as an object of contemplation rather than one to be physically interacted with. This is reinforced by the sole figure (the artist perhaps?) who enters the scene, positions himself in front of the sculpture to contemplate the sculpture’s movement as it turns on its own accord. In recording the sculpture’s form and movement, the video exists as a documentation, telling us: ‘this is what the artist made’, ‘this is how it works’, and ‘this is what we do with it’. As with photographs, this video is witness to a moment in time. The video however does more than document a performance, art event, or unique art object. While the figure within the film contemplates the sculpture as object, the spectator contemplates the aesthetics of the moving image of the video.

With its grainy, black and white aesthetic the video too is an artwork in and of itself. In place of the actual working kinetic object is a screen depicting a moving, ephemeral image, an image which, whilst reminiscent of the actual filmed art object, communicates a certain movement and beauty of form that the physical sculpture alone can never reproduce.

Intervention of Felt Reality blurs the video’s role as documentation of an artwork. Tapia’s video also represents collaboration between the subject (the kinetic sculpture) and the use of specific video production processes – both of which are crucial to the final product. Using a range of technical and artistic strategies, the audience contemplates scenes of whirring movement, shifting focus, stark contrast and patterning. Such strategies include ‘filming’ in black and white, use of filters, and a range of camera angles and perspectives. The video’s intentional absence of sound or music is also notable in promoting an environment for contemplation, where the viewer is drawn primarily to the visual aspects of the scenes. In his Body of Work, Tapia has made a series of artistic decisions which contribute to the resolution of the piece. One of these decisions is the intentional categorisation of the work as a ‘Sculpture’ rather than other possible categories such as ‘Film/video’, ‘Documented Forms’ or ‘Collection of Works’. In classifying the Body of Work as a ‘Sculpture’ with both the kinetic piece and the video. The video takes on a sculptural significance and its presence is essential.- Sally Leaney (COFA, UNSW Graduate, 2009)

An interview including discussion on the piece

Intervention of Felt Reality begins with flashes of a mechanical object whirring and rotating in silence amongst the black and white film grain as the camera pans and focuses on the various parts of the machine. The viewer is drawn to the actions undertaken by the machine; a slow, clumsy rotation of what appears to be a skipping rope. The object darts in and out of focus, as if the very eyes that are observing this object are having trouble seeing and interpreting this object. Abruptly the object is revealed to the viewer as the object sparks to life starting with a tangle of rope. After a number of rotations the oscillating rope sculpts out an object, as if out of thin air. The lines traced by the rope seem to lengthen and hang in the air as we are introduced to a figure, who approaches the sculpture as the camera captures the whole scene from a medium distance. The audience is reintroduced to a range of high shots, low shots and close-ups that again focus on the mechanics inherent in the object and further explain the object to the audience. For the final shot the viewer is then shown a medium shot of the object, as we are again witness to the viewer quietly observing, sitting and then departing the scene as the film slowly fades to black. - Alex Greene (COFA, UNSW Student, 2009).

*Kinetic sculpture – A sculpture which is dependent upon moving parts and motor-driven devices for effect. Kinetic artworks rely on the effects of movement, that is, they are dynamic rather than static. Kinetic sculpture as a class of art was most prominent during the 1950s and 1960s, with Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner being the first to write about kinetic works in their ‘Realist Manifesto’.

Full publication including a written interview can be found here.

Related links: process journal, peer interview.