by the class of SA 65A Foundations of Media Design, Spring 2013
In Studio Art 65A Foundations of Media Design, inspired by Joseph Cornell, we have each assembled and designed a portable box containing a manifesto made up of both text and physical artifacts. The purpose of these manifestos is to communicate what we each value in art. Each box functions as an individual’s art exhibition. Collectively all of the boxes form a miniature art museum under the supertitle “Six Sides.”
Cornell boxes were first made by the artist Joseph Cornell, whose work then became coined as a more general term; for example they feature as an object in the William Gibson novel Count Zero. Today, it the term is used to describe boxes similar to his pieces. A Cornell box relies on juxtaposition, a technique heavily used by surrealists. It is a combination of constructivism and surrealism. Materials for Cornell boxes are everywhere. They can be found in bookstores, on the streets, in secondhand shops, in your home. Joseph Cornell’s goal as an artist was to inspire others to pursue the imagination. He especially emphasized repetition and variation and making something new from nothing. That which already exists is critical to the process of making his boxes.
The use and creation of cabinets of curiosity, or Wunderkammer, began during Renaissance Europe. The word Wunderkammer comes from Germany and is translated to “wonder-cabinet.” Cabinets of curiosity began as large rooms that were filled with numerous curios and various artifacts, natural or artificially created. These cabinets were filled with objects from travels around the world and served as a collection of items for display, personal collections of memories, an affirmation of the owner’s credibility or status as a scientist, artist or king, and as a microcosm that the owner created. Modern-day museums became the successor of the cabinets of curiosity. “Six Sides” is a contemporary form of the cabinet of curiosity; each piece serves as a mini-museum of found objects and original work for personal or public display.
In the 1960s, Fluxus artists combined various media and disciplines in a way known to some as “intermedia.” Their approach to art was later apparent in literature, visual art, and architecture. The goals of Fluxus artists are to work with found materials in order to both “open” the artistic process and to coordinate their visions with the “flow,” or “flux,” of daily life. These goals are achieved through Do-It-Yourself (DIY) work to allow art to be more accessible.
Fluxus boxes are found containers that are manipulated by artists. The box acts as the foundation of the artwork, and the artists build onto it with their own creativity. To execute their overall theme, artists can reconstruct the container, add items inside, and use color to tie it all together. The final projects tend to be interactive in nature, which turn them into performances.
The design process for these boxes encompasses a theme of utilizing readymade or found materials. In almost all of the process, we were encouraged to be inspired by what was already available to us and to transform something that was original in the world into an art piece that was specific to us as artists. After finding our box, we then created a manifesto to govern the choices surrounding the piece and everything that went into the box. The boxes all encompass different and unique themes, chosen by each artist and then showcased through the objects they chose.
Found objects and found art derive from the French term objet trouve. It is the idea of taking an object that typically has no art function and modifying it to become an art object. The social context of a found object is what gives the object an identity. Examples of art incorporating found objects include Marcel Duchamp’s ready-made Fountain, William Burrough’s found text known as The Cut Up Method and the inspiration to our class project, Joseph Cornell’s series of Cornell Boxes. In this class, we have utilized the concept of found art through the collection and appropriation of materials to design boxes individual to each artist’s purpose. Apart from the items placed within the boxes, the box itself is a found object.
Every project in “Six Sides” has its own manifesto written by its artist. We specifically wrote our manifestos from the position of artists to show what we strongly believe about art and the art world, sometimes using other manifestos as the basis of building ours. Some of us imported ideas from such manifestos and agreed or disagreed with ideas presented in them. We used these newfound inspirations or enragement to fuel and shape our own ideas, beliefs, and positions, which we then declared in our manifestos. These manifestos come in various forms and are implemented in different ways in each project. Some used their manifestos to shape their projects and the way in which they function. Others used their manifestos simply as a part of the box, not necessarily as something to shape the whole box’s purpose.
A manifesto is a declaration of a purpose, of ideas, beliefs, or even inspirations. They can be made by both individuals and collectives of individuals alike. They can be personal, political, institutional, artistic, technological and more. Through each of our art-related manifestos, you can see how each of us view and approach art or wish art was approached.
Self-portraits are typically associated with images of the human figure, especially the face. Traditionally, the artist creates a direct representation of themselves, manipulating color and light in order to convey emotional or autobiographical information. Similarly, our boxes in “Six Sides” describe our personal histories and sense of selves, but through interaction with abstracted visual images and physical objects. Nevertheless, the main focus of our projects has been to define an aspect of our artistic practices. To some extent, this cannot help but be tied to our personal experiences. For some of us, this is what defines it.
The purpose of these boxes is not only for storage, but also for the cherishing of memories one wants to preserve. These recollections are often directly or indirectly linked to special and unforgettable moments or events such as weddings, birthdays, and trips. Memory boxes contain treasured objects, including letters, photos, cards, and other personal belongings. Memory boxes may be fixed or they may have a tendency to change over time. Our boxes are partially memory boxes, as several objects link to specific recollections that are precious to us.
Clarissa Ruiz: “Atypical Toolbox”
Evan Hicks: “Khmi: Black Earth”
Ericka Nowell: “Appreciation”
Diana Chang: “The Cracked Kin”
Fengling Zhou: “Gift”
Geovanne Fregoso: “Only Theatre of Pain”
Jennifer Betonio: “The Rabbit Hole”
Blaine Morris: “Lola”
Jenny Kim: “In Which I Make a Mockery of Christ”
Stella Guo: “Trousseau”
Veronica Li: “Divergence”
Linny Tran: “Pandora Nesto”
Monica Verdin: “An Artist’s Muse”
Tammy Lee: “Influences on Self-Expression”
Tiffany Wang: “Box of Life”
Lauren Fong: “Contradiction”
Christie Chang: “Blurred Lines”
Jesus Zerpa: “Acceptance and Appropriation”
Lauren Albiento: “Ars Gratia Artis”
Emily Tsai: “Progression”
Moonhee Sung: “Time Machine”
Mary Painter: “Reality Is Your Own Perception”