Wunderland – Critical Reflection

The notion of wonder or wonderment is by its very nature subjective. What one person finds a source of wonder depends on their personality, their experiences, their context, and may be entirely different to that of a stranger, a friend or even a family member. To explore this concept I have chosen to present a static work of art in the form of a collage consisting of a large array of materials placed chaotically on a large piece of canvas. It is a two dimensional platform, however, the art itself will break the wall into the third and even fourth dimension. The materials and objects I have used represent both a personal and historical understanding of wonderment as well as a blend of natural and man-made. I have always had a fascination with eyes, mirrors, flowers and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and so they will feature in my work but I am also combining my individual perspective with that of humanity. Aspects of life that humans have always been baffled and awed by: space, natural phenomena, feats of engineering and the mysterious. 20151005_212545The materials I will use consist of paint, lead, metal, plastic, stone, rope, paper and glass while the objects include gears, flowers, pieces of clothing, beads and other everyday items that can be reinterpreted. By combining personal and historical, natural and synthetic my work will display the scope to which the concept of wonder can infiltrate the worlds and our lives. That things we take for granted, things of seemingly little significance can inspire awe and appreciation.

I have taken my inspiration from the Wunderkammer but have moved away from Joseph Cornell’s work and cabinet of curiosities to create more of a museum or memory theatre. A Wunderkammer is a collection of objects without categorical boundaries. To inspire awe and wonder these works rely on the viewer to interact with the work on an intangible level by creating meaning through thought and examination. Just like with the idea of Frans_Francken_(II),_Kunst-_und_Raritätenkammer_(1636)wonder the outcome is different for each individual, as it is up to them to draw links between the works and what they see will depend on who they are. I have taken this idea and pushed it a step further. Instead of a collection of individual works I intend to fuse many ideas onto a single piece of canvas, creating a seemingly haphazard mess – which in itself will generate wonder – and leave the audience to try and put the pieces together. The interactivity and participation in my work resides in the personal interpretation of the viewer. As much as the artwork is the artwork it is also discourse it creates both within and without.

My motivation for creating a work that requires such conceptual participation derives from the fact that most of my classmates are creating interactive pieces including technologies such as Arduinos and makey makeys. This caused me to question whether or not something is a source of wonder if it is it not interactive, if it is stationary. In this technological age where consumer have become prosumers and even children are being encouraged to learn and grow by interaction or playing, can something hold their attention if they can only observe not touch. I am anticipating that many people will wonder whether it does in fact do anything but this in itself is a sense of wonder. If the audience is confused by a stationary piece of art then it becomes a commentary on the social practices in our society. This is not a good or bad thing and I am not attempting to say as much but I aim to point it out all the same. Although my main goal is to inspire wonder I am also attempting to exploit the subjectivity of meaning. No matter what viewers gets out of my work it will not be what I intended and if viewers gets nothing out of my work they will be reinforcing the idea that the value of art changes with the context.