Sculptures change even as you look at them. Carvings differ from one time to another, under one light source or another, in one media or another — both the image and the original thing itself change.
This web optimized photo of a sculpture I made in wood was inspired by a Nara period theatrical mask.
Here you see it on the web, but the sculptured mask is already different from the photographic image: the wooden carving’s physical image changes with countless shifts in light and shadow. It’s one of three installed in my Head Case.
Head Case ~ Media Container
It holds upright three original sculptures of Japanese theatrical masks.
Gold is their color (more or less). It survives as aging paint to embellish the carvings, and as filtered light passing through translucent yellow panels — one on the front for visitors to look inside, and one on the top to admit light from overhead, sun, moon and, yes, electric lights.
Gold light plays on the 3 masks as they turn and change their images on the 3 reflective surfaces. This head case measures about 20″ on each side of the cube – big enough to rotate three full-size masks on the turntable.
The outside of the case is reclaimed redwood from my old fence. When I need more wood, I just take another board off the fence,
Then, the image I originally had in mind — hasn’t that changed, too?
n.b. If you want to see original Nara period masks and other fine carvings of the period, start with volumes 3 and 4 of Genshoku Nihon no Bijutsu.
“Back to the Future” fashions appeared recently in one of the Sunday magazines. But something was weird, I looked closer.
Yes, the photo editor had stretched the model to be nine feet tall (so tall he cut her feet off the bottom of the picture). Wow. Is this how fashionistas like to see themselves? The photo showed only the front. I wondered what a nine foot tall model looks like from the back. So, I carved one, my front and back photo:
Most sculptors need some sort of rationale to do their job, even if they have to make it up. Here’s mine.
Anthropologists’ dig (a thousand or two thousand years from now) unearths a funerary model from the tomb of a 21st century fashion king or queen.
Aboriginal Burial Commission directs the model be sent back to the 21st century.
And here it is, showing the effects of 1 or 2 millenia in the royal burial tomb. Back from the future, back and all.
Funerary carving is about 32″ tall – I am fresh out of 9 foot redwood logs.
I bought a Douglas Fir beam (6″ x 12″ x 12′) at Rafael Lumber yard in San Rafael. They cut it into pieces to fit inside my Jeep. I took it home to my shed/studio and let it dry for about six weeks, which looked and felt about right for wood sculpture .
Then, I carved an abstract sculpture in wood: Fir Face & Vases, at left, 15″ x 10.5″ x 5.4″ ~ colored with blended oil stains (Old Masters), and tung oil – all rubbed with rags.
Now I’m carving the remainder of the Doug fir beam here in my studio in Kentfield, Marin County.
I collected the 30 volumes of Genshoku Nihon no Bjijtsu — 29 of them when I was a poor student in Tokyo from 1966.
These 11″ by 14″ pages of large color photographs of Japanese cultural treasures (over a hundred in each volume) were stunning when they were first published and have held their full color integrity throughout.
To read the reading, you will need to do so in Japanese.
Over the intervening years I have looked at the pictures often and studied many. Right now I am “into,” as we have learned to say, early Nara Period wood sculpture (about 7th Century AD). It’s time to find them a new keeper.
The books need nearly four linear feet of shelving and justify a custom built book case. I had one built into my house, so that book case stays with me in California.
Last year I tracked down the last volume (actually, number 26) . I have posted the complete 30-volume collection for sale as a single “lot” on e-Bay, including description and statement of condition. If interested, you may see it here.
If the selling process drags on long enough, i will post representative detail of contents on this blog.