Wool bird’s nest. Aesthetic intervention and the desire for form

Deliberate form & obtuse coloration, investigating ideas of human creativity and formal function or representation. The bird builds subconsciously from inbuilt knowledge imposing no aesthetic although to us one emerges.

Actual fallen bird's nest. Made from straw, and horse hair by a bird with no aesthetic inclination other than selection of material for purpose to create an inbuilt blueprint of a certain form.

The thoughts here are not based on ideas put forward by the Fluxus movement and it isn't a philosophy of simplicity or anti art but rather something which explores a personal dialogue I found myself undertaking as I worked with textiles. It is a discussion about conscious learned intervention of recognisable form and the more subconsious instinctive elements of our nature and how an aesthetic response emerges from that.

One of the interesting areas for me working with textiles is their intrinsic beauty and the aesthetic that was deliverable by sensitively allowing the material to be itself. Eva Hesse was an influence in her early work during the 1960's in the sense she was listening to the material and going with its natural desire to move, attach or hang in it's own way. This was defined as the 'anti form' movement so that artists were coming to the materials they were using and not trying to impose 'recognisable' form or at least not beginning from a fixed place mentally that led to finished 'representational' art.

I found this a liberating approach and throughout the week, where I was able, I attempted not to intervene in how the materials wanted to work. There was almost a sensation of playing music when one touched the materials. I had a sense of wrong notes sometimes if I pushed the material too far into a conscious decided way. The textile module made me very aware of the artist 'imposing' form on materials simply because what one was working with was so fragile and ephemeral and susceptible to gravity. There were ways of strengthening the materials by combining them through various techniques which overcame their individual limitations particularly in the sense of creating form or structure.

This led on to ideas of where we intervene with a material and notions of aesthetics and the conscious creative process operating in a different area to the unconscious. I created the bird's nest from wool as a visual representation of the conscious, subconscious dilemma during creation. A bird or other animal will build a structure purely,as far as we know, for function, from random found materials. There is no idea that the bird has any aesthetic thoughts, they simply intrinsically know how to build these intricate structures.

To us this finished form can look very beautiful despite its aesthetically accidental construction. If we were to build a structure from similar materials there would be continual conscious debate over where a material might sit aesthetically next to another. We could of course say the objects construction would be enough as long as it served its purpose 'functionally' and that the bird is not making art. The point however is where one draws that line and it isn't enough to say its purely a discussion about function. The bird has an inbuilt knowledge of nest construction and I think it is an interesting discussion to look at our own inbuilt aesthetic knowledge.

There could be a similar compulsive force that compels us to make beauty from things. The problem is that the conscious brain's attachment to recognisable form seems to interfere with this subconscious 'force' or 'need' for beauty. Satisfaction seems to arrive from delivering a conclusive aesthetic object, functional or not. Allowing conscious ideas and forms we already recognise and know into the creative process can subjugate a materials intrinsic properties at the outset and deliver a forced 'aesthetic' which, because it is essentially representational, is valued over and above a purely subconscious process which perhaps is more truly us.

The wool in the tree looks clumsy and deliberate. The colours were chosen from the first 3 balls of wool I found. The only conscious part of the process was its construction so it held together. The contrast is that a bird with no aesthetic sensibilities (as far as we know) can build something functional and beautiful. For me to match that beauty there is a sense of having to produce a form facsimile or else be very deliberate about replicating something that was nest like.

The act of simply placing wool into a tree can ask important questions about what art is and how we uniquely amongst animals have this internal dialogue during creation about what might and might not be beautiful. I am always trying to listen to the voice that is subconscious and like the bird's nest, wonder at the possibility of accidental beauty. That isn't to say that I don't put in a lot of pre constructive thought about an idea before doing it, because I do. What it says however is that during the process of creation I strive to detach myself from ideas of finished forms and rather focus on the unknown elemental drive much as the bird builds twig by leaf their nest.

 

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