Thursday, July 29, 2010

A World Made by Computers and a World Made by Hand

Yesterday, my day was book-ended by administrative duties of the best kind, observations of faculty in action. I'm always happy to leave my office.

In the morning, I watched a Computer teacher teach about operating systems. In talking about the functions of Cut, Copy, Paste, and how they came to have those names, she talked about the old newspaper business, where people actually cut the text into strips and laid them onto layout sheets.

Ah yes, I remember those days. In my student journalism days, we gathered together to do precisely that as we got the Newberry Indian ready to go to the Newberry Observer offices, where the paper would be printed on huge presses. It was a thrilling process, even though I always cut myself at least once with those X-acto knives.

I remember the first time I did layout on a Mac, and what a revelation it was. We worked in the PR office, and my friend Michael had persuaded them that they needed an Apple. In the after hours, we laid out the student literary journal on that Mac. It was astonishingly easy. I knew that I was glimpsing the future, but I had no idea of the ways that those computing abilities would change us all.

At the end of the day, I went with a class on a field trip to Girl's Club, a gallery, where we saw an exhibit of authors who created their works by hand, mostly. The works were a mix of exquisite--one woman etched shapes with a silver wire into a surface of titanium white and the resulting silver swirls were amazing. She said it took over 500 hours.

There was one piece that was a collection of small, clear jars stuffed with yarn and other trinkets, like a wooden spool in one jar, a string of shells in another. From a distance, it looked like leftover paint. Up close, I found myself captivated.

The whole show captivated me, with its different textures, its bright colors, its interesting conglomerations of objects. One piece was flattened silver (platters, teapots, baskets, flatware) hanging from fishing line from the ceiling. One piece had a lot of layers, cut away and covered, with a variety of colors and textures. One piece had lots of creatures and wreaths made out of yarn scraps and fabric scraps and found items.

If you're in South Florida, you've got until September 30 to see the show, although the gallery is closing for the month of August. Go here for more information.

The show made me want to pull out my yarn and fabric scraps, to see what I could do if I did something more tactile. Of course, the fact that my computer is still not right doesn't inspire me to want to do much more on it. Fiber never betrays me the way that electronics can.

1 comment:

Sherry O'Keefe said...

i like the way you tie cut and paste to this art show. your last line is esp. wonderful: fiber never betrays me the way that electronics can.