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Found Object Project

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Found_art

The term found art – more commonly found object (French: objet trouvé) or readymade – describes art created from the undisguised, but often modified, use of objects that are not normally considered art, often because they already have a mundane, utilitarian function. Marcel Duchamp was the originator of this in the early 20th–century.

Found art derives significance from the designation placed upon it by the artist. The context into which it is placed (e.g. a gallery or museum) is usually also a highly relevant factor. The idea of dignifying commonplace objects in this way was originally a shocking challenge to the accepted distinction between what was considered art as opposed to not art. Although it is now widely accepted in the art world as a viable practice, it continues to arouse media and public hostility, as with the Tate Gallery's Turner Prize exhibition of Tracey Emin's My Bed, which consisted literally of her unmade and dishevelled bed.

Found art, however, has to have the artist's input, at the very least an idea about it, i.e. the artist's designation of the object as art, which is nearly always reinforced with a title. There is mostly also some degree of modification of the object, although not to the extent that it cannot be recognized. The modification may lead to it being designated a "modified", "interpreted" or "adapted" found object. (Click here to continue reading this Wikipedia article.)

Today, many artists are appropriating and modifying well-known objects. Some of these objects, fashion dolls for instance, are "loaded" with implicit meaning: messages that originate in a cultural context of related values and expectations. Once the artist modifies the object, often through parody or satire, an alternate meaning emerges. This new significance will probably be more faithful to the vagaries of modern life and less compatible with the commercial interests of the company that markets the object.

When the object undergoes this process of "deconstruction", it ceases to embody only the manufacturer's narrow and idealized sentiments and instead, it becomes saturated with the artist's understanding of the greater sociopolitical context in which the object exists. The values that gave rise to the object in the first place are now explicit, allowing the viewer to examine their relative merit.

Thus, in an era where women are expected to have "hour glass" figures, Matel has given the Barbietm doll a body shape that is idealized to an extraordinary degree. If an actual female had the proportions of a Barbietm doll, her waist would measure about twelve inches around while her chest would measure more than fifty inches in circumference. One might ask, "What implicit message does the Barbietm doll give young girls about the qualities of being a woman?" Questions like these have inspired Nickolay Lamm to design a version of the fashion doll that has natural proportions, stick-on stretch marks and scars, an "anti-Barbietm" that beautifully encapsulates a new, enlightened ethos for the 21st century (see link below).

Here are links to three views of Barbie: two opposing views from popular culture and one from academia:

Below are modified fashion dolls that battle against Barbie'stm tyrany of unrealistic expectations. They were created by Paul Montwillo and his company, Arsenic & Apple Pie. It's somewhat unclear who owns the copyright because Matel sued Montwillo, who has also had ongoing legal disputes with his business partner William Tull (click here to read the story):

Lurleen and Jer Wayne, Trailer Trash Dolls Lurleen, Trailer Trash Doll Lurleen and Jer Wayne, Trailer Trash Dolls Jer Wayne, Trailer Trash Doll

Examples of Student Works

Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture Found Object Sculpture

Project Description

Objective: Create an artwork using one or more deconstructed (recontextualized) found objects.

Materials: One or more found object(s) with a well-established meaning in North American culture. Any materials necessary to embellish or modify the object(s). Any accessories needed to present or exhibit the object.

Procedure:

Step 1 – Find and then alter a found object to expose the underlying assumptions, values and expectations that are attached to it.

Step 2 – Write a paragraph that supports your idea. Explain the history and cultural context of the object you've chosen. Your paragraph should answer the following questions:

Step 3 – Present your work to the class with a short presentation.

To get a good mark, your finished work must exhibit a comprehensive understanding of the Compositional Principles of Emphasis, Variety and Unity. The more transparent your thesis, the higher your mark (i.e., the issue or concept that you have chosen is well-presented in the finished work and does not require a lengthy explanation). Your work will also show that you have attended to the details of creating a well-finished work that is clean and free of defects.

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© 2016, Terry Reynoldson