Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Connected Art (Final Draft)

All forms of artwork are a made for humans as a form of enjoyment by viewing them. Many people believe that artwork is only present in museums. There are several forms of artwork that people can not seem to grasp, so they simply dismiss it as useless. At Clemson University many different forms of art simply seem to go unnoticed by the students and members of the community. One of these unnoticed forms of art is a single structure that resembles a silo. It is located just outside of Barre Hall on Campus and even corresponds to a book in Cooper Library that also goes unnoticed.

This piece of art work is one that offers the viewer more than just a blank stare. When any person ventures to examine this mysterious structure, they seem to build a connection with the artist. If a viewer does take this initiative the art form will give an incentive to understand it's meaning. Artwork such as this is more thought provoking than any other form of art, since it demands the viewer to make several connections and interpret the specific meaning of signs.

The first half of this complex piece of artwork is the silo structure that blends in with similar types of architecture on campus. Many students have seen the silo but very few have taken the time to try to understand what it represents. Some of its most prominent features include the bronze roof that features a interesting lattice of steel work, two interior benches, two entrances that are opposite of each other and perhaps the most important, a bronze plate in the center of the floor that has the words “REF P211.T45 COOPER” written on it. All of these characteristics play a crucial role in the meaning of the artwork, however the one item that connects the first half with the second is the call number. This number on the bronze plate directs the viewer to Cooper Library, to find a book located in the reference section.

In between all the book shelves in Cooper Library lies a single book that has been placed on the shelf for one reason only, to serve as a connection between the mysterious silo on campus. The call number P211 T.45 will direct a viewer to an average sized black book that simply has its call number printed on the front cover. On one of the first few pages of the book there is a reference to the silo location on campus. There are only a few words in the beginning and end of the book that include “field and join”. The book has several mind boggling characteristics such as pages that appear and feel to have dirt rubbed on them. In the front and back of the book on two different pages there is a shape that contains many lines inside two circles. On the last two pages there appears to be a watermark on the paper that can only be seen when it is help up to the light. One other peculiar characteristic of the book is its location in the library. The books that surround its small spot on the shelf in the reference section are all about the history of writing. When the call number is searched in the library catalog, the genres that appear are: crosshatching, fossil poetry, origin of writing and latent grammatical constructions. Perhaps the most creative aspect of the little black book is the attached sign in sheet that is on the back cover which contains hundreds of names and dates of all the people who have read the book. What could all of these signs and connections possibly mean?

The author David Tillinghast, must have put a lot of thought into the appearance and theme of the silo structure that was constructed in 2001. In order for the purpose of the artwork to be exposed, the individual viewer has to take the time to enter the interesting structure to observe the connecting clue. The silo’s location on campus must have been picked very carefully. In the morning hours of the day the silo’s shadow points into the direction of the library. When the person inside the silo notices and position's them self to read the bronze plaque on the floor, they are automatically aligned in the direction of the library. The author David Tillinghast, who designed the silo made sure that the dimensions of it were correctly scaled with the actual structures that are used in the real world. While some of the obvious characteristics seem to jump out at the viewer, the artist did not want the silo structure to look out of place on campus. The architecture style of the silo is similar to several other buildings around campus. Since Tillinghast decided to place benches inside the silo, he wanted it to serve the public as other purposes than just a form of art.

The second half of this artwork has an even deeper meaning than the silo. When the little black book is pulled off the shelf it looks like a scene straight out of a movie. The book appears to be so secretive and unknown due to its location in the middle of the reference section, which has nothing to do with any kind of art form. The entire book is filled with rich black and white images of weeds and bristles. This is obviously directly connected with the meaning of the silo. On the last few pages of the book there are several watermarks that could be interpreted to represent something very important. The watermark had the words "Cranes Crest" printed in it. This is actually a companies watermark that manufactures the paper that was used in the book. The paper is also 100% cotton. Was the author trying to link the cotton industry with agriculture. In the beginning and end of the book there are several brown pages that appear to be covered with dirt. This may have been used by the author to show that grain can only be prosperous if it has dirt and healthy soil all around it. The shapes that appear in the front and back of the book also allude to the silo structure. In the roof of the silo the supporting metal work is in the exact same shape as that of the ones printed in the book. Since Tillinghast is respected enough by the University to build a silo on campus, he must have had the privilege to be able to decide the placement of his book in the library. Why did he choose the “history of writing” section in the reference area? Perhaps he wanted to emphasize that writing along with agriculture were closely related, since they improved the life of human kind so much. One other major point that needs to be analyzed is the presence of all the weeds printed on the pages of the book. These black and white images represent wildness and abandonment. These two characteristics are completely opposite of what agriculture strives to prefect. This juxtaposition is a creative one that the author uses to connect the two parts of his art. The book full of weeds is also carefully placed within an institution that strives for order and structure just like agriculture. The last attribute of the book that is noticed by the reader is a sheet of paper that is attached to the back cover of the book. Tillinghast gave instructions for anyone who read the book to sign their name and record the date. Tillinghast must have wanted to place this sheet here to see how many people would actually discover the connection between the silo and the book. Although the book might offer a deeper explanation of the meaning of the artwork, it is not necessarily the most important aspect of this connected form of art.

The combination of these two well planned and thought out components make a wonderful and complex form or artwork that can never be appreciated by visiting a museum. Tillinghast made a new and innovative effort to make art something much more than just a painting hanging on a wall. He pushed the limits and created a work of art that will always be interconnected with Clemson University in more ways than one. This connected art form illustrates many different points that Tillinghast wanted to emphasize in a complex and successful way.


Black and white image of weeds:

Tillinghast, David. "P211 t.45" Seneca, SC : Kelley Mill Publishing Co., 2001

Black and white image of two circles:

Tillinghast, David. "P211 t.45" Seneca, SC : Kelley Mill Publishing Co., 2001

Cranes Crest