Future Device

Perhaps existing somewhere now or in the future, I can imagine a device invented which will measure the caliber of energy inherent in an object. The device might perform this by measuring the dynamic range and density ratio of informed concentrated energy per physical matter within the object. Thus substantiating the quality of intent and the intrinsic frequency of that object. Human beings already have this ability that we generally utilize subconsciously. We know, for example, when something is well crafted and strikingly present. We also recognize when there is emotional and cerebral inspiration imbued in a vast variety of expressions that we see, hear, taste, and feel. Besides my ongoing practice in sculpture, and additionally through countless moments and observations in life, there are two instances that I remember as highly impressionable experiences, which offer vignettes towards this idea specifically concerning energy within objects.

In July of 1978, when I was three years and eight months old, my mother was in the hospital giving birth to my sister, Juliet. Due to a cesarean section birth and to the fact that I contracted a case of the flu while my mom was away, it was the doctor’s orders that my mother’s hospital stay be ten days. Before she left, without knowing the duration of her hospital visit, my mom prepared exactly ten toys for me to unwrap every morning when I woke up. In recently recounting the story, I learned that my parents told me at the time, that these gifts were from my little sister, yet my memory of them was always that my mother left them for me. I distinctly remember waking up one morning, as my father got dressed for the day, with my attention focused on a present that sat on top of a low dresser of drawers positioned across from the foot of my parents’ bed underneath a set of windows. This gift was wrapped in bright glossy white paper covered with a confetti design in playful colors spaced throughout. The windows were open with the leafy green trees outside, and I connected the morning’s fresh summer smells to my visual and tactile experience of the wrapping paper. As I began peeling the paper away, my excitement grew to an electric current; this was an R2-D2 action figure, and it looked amazing through the acetate shell holding it to the backing card. Beyond my elated surprise, I felt loved and cared for. I could feel my mother’s energy through the wrapping paper and into the toy. I looked up outside through the window and I sensed her around me.

In October of 1994, with a seemingly hallucinogenic fever, I laid sick in my high school bedroom in my mother’s house in upstate New York. That semester I was not enrolled in college after completing my first year at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts earlier in the spring. I had grown disillusioned in struggling to define a true functionality of visual art for myself, and in the process I drifted back home. Within my bedroom, the accumulated layers of my emerging identity from the previous seven years had reached full expression and I was cocooned amongst the collections, posters, magazine clippings, books, music and artwork of my young adulthood. In one corner of the room, diagonally across from my bed, stood a collection of large cardboard cut-out figures from retail advertising displays; such as a larger than life size Santa Claus posed with a giant bottle of Coca-Cola, complete with Christmas lights strung in the back to shine through the many holes in the bottle. Among others, I also had a large cardboard display of Marvel Comic’s character The Punisher, drawn by Jim Lee, holding an M-16 with ferocious gunfire blasting out. In front of these displays, I placed a figure sculpture that I had made while at the Museum School. It stood about three feet tall; the legs and torso were primarily rectangular and totem-like, with a magenta polar fleece fabric glued around it as clothing, these coveralls led up to a turtleneck collar, out of which sprouted a light blue colored neck, supporting a large light blue colored bald head, belonging to a cheerful extraterrestrial looking boy that I had carved. That night I was particularly obsessive in my thoughts, as I laid in bed feeling restless and exhausted from the virus that I was fighting; I couldn’t sleep and non-linear processes were coursing through my head. With this fever, in the dark, with only strands of moonlight filtering into the room, I glanced over at the corner to where my displays and sculpture stood, and to my amazement and delight, the sculpture had a faint but shimmering aura glowing around it, while the displays remained in dead light in the dark. Suddenly I had the beginning of an answer to the functionality of visual art that I was searching for.

Josh Nusbaum, July 2015.