Friday, January 20, 2012

Something Fishy


Perhaps it is that I just got back from spending some time in Hawaii and doing a bit of whale watching, snorkeling and getting thrashed around by waves....but the very first piece I created once back from a holiday by the sea was a piece devoted to Ahab and the Whale.
I should start off by mentioning that my top five books of all time (in no particular order) are: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the Tempest by William Shakespeare, and Moby Dick by Hermann Melville.   Interestingly all three plots are nautical tales, (perhaps its my water sign showing through).  
Heart of Darkness is a journey up river in the dense African jungle (Apocalypse Now was based on this story). 


 The Tempest takes place on a remote and mystical island which starts off with a ship being thrashed around and ultimately sunk.  My favorite quote comes from this play: 
Full fathom five thy Father lies,
Of his bones are Corrall made:
Those are pearles that were his eies,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a Sea-change
Into something rich & strange
Sea-Nymphs hourly ring his knell.
Harke now I heare them, ding-dong, bell. 



Last but not least on the list is truly an amazing novel (and a pretty awesome movie).  Moby Dick, was source of middle school snickers, but when I finally read it I was amazed.  First off I need to mention that you need a version with really good footnotes.  Second off you need to read the footnotes, because I am unaware of any novel as dense in symbolism and metaphor as this one. At the heart of the story is the infamous Ahab.  Leg missing and scarred from a tussle with an albino sperm whale.  His ultimate quest, to kill his attacker not matter the cost...be it his own or the lives of others.  A single vision.  A single purpose.


Ahab is the anti-Jonah.  Jonah was swallowed by a whale/leviathan as means to persuade him to do the will of God.  Ahab on the other hand was chewed up by a whale and spit out only to become dark obsessed, vengeful and self absorbed.  In both cases the sea creature symbolizes a rebirth;  Jonah purified, Ahab putrified.    In both cases the each man's life is totally transformed by the encounter; the Leviathan is etched into their soul for good or for bad.

Now to my interpretation of the complex Ahab/Moby relationship.

"Something I Ate"
Mixed media, 18" x 6" x 4"
I've been very interested in puppetry as of late, so it should be no surprise if Ahab popped in and out of the whales mouth.  For those who need a bit of video to demonstrate:


As usual the piece is made from various  flotsam and jetsam, as well as a fair amount of one of my favorite materials: Ave's Apoxy Clay to mold a cupie doll into Ahab.
As for the old whale...he too, is a bunch of Apoxie Clay



But that's not all...
I left the best for last...
The whale was made out of something other than clay.  Any ideas?
Here's a hint:
Perhaps a different perspective will help.

Scroll down for the answer
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It's amazing what a little clay can do.
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9 comments:

HeArt Collective said...

its amazing what a MIND will do... i mean, really! who sees a dutch clog and thinks Moby Dick?

Awesome and amazing stuff, Mister!

AnnetteD said...

Michael that is awesome and I too love Moby Dick (book and Greg Peck!)

cathy norris said...

Wonderful transformation! And with respect to footnotes - ditto anything written by Joyce....

Robin said...

purified and putrified--the ultimate dichotomy. And with the presence of God... can't get away from that.

LOVE the details of the whale--had no idea a clog could be so versatile.

Rich and strange indeed...

Luthien said...

that's amazing Michael :) clay is such a versatile medium if you know what to do with it :) i love it!

yoborobo said...

Your brain is an amazing place.

Karen Cole said...

The master of metamorphosis at work. Kafka has nothing on you.

Thespoena McLaughlin said...

That shoe never looked so good...he he he. Great story telling!

Debs said...

totally WILD!