Some Background Thoughts about project A Drum/A Gallery
Rigorous Jelly Bean mentality.
I've made three drum kits now in which all drums are different, so called jelly bean kits. For me this feels totally natural; as I am originally an artist (painter/sculptor) and not a productdesigner, technician, machinist or a musical instrument maker, it is a small step for me to look at making a drumset as making a collection of objects in which I can play with color, visual rhythm and a theme I call rule and deviation. As I made three drumsets following this idea (progressively radical in their execution), and as I got a lot of positive reaction to these drumsets, I got more confident about my painterly and sculptural approach. As this confidence grew I slowly started noticing something; every time I made a new drum, I was constantly making 6, 8 or 10 identical objects: the lugs. It was only a matter of time before it hit me: Why on earth would I do it like that? Why not make 6, 8, 10 different lugs for one drum? (Of course, from an economic point of view you save a lot of time making quantities, but that's not the point now). In the drum called Play (see picture), I tried this, and it worked out really well. The current project will take this idea a drastic step further, because there will be no binding concept between the lugs like there was between the lugs in Play (in this drum each lug was made of two colored wooden toy blocks and a tube). I am absolutely insecure: will the total drum look and feel like a unity?
From when I started art-school I have been intrigued by what can happen (visually and conceptually) when you combine two or more things (objects, colors, visual rhythm, textures, meaningful images, etc.). Combining has been central to all my making and I recently wrote a text about it ("Time and Coincidence, two of Artists Best Friends", click here to read it). I am not quite sure what keeps fascinating me about it, but I guess it has to do with integration and transformation. Thing A breaks into the space of thing B and vice versa. They kind of "open up" each others integrity, each transforming from a thing into a part. And sometimes, with some luck and in a highly unpredictable way, these parts integrate into a meaningful story together. I view this story as a new integrity, that is "more than the sum of its parts".
Over the years in my private life and in my professional life I found out about a similar phenomenon on a psychological level. Especially in psychodynamic psychology, integration is an important concept. To give a simple example: I can feel alternately or simultaneously angry and sad (two separate feelings) when I feel I am loosing something or someone precious. Loss is the concept that integrates the two feelings, I am angry that something is taken away from me, I am sad because it isn't there anymore. An ever present over-all goal in therapy is integration of non-integrated parts or experiences. I am lucky to have experienced this myself, and from this experience I can say it is a truly healing process that brings peace of mind and that helps to truly understand myself and the world around me a little better. The exact moment integration takes place there is some mind-blowing going on: "Ahaaaa!". The mind truly expands then, and this, for me personally, strongly resembles what I experience when, for example, two objects come together and create a new story or reality.
What drives me in making art (in whatever form) is not so much expression of personal content (for example: "This painting expresses fear about a possibly upcoming apocalypse."), but first of all to be deeply involved in processes of combining, transforming and integrating and secondly to put something in the world that shows this process in an open and transparent way. It's in my heart and I want it to be in the world too. This last drive has consequences for how I work: I view perfection as absolute death and I avoid it as much as possible*. The things that constitute the work should remain recognizable, they should, so to say, be on the brink of de-integration, so there is tension: thing A and thing B "open up" each other but also want to remain themselves. Works (paintings, sculptures, my drums) need this tension to show the process of integration instead of (just) being an end result of such a process. A mere end-result would just be a thing C on its own. To explain it a bit more and in an other way; the complete opposite of how I think it should be done would be to (methaphorically speaking) grind thing A and thing B into pulp, mix these two into a new homogenous pulp and sculpt an object out of it (or cast, or 3D-print, etc.).
This is why in my drums I try to keep things as they
are as much as possible. I want the wood to really be wood, the steel to really be steel, for example. So no polished 9 layers thick finish of laquer for me, no chrome-plating, etc. That's a start of keeping the tension in the work. In the current project, however, I will try to bring this to a much more extreme level; the hardware consists of exciting assembled sculptures made from "things" in which the "things" are still there, but in which also there is a "thing-trancending" quality.
*: Please note that I take great care into a perfect construction of the drum. It is durable, round, has good edges, sounds terrific etc. My claim is not about structural quality, but design/artistic/conceptual quality.
Added are a few pictures of works by Anton Reijnders, an artist I hold very dear. These works perfectly are expressions of the dynamics I am talking about, better than my own works. For more information about Anton's work, please visit his beautiful website: https://antonreijnders.nl/