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Untitled (Eggbeater / Screwdriver) #2
playful art, pop art influence, conceptual art influence, form and function in art, form and function, sculptural form, making the familiar strange, creativity, juxtaposition, non-functional artwork, specialized tools understanding a sculpture, function and form, irony, ivory, perceptions, playful artists, playful artwork, gender roles, roles in society, changing roles in society, blurring gender lines, careers,surrealism, screwdriver, eggbeater, object combination, tools, kitchen equipment, carpenter equipment,
description

As stated in the Art Gallery of Regina  catalogueA list which is an inventory of works in a gallery, museum, or other collection. It describes the works, and may contain articles discussing their history, and classifying them in other ways. It may be in the form of a file of cards (or an electronic equivalent), one card for each object, or in the form of a publication (usually a pamphlet or book), whether for a special exhibition or for all or part of a permanent collection.  (Artlex.com)  entitled Ryan Arnott: Jump, “Regina artist Ryan Arnott takes a playfully serious approach to art. With roots in prairie landscape and an interest in pop and conceptual art, he creates thought provoking images and objects in a variety of materials.” (2003)

start quote But I think that is part of it - is the sense of awe at the world around us. end quote -- Ryan Arnott

In the work shown here, Arnott’s interest in  dadaismAn anti-war/anti-art art movement that developed in Europe between 1910 and 1920. Artists challenged previous art traditions and any sense of logic to present often contradictory and challenging images.  and  surrealismAn art movement in the early 20th century based on dreams, and the subconscious, and the distortion of representations.  is evident as he combines two familiar objects from his personal environment into one object. As writer Jack Anderson wrote in a 2001 review, “[c]onfusing  formIn its widest sense, total structure; a synthesis of all the visible aspects of that structure and of the manner in which they are united to create its distinctive character. The form of a work is what enables us to perceive it. Form also refers to an element of art that is three-dimensional (height, width, and depth) and encloses volume. For example, a triangle, which is two-dimensional, is a shape, but a pyramid, which is three-dimensional, is a form. Cubes, spheres, ovoids, pyramids, cone, and cylinders are examples of various forms. Also, all of the elements of a work of art independent of their meaning. Formal elements are primary features which are not a matter of semantic significance — including colour, dimensions, line, mass, medium, scale, shape, space, texture, value; and the principles of design under which they are placed — including balance, contrast, dominance, harmony, movement, proportion, proximity, rhythm, similarity, unity, and variety. (Artlex.com)  and  functionRefers to the intended use or purpose of an object. The term is often applied to manufactured products, particularly crafts, and when discussing designs for architecture. Though sometimes said to be non-functional, art is expected to function in various ways, including: to beautify, to adorn, to express, to illustrate, to mediate, to persuade, to record, to redefine reality, to redefine art, to provide therapy, to give unselfconscious experience, to provide paradigms of order and/or chaos, and to train perception of reality. Anything that is not functional is called nonfunctional. Often the decorative qualities of a thing are considered nonfunctional. (Artlex.com)  while referencing early  dadaAn anti-war/anti-art art movement that developed in Europe between 1910 and 1920. Artists challenged previous art traditions and any sense of logic to present often contradictory and challenging images.  and  surrealistSurrealism is an art movement in the early 20th century based on dreams, and the subconscious, and the distortion of representations.  artists like Meret Oppenheim and René Magritte, Arnott wittingly deconstructs our social selves by dismantling  contemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (Artlex.com)  orthodoxies.” (Anderson, 2001)

In this piece, Arnott uses the handle of a screwdriver and the blade of an eggbeater. Each tool has traditionally been associated with a gender: the screwdriver with the male gender, and the eggbeater with the female gender. Arnott juxtaposes the two to produce a  hybridProduced from the mixture of two or more things.  tool that could suggest the union of a male and female. This  androgynousUniting both sexes in one, or having the characteristics of both; being in nature both male and female; hermaphroditic. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  tool could also suggest the changing of roles within society where more and more gender lines are being blurred and where opportunities now exist for girls to become plumbers and electricians, and for boys to become flight attendants and caregivers.

Art

Examining the role of each tool, we know that a screwdriver is used to fasten an object firmly to another, while an egg beater is used to destroy an egg yolk and break it up into small parts, each tool using a rotating action. Arnott’s newly combined object/tool, however, has no specialization and is now virtually useless. But as Arnott states in an interview with art  curatorAn individual or group, who conceives an idea for an art exhibition, selects the art works, plans how they will be displayed and writes accompanying supporting materials for the ideas presented. A curator can work freelance or be affiliated with a gallery, and serves as the link between artists and gallery.  Cindy Richmond, “[t]he most interesting things about these works is that they are still  functionalRefers to the intended use or purpose of an object. The term is often applied to manufactured products, particularly crafts, and when discussing designs for architecture. Though sometimes said to be non-functional, art is expected to function in various ways, including: to beautify, to adorn, to express, to illustrate, to mediate, to persuade, to record, to redefine reality, to redefine art, to provide therapy, to give unselfconscious experience, to provide paradigms of order and/or chaos, and to train perception of reality. Anything that is not functional is called nonfunctional. Often the decorative qualities of a thing are considered nonfunctional. (Artlex.com)  in an odd, quirky way. They are physically movable, you can hold them, you can use them to crush things, probably cut things, yet at the same time you have got this unique object which is in a sense a marriage of two things that have been brought together.” (Richmond, 1989)

Other works of Arnott’s in the MacKenzie Art Gallery  collectionTo collect is to accumulate objects. A collection is an accumulation of objects. A collector is a person who makes a collection. (Artlex.com)  include a  varietyPrinciple of design concerned with difference or contrasts.  of  IvoryTusks or teeth of mammals, especially those from elephants, walrus, hippopotamus, and whale; or the smooth, hard, yellowish-white material of which they consist; or a thing made of ivory. May also refer to the color of ivory, a pale grayish yellow to yellowish white. Because so many tusk producing animals are endangered species, it is unethical to purchase, use, or sell contemporary ivory. There are synthetic materials which appear nearly identical to ivory.  (Artlex.com)  soap bars produced using a variety of materials such as gold, ebony, bronze, etc. Each has the name of the soap etched into the surface, but Arnott makes a slight change to the spelling while the appearance of the lettering remains the same. For example, he changes the ‘v’ in  ivoryTusks or teeth of mammals, especially those from elephants, walrus, hippopotamus, and whale; or the smooth, hard, yellowish-white material of which they consist; or a thing made of ivory. May also refer to the color of ivory, a pale grayish yellow to yellowish white. Because so many tusk producing animals are endangered species, it is unethical to purchase, use, or sell contemporary ivory. There are synthetic materials which appear nearly identical to ivory.  (Artlex.com)  to an ‘r’, and the ‘r’ to an ‘n’, to produce the word irony which is often associated with something humorous, based on an opposite. He is having fun with language and art and our perceptions and understandings in art.

additional resources Brush Flowers and Letter Shakers
Duration: 1:33 min
Size: 6550kb
Drawings of His Conceptual Art
Duration: 1:35 min
Size: 6769kb
Hammer Broom
Duration: 2:02 min
Size: 8594kb
The Sense of Awe at the World Around Us
Duration: 2:40 min
Size: 11190kb
Untitled (Egg Beater-Screwdriver #2)
Duration: 2:25 min
Size: 10087kb
Things to Think About
  • Can you think of other reasons to explain why Arnott combined these two objects (the eggbeater and the screwdriver)?

  • Can you find an object in your surroundings that is not what its name suggests?  Can you create a new name for an object by changing a letter or two in the name?

  • Can you describe other objects that could be combined to provide a playful comment, or pose a question

  • Writer Jackie Lay says of Arnott that, “he views art ‘as a higher order’ of thinking.  Over the years, he’s allowed his creativity to take him where the art leads him as opposed to commercializing his art for success.” (Lay, 2003)  Reflect on commercialism and how the arts and artists are influenced by it.

  • What do you think is important in art?  Why do some artworks last, while others appear to become less important?
Advanced Activity

Arnott could be classified in a number of artistic styles such as pop art, conceptual art, surrealism, dadaism, and minimalism. Here are some websites to help you explore these styles:

Pop art

Conceptual art

Surrealism

Dada (Dada or Dadaism: French, from dada, child's word for a horse)

Minimalism

Do some research on each of these styles of art making and make a case for why you think Arnott’s work fits into each category.

Online Activity
Hello, you either have JavaScript turned off or an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.

Click on the shape icon to choose and place shapes in the drawing window.

Close the shapes window and then move the shapes you have chosen around in a variety of ways to create a new object or invention.

Studio Activity

Create your own  hybridProduced from the mixture of two or more things. 

  • Give the new object a title blending the names of the objects in some way.  For example, if you were combining a crocodile and a tin can, call it something like ’Tanicroc’ or a ‘Tincrocan‘ (or crocan, or tinodile, or dile-a-tin).
  • Do you think this new object of yours has a purpose or could have a function?  What would it be?

Write an imaginary story

  • Write an imaginary story about the creation of Arnott’s tool (seen again here) and its use.

Invention

  • Arnott’s work is about ideas and, in the case of the work presented here, looking at old objects in new ways.  This is how many new discoveries are made, like the invention of Velcro where idea of a burr seed sticking to the fur of an animal became the inspiration for the product.
  • Look to nature and the environment to gather ideas for a new invention.
  • To do this inventing, you may wish to begin by asking yourself the following kinds of questions:  What is missing?  What is there too much of? What could I combine, or substitute?  What could I make larger or miniaturize? What could I rearrange?  What could I adapt?  What could be modified on something that already exists? Could I reverse or rearrange something?

Language and image creation

  • Use language as a starting point in the production of an image.
  • Explore puns, or words and sayings that could have other meanings.  Some example might be words like rainbow, running shoes, bomber jacket, sweater coat, etc.

Explore  dadaAn anti-war/anti-art art movement that developed in Europe between 1910 and 1920. Artists challenged previous art traditions and any sense of logic to present often contradictory and challenging images.  art

[u]sing humour, shock tactics and unfettered imagination, they redefined art so that it could include whatever the artists chose to do. The debris of life, simple activities, an idea- everything became potential material for the artist to manipulate. While a pervasive sense of humour informed their work, rather than being against art, they were serious about expanding the role of art in society.

References

Anderson, Jack.  ‘Artists Create Their Own Space.’  Regina Leader Post, Wednesday, April 11, 2001.

Anderson, Jack.  ‘Changing a Perception.’  Regina Leader Post, Wednesday, May 28, 2003.

Lay, Jackie.  ‘His Art Has a Funny Side.’  Regina Community News, February 23, 2003.

McKaskell, Robert.  Canadian Neo-Dada.  Exhibition catalogue.  Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, 2000.

Moppett, George.  The Object as Subject.  Exhibition catalogue.  Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1991.

Richmond, Cindy.  smALL MATTERS, Ryan Arnott: Artists with Their Work.  Interviews, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, 1989.

Thompson, David.  Art and Life: Black and White and Read All Over.  Exhibition catalogue.  Rosemont Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, 2003.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning