Thomas Martin, Innovations in Wood & Stone:
Final Project 12.14.2009, Eternal LED (4655 )
“General Li Jue and Guo Si thanked the Emperor and led their armies out of the city. Then they ordered Dong Khuo’s corpse recovered. Since only bits of skin and bone could be found, they ordered a sculptor to make a statue of their fallen leader out of fragrant wood. When the work was done, they dressed the statue in royal robes and placed it in a royal coffin.”
classic Chinese Leterature
attributed to Luo Guanzhong
Inspiration : Memorials, esp. Eternal Flames After the assassination of her husband, First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy requested an eternal flame for John F. Kennedy’s gravesite. Colonel Clayton B. Lyle Army engineer had 30hrs. Her request was inspired by:
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and from the “candle in the wind” of Arthurian Legend, and the Broadway Play “Camelot”.
It has also been reported that the first lady told others that the idea “just came into her head.”
On the afternoon of November 25, 1963, Jacqueline Kennedy lit the “Eternal Flame” at JFK’s gravesite in the Arlington National Cemetery. I was seven months old. A lighted taper surrounded by evergreen branches lit the flame which with one exception* has burned ever since as it stands on a mound of granite. John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s brothers, Robert and Ted proudly watched on and symbolically lit the flame in the same manner as their sister-in-law.
In 1967, the paths were paved, and the flame was surrounded by Cape Cod Field Stones and selections from the President’s Inaugural Address were etched on marble panels. The natural gas line fueling and current device was designed and created by the Gas Technology Institute replacing the original. The flame is kept lit via a continuous electric spark which re-ignites it in the elements. It is supplemented constantly with a precise mixture of oxygen to keep the color consistent.
Prior to the JFK commemoration, the only other such flame within the United States is a torch which burns constantly on the battlefield at Gettysburg lit by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938, 75 years after the great civil war battle. In 2009, Ted was buried in proximity to his brothers John and Robert. Eternal flames have also been appropriately used to memorialize fallen firefighters.
Although the “eternal flame concept” resonates well in an historical context, I contend you will never see the burning of natural gas again to honor an American hero unless that memorial is privately funded due to economic and environmental reasons. There are inappropriate, expensive, and vulgar examples at restaurants and casinos across the country. Hackaday.com’s post “War monument hacking” also addresses the “greenness” of eternal flames and suggests instead LED’s or other lamp technology as in my project.
Memorials are artistically challenging. They need to: be simple, make a statement, not offend, be low maintenance, all the while memorializing (of course), commemorating, and make an appropriate statement, be it symbolic or literal. They need to be accessible to the general public as well as the art community. They need to be affordable installations and sometimes portable.
I wanted my piece to use marble like at the Kennedy memorial because I believe the stones beauty. My piece hints to being a memorial but instead is more of a statement about memorials. I wanted some aspects to be kinetic and I wanted to include light in the design.
The quickest part of this project was preparing the mock gravestone carved of marble: curving the top, boring holes for the wiring, and deckling the edges for effect. Apx. Time, 3 hours. Except for the sanding, I found it physically demanding.
Restoration : (or re-purposing of found watthour meter)
Turning the electric meter into something that uses energy (and measures its own usage) rather than measuring the use of another load was mentally challenging, especially since the meters are designed to be tamper proof. I was able to retrofit a small bulb inside the glass dome and had to retrofit and remove some superfluous pieces to do so. I was mindful to actually make the energy use negligible.
Extended range watthour meter (found object),
Sangamo Type J2A
Made by Sangamo Electric Company in USA
2 wire/single phase
60 ohm, kh3
Color: Red Neon
Lamp type: NE61230H
Brightness (MSCP): 150 lux
Bulb Life: >25,000 hrs.
Leads: 22 ga.
To call anything “eternal” is of course optimistic and my “Eternal LED” will need a bulb replacement at some point and will also be subject to power outages at others. The concept here was to combine something which uses energy as a memorial. This piece isn’t dedicated to memorialize anything, it is a commentary about the uses of energy and the uses of stone. Stone reign supreme as the ultimate memorial subject to only acid rain and vandals as are all memorials.
Also in 1963, minimalist Dan Flavin began using commercially available fluorescent lighting (preferred over the showy neon lights) as he worked toward “not simplifying objects for their own sake but reconsidering ideas about sculpture to get to the essence of art. I know in overcomplicating my piece intellectually I failed the former sentiment, I hope that artistically I have achieved the later by considering the ideas about the sculpture as much as the aesthetic.
I am also intrigued by roadside memorials because they: are so emotionally raw, like the Gettysburg Flame, they are placed on location (of death.) They are also controversial as some people are offended by crosses (I love the simplicity of a wodden cross) on state and public property, others think they are a “distracting eyesores” , some feel infringed upon because they don’t want to be reminded of death.
* Apx. Month after the flame was lit, a Catholic school group, rather than sprinkling holy water onto the flame doused it with the water. It was since never been extinguished.
Nothing is eternal, especially a memory
Its after Christmas and before New Years, about 12 degrees and the wind is gusting up to 30+ mph. I took the pup for a walk to the beach,. She hates me.
I've got a sculpture or two I need to photograph and am writing a few stories, currently enthralled with steampunk. You might even see a 3D piece or two in the genre as well.
Anyone else into Steampunk?
High-fired Stoneware w/Bronze Glaze. Donated to: The ANIMAL RESCUE NETWORK OF NEW ENGLAND to be exhibited and auctioned during ART SAVES LIVES, BENEFIT ART AUCTION, Thursday, October 22 at Harris’s Pelham Inn, Pelham, NH. For more information please contact BegleyStudio@MyFairPoint.net or call (603) 882-3227.
When your world shatters like glass, and when you sweep up the pieces, there will be slivers that you miss. Maybe they went farther than expected. Maybe they are underfoot and further underskin. If you are lucky you will find the missing pieces. Words are like that. Especially the written word. But they are harder to take and can hurt more.
Typically, I never look back. when I finish a piece, I'm done with it. I don't care about it, what becomes of it, or what people say about it. It was for me, and I'm over it like a bad break-up.
Its like looking at a train wreck.
My friend keeps speaking of Underworld, I feel I can see it. In these days when each snow storm is measured in feet, I long for the garden, or at least Autumn. I feel like a seed, I feel spring coming. I can feel it. I can feel it.
"Butternut Squash" 2009 tm