Red Stripe

The surest way of knowing nothing about life is to try to make one’s self useful.
~ Oscar Wilde

What does it mean to be useful as an object, a person or an artist today?

I have been exploring the idea of usefulness and how it affects both our perception of ourselves and the world around us.

The limitations of the pragmatic or utilitarian view have become a source of humour for me.

I endeavor to make objects that almost work or look like they could work or that have been improved so much that it becomes apparent that they can’t work at all. By creating the expectation of utility in these objects and then denying it, I hope to confound left-brain logic and increase right-brain perception. Use implies motion – which has the potential to expand the work into the space between object and performance –  a virtual performance that takes place in the mind of the viewer.

I have wanted some objects to look like ready-mades and others to look as if they were mass produced. The main strategies I have employed so far when conceiving the objects, sometimes separately and sometimes in combination are;

  1. Attempt to enhance the usefulness of an already useful object to the point where it becomes either useless or less useful than before.
  2. Take objects and materials that are easily recognized as useful in one context and use them in contexts for which they are absurdly inadequate.
  3. Reverse the “form follows function” idea and start by trying to make pleasing or beautiful objects and then go searching for a function for them.



© 2018 Keith Shearsby. All Rights Reserved.