Monday 2 August 2021

Picture Post #66 What a Can Can Do

'Because things don’t appear to be the known thing; they aren’t what they seemed to be
neither will they become what they might appear to become.'

Posted by Tessa den Uyl

Malaga, Spain  2021

Unlike randomly dropped trash, this Coca Cola can seems to have been placed in cardinal Ángel Herrera Oria's hand very carefully. Tiny gestures, what thoughts do they provoke? The photo seems to conjure up three phases in time:

  • Materially, the alloy metal of the bronze statue and the aluminium can link together. The originally clay molded figure reveals striped structures on the cloak of the statueand somehow striped movements are very human gestures indeed. These connect to the stripes of the bar code on the industrial can.  
  • The deformed horizontally placed can offers more dynamism to the inclined direction of the Cardinal’s hand. The sky, a stone church in the background, the bronze statue, the can and the bar code together offer a kind of idea about a tangible timeline. So far, we can follow it.
  • But lately, when thinking of algorithms, or something like crypto currencies, digital data creates ‘new images’ which are mostly only comprehensible to programmers, and for a vast majority of people remain invisible. No tiny tangible innocent gestures can interfere there, and perhaps we’ve come to the time in which: what a can, cannot do…


Keith said...

Actually, my take on the statue and can is far simpler and more mundane than what’s described here. I see it as an attempt at mere whimsical humour by someone who crushed the can in his own hand and then mischievously placed the misshapen can in the hand of the statue, as if the cardinal-cum-statue had been the culprit.

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

This post certainly had me thinking. Changes in material culture were once visible, traceable. Now, they arguably are not, and any trademark human presence may not be found. Alternatively, it may be found in very different form.

docmartincohen said...

To be honest, the position of the can leaves me thinking that the "gesture" really required the coke cn to be standing up (ready to drink) and that this is less carefully placed than hastily placed. That said, there does seem to be sort of interaction between the two icons, the cheeky commercialism of one deflating the earnest gaze of the other.

Perhaps we should note tht the coke can is crushed, as in "used" and empty. I recall the artist Paula Crown made living from the psychological significance of such "crushed cans" (or cups). As she says in an 'artist statement' on her website:

'It all begins with a mark. A mark that is informed by where we are, what material we hold, and how we exist in the world. Mark making creates an index of experience, where sensory input is translated through the hand, and art becomes thought manifested.'

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