It’s all limbs and links in the studio at the moment as I assemble Amelioration. This is the second construction in my Automata series which is based on explorations into making the inanimate animate. Each automaton is a mixed media construction consisting mainly of paper, wood, and doll parts. The artwork is designed to be interactive through a system of gears and handles. The first artwork, The Message, can be seen by clicking here.
I feel completely comfortable in dismembering dolls since I do not see them as representative of real bodies. They are lifeless moulds of plastic which are loosely based on the human form but which rarely mimic it in any realistic way. Toy companies have been blasted over the years for not making their dolls based on real body proportions but I’ve never seen them as representative of anything realistic. Many adults see dolls as toys designed to explore gender and ambition in children but I never saw dolls in this way when I was small. Little me figured longer legs were designed to make it easier for me to get my little hands around so that it was convenient for me to carry. Just like little me reasoned that dolls with no private parts were because they were too difficult to mold from the plastic. The rational version of me with all its logic and scientific inquiry was there from a very early age. I was rarely swayed by superficial ideas on what society felt I should be because I was too busy just being me; the best me that I could be with all the me that I had available at the time.
I liked telling stories using dolls and I used teddy bears and toy animals in much the same way. I never identified with any of these in a wish-fulfillment kind of a way and none of these small artificial constructions represented my ideas on my own corporeal status. I didn’t want to be Barbie any more than I wanted to be a small green polyester frog. These were just tools with which I explored social interactions with my peers through role play with these inanimate objects. I did not believe any dolls were something representative of my own human condition or something to base my aspirations on.
I find it strange then that others see dismembering a plastic molded toy as anathema and I like the idea of playing with other people’s unease around this subject. I am interested in how my reconstructions of this toy will divide opinion and create discomfort in others. I am interested to see how they relate to the Automata that I’m creating based on their own pre-formed identification with these lifeless things.