"And furthermore..." takes a closer look at subjects touched on in the Metal Arts Guild MAGazine. Please leave your comments, questions and suggestions below - MAGC website aims to be interactive and responsive to Canadian metal artists and their admirers.Posting those beautiful images of the winning entries for the Metal Arts Guild Exhibition in Print 2011, and then reading the artists' statements (in the Dec 2011 issue of MAGazine) about the contexts and inspirations for the pieces left me impressed and intrigued. Never one to leave a stone unturned or a philosophy unquestioned, I hammered off a slew of questions which had been brought to mind by Claudio Pino's discussion of his entry, Tactus, and sent them off into the ether. Many thanks to Claudio for so generously and thoughtfully responding (and of course, raising more questions...) (and to the other Larger than Life winners: heads up - I'm coming for you!) Sue Whalen, MAGC website volunteer
MAGC: In discussing your work in the Dec 2011 issue of MAGC MAGazine, you said: “The sensation of touch has been amplified over the centuries, especially through the influence of digital culture.” What are your thoughts on the amplification of touch over time? What do you mean by digital culture, and how does that relate touch?
Claudio Pino: Recently, I was reading on the senses and more precisely on anthropology of the senses. I was fascinated to learn how senses are culturally constructed and how our reception through the senses evolves over time. We are living in a digital age, within a digital culture, which has quickly evolved since the 1970s. Today more than ever, we are surrounded bytactile screens, where images can be moved, placed and deleted with the twist of fingers touch. Spending hours in front of screens, people in our society are slowly doing less manual physical work. It is also said that our skin is getting softer and much more delicate. In consequence, we could say there is an augmented sensibility that our fingers can perceive. Furthermore, there is a digital transformation, which, according to Wikipedia, refers to all “the changes associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society.” When I created the Tactus ring design, I was reflecting on those direct and long-term effects and their impacts while questioning on the important role of touch in today’s culture.
MAGC: We see some amazing armour in museum collections around the world - do you have any thoughts on why so much artistry beyond the functional purpose was put into these items, and does that reflect in any way on how you see or approach your work?
Claudio Pino: Although they depend on the period and origin of armour, artistic details are often purely symbolic and hence functional. They tell stories and represent power, strength, courage, and royalty, evoking meanings and authority. Last November, I spent hours in the Japanese crafts section at the V&A Museum, viewing arms and samurai armourfrom the Edo period. I was amazed by how powerful and imposing these designs were visually. Each artistic detail on these armour pieces was definitely there for a precise reason, and their impact was unbelievable. In the case of the Tactus ring, I selected each element of the design in relation to the theme I was exploring. Somehow, the artistry aspect of the design also becomes functional.
MAGC: Do you see any corollaries between embellishments on functional objects today and the embelishment of armour (or other functional objects) in past times?
Claudio Pino: During the Middle Ages, artists and designers were considered simply as masters of their art—craftsmen. They did not have the freedom we do today. In the past, embellishment on functional objects was often associated with symbols of kingdom, identity and institutions. Today artists are free to explore any thematic subject they want and fuse together any possible directions of expression.
MAGC: From a technical point of view, can you point to places in your work where you use the same methods, tools, materials as an armour-maker of old might have used? Also where new techniques and tools are used to achieve a similar end by different means?
Claudio Pino: Although inspired by gothic plate armor, the Tactus ring is a jewellery not an armor. That said, it do shares a few similarities in the techniques, methods and tools that were used by armour makers in the past. Constructed piece by piece, I used ancestral techniques, such as forging with a hammer, and made some rivets for the hinged parts of the design. However, I am also working with an oxygen and propane torch as well as a rolling mill machine to transform and give texture to the metal.
TACTUS by Claudio Pino
MAGC: Why do rings in particular interest you, both in history, and in your own work?
Claudio Pino: Rings are extremely important in the history of jewellery and have always fascinated me. As symbols of love, representations of victories and demonstrations of power, rings are the most personal and evocative pieces of jewellery as emphasized by Rachel Church in her book, Rings.
Well, rings can also be worn as protective talismans or simply as beautiful precious accessories. Having a gem connected to one’s own body movements and having it associated with one’s personal appearance is alone an interesting subject of investigation.
MAGC: Much of your work is kinetic. What about that appeals to you as a maker, and artistically; and why do you think it appeals to the public?
Claudio Pino: My artistic interests have been drawn to the personal relationships people have with the jewelry they wear. Sometimes, I had meticulous mechanisms that gave the stone set the freedom to follow the owner’s movements, reflecting them in many small, intricate ways. The kinetic aspect of my design enhances continuous shifting light along with an interplay of colors, shadow and depth while creating a direct physical interaction with the wearer. In fact, it has evolved from a ring I had, which featured a beautiful Australian fire opal. I was trying to find a way to show how beautiful the stone was while moving. I wanted to show everyone all the different bright blue and purple flake firefalls that the opal could offer. Thus I created my first small mechanism where the stone was always facing the owners.
A few years later, I designed Magnificence Stellaire, a kinetic ring that represents a celestial system in motion. It was inspired by the immensity of the starry sky in the farthest reaches of the northern hemisphere—a sky that unifies us. The central stone, a black opal, portrays the aurora borealis with colorful and turbulent wisps of air in the vibrant darkness of the night. The stone rotates 360 degrees in four directions (south, north, west, and east) as the result of a carefully designed and complex mechanism. Magnificence Stellairewas a ring selected to be exhibited at the Canada Guest Pavilion during the 2009 Cheongju International Craft Biennale in South Korea as well as at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver.
Magnificence Stellaire by Claudio Pino
MAGC: In your opinion, how is jewellery changing as the technology changes around us so quickly?
Claudio Pino: In a world of mass production and mass consumption, my rings embody the desire to be unique, distinct, and original. Changes in technology bring effectivity and optimization in production. One-of-a-kind jewellery pieces are becoming even more rare and hence more desired. The role of my work is to make this desire come true.
Classical Beauty by Claudio Pino
MAGC: In terms of what is being created, what the technology brings to (or takes from) makers, how wearers select and relate to what they wear, and any other technical or philosophical perspectives you may have... A new technology called 3D printing or Additive Manufacturing is said to be on the 10 to 20 year horizon for common use both in industry and the home, with desktop-sized 3d printers available for reasonable cost for the average household. Some sources tout this as a revolution on the same scale as the industrial revolution. Jewellery and metal art seem to be a very relevant potential use of this technology. Any thoughts on the potential impact of this technology on the 'future history' of jewellery and metal art?
Claudio Pino: For the wearer, thanks to technology, the cost of jewellery is becoming very competitive and accessible. For the makers, it has pushed the production, the effectivity. That said, I strongly believe that with this consumption phenomenon as well as the individuals’ desire to be unique, one-of-a-kind jewellery will never disappear and technology would be used principally to push further ideas both in the creative process and in the fabrication. 3D printing or Additive Manufacturingis getting every year more accessible, and bring to the jeweler a completely new range of possibilities. Likes any other tool, there are limits of operations and artists’ role is to push further toward innovative applications.
Many thanks to Claudio Pino for answering my questions!
See more of Claudio Pino's work:
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