Hold on to your butts, people – this isn’t one of my better posts.
A man in New Jersey came to Milwaukee recently to visit family. They ended up at Atwater Park in Shorewood. This stretch of beach is all that separates some impressive bluffs from the waters of Lake Michigan. In September of 2010, it acquired a sculpture called Spillover II created by artist Jaume Plensa.
The sculpture itself is a man in a crouched position staring out to the endless waters of the lake, and is comprised of a jumble of letters welded together.
I think it’s a very interesting piece of work, especially when lit from below.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s a stunning piece of work. One that makes you think. On the very surface of things, you have a hollow man, sitting on twisted legs, staring for all time at the unbroken horizon of our planet. Man is hollow compared to the panorama that is the Earth.
The figure has no face – suggesting it could be anyone – you, me, the random guy in a mankini sunning himself on the sand…
And the figure is illuminated from within, suggesting the hollow within houses a light (or a soul, if you will) that is barely contained by the tangible makeup of our bodies, yet shines out from that thin and fragile shell.
I can see man – all humans – constructed of letters. The very building blocks of our language, our ideas, our dreams, our nightmares. Everything that we are – broken down into a random jumble of 26 formulaic symbols. We are all built and interact with each other through a complex arrangement of these 26 icons (in the English Language). Think about how amazing this is.
26 icons – 36 if you add the numbers 0-9.
Our entire civilization is built with only 36 building blocks.
Language. Mathematics. Arts. Sciences. Religions. History. War.
Everything that the Human race is – is built with 36 tiny building blocks.
My mind. Is blown.
So why is this man from New Jersey so incensed about this sculpture?
This is a clear cut, real-life example of not being able to enjoy the beauty of the forest because the damn trees are in the way. He got up close and personal with Spillover II, and started connecting the jumbled letters together to come up with anti-Semantic messages.
Naturally, he claims it is deliberate, because the math says so.
Have we become so jaded in this country that we can’t view anything anymore without finding some cause to bitch? That we have to examine, in minute detail, every piece of expressionism until we can find the ‘hidden meaning’ within – and assume that it’s a hostile one?
For some reason…I have a companion thought about a red coffee cup…
The message of hate you see in Spillover II, Mr. Matt Sweetwood? You’ve created it with your own avarice. Set it aflame with your post. And given it life and breath with your vehemence. The Shorewood council has ordered the sculpture taken down to be ‘fixed’ thanks to your paranoiac hatred.
The only thing that needed to be ‘fixed’ was your interpretation of the piece to begin with. You found this message of hate because you wanted to find one. Focus on hate and negativity, and that is what will be gifted you.
If you read this post (and I hope you did) you’ve now seen my interpretation of Spillover II.
Have we learned something?
One of my favorite games to play with letters is to take a random word, and figure out how many other words I can make out of it. It can also be fun to occasionally find hidden swear words in the ‘find-a-word’ puzzles in the paper.
In case you haven’t learned anything from my post, here’s a random pile of letters – I’m sure there’s a message of hate somewhere within it…