Measured Intention, 2015
June 2015, Hancock Shaker Village
“Do all your work as though you had a thousand years to live; and as you would if you knew you must die tomorrow.”
This project is an exploration of the Shaker experience of time and how their unique philosophy informed making and the role of labor and work. The Shaker aesthetic evidenced by their objects, tools and architecture is rooted in intention: functional, genuinely ergonomic and marvelously sophisticated in its’ simplicity. I have chosen the technique of spinning as a way to connect with Shaker craft and as a method to explore the literal and metaphoric measurement of time through the process based crafts of wood working and spinning and the time based medium of video.
Time from the Shaker perspective is a continuum. There is no apocalypse or or end of days. Life and work are not judgements visited upon guilty sinners but rather an opportunity to praise and celebrate life through work. By treating work as service to God and community the traditional system of measuring labor through time is disrupted. There are no clocks to punch, no hierarchies of value, every task is given equal attention and work is valued as process and product. Every aspect of Shaker Design is carefully considered for human use. A Shaker basket is proportioned to the body, the banisters and tool handles are perfectly suited to the hand, we instinctively reach out to touch and use them. We sense the balance, and sensitivity to materials, that Shaker craftspeople infuse into their buildings, landscape and objects.
I have built a projection screen made from a continuous spun thread and strung on copper nails. The video is footage of the process of spinning, projected onto the screen as shadows which emphasize my own aesthetic in conversation with the Shakers.