003 Artists & Objects

In our minds, objects have associations. Some we may not consciously be aware of.

From the book What Objects Mean by Arthur Asa Berger (above image):

“From a semiotic perspective, nothing has meaning in itself; an object’s meaning always derives from the network of relations in which it is embedded.”

“We always have to determine what an artifact signifies and cannot find a “rule” book that explains the significance of every artifact, just as we cannot find a dream book that explains the meaning of every dream.”

Artist Research

After reading about the significance of objects as signs, I wanted to explore a bit about how artists use objects within their art. How do they use objects to convey a message to the viewer? Can 1 object signify more than one thing? How about combining objects?

I came across these artists in my research:

Pawel Bownik


Pawel Bownik is a visual artist from Poland. He combines materials, playing with a contrast of plants (organic matter) and man-made adhesive materials. First, he breaks the plants apart. He then uses different objects to glue them back together. He appears to be ‘correcting’ nature. Taking a plant that is whole and perfect and re-assembling it using objects that humans have created.

These photographs are from his book ‘Disassembly’.

The photos demonstrate the potential of objects, in this case, rubber bands. He also uses wire, plasticine, sticky tape, and thread. By contrasting them with nature, he leads us to consider the use of objects we see every day.

In this composition, the plastic could be protecting the plant or choking it. This type of packaging is used to protect the objects we order to our house, but once we have discarded the object, it becomes the opposite and is a burden to the environment.

Diana Lelonek

Diana Lelonek | Sapporo International Art Festival 2020 (siaf.jp)

Diana Lelonek is an artist also from Poland. She looks at the environment, but in a more straight -forward way.

Her project A Center for Living Things, is a cross between art and scientific research, which grabbed my attention. The work is a collection of found objects, from shoes to plastic and electrical items. The objects were found at illegal dumping sites. She then displayed them, (naturally covered in plants and moss), to explore the idea of  what happens to an object after it has been discarded.

In this example, the circuit board is no longer useable to us. Instead, it has become a small ecosystem and is home to plant life. The work made me think about the life-cycle of an inanimate object.

Kitsch Nitsch


Kitsch Nitsch is a creative partnerships of two artists. They explore style and decoration within design.  

Artwork by Kitsch Nitsch

In this piece, they have assembled a group of objects into a composition. The objects placed together, are given a new meaning. They become part of a paradigm that is the outfit; In this case, of an imaginary person. The shoes suggest this character is male and an adult. The keyboard bag tells us this is a man whose work involves using a computer. The gloved lady’s hand looks like an assistant handing him his bag. This signifies his importance. The use of bulldog clips signifies an office environment. The artist uses these visual clues to build up a picture for the viewer. Each object on its own would still be a sign, but I am interested in the way these objects together combine into a picture and message. 

Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp | IMAGE OBJECT TEXT

Marcel Duchamp was one of the key Dada artists of the early 20th century. The readymade artworks of the Dadaists were new and revolutionary at the time. The audience were not sure what message to take from these pieces.

Bicycle Wheel, 1913 Marcel Duchamp (authorised reproduction 1951, original lost)
To me, the kitchen stool acts as a stand to display the wheel. Being displayed as such, might allow a viewer to appreciate the object itself. In this context, we consider the wheel apart from its bike.

Duchamp’s intention with Bicycle wheel was to express an idea using objects. He felt that the importance was the idea and not what a piece of art looked like. This contrasted with the fine art paintings he studied, where the importance was on aesthetics. Bicycle wheel was something fresh in the art world. It was interactive. Duchamp kept the piece in his studio and would occasionally turn the wheel.

Erik Kessels

The Clock Tower — ERIK KESSELS

Erik Kessels is a Dutch artist and designer. The Clock Tower is a collection of 2800 clocks, displayed in a former clock tower in Amsterdam. Here we have multiple objects displayed together. In my opinion, they look beautiful. By creating the clock tower, Kessels has made a space where the viewer can spend time immersed in the world of clocks.

Clock Tower, Erik Kessels

Kessels brings the clock to our attention. From this photo, we can see the combination of styles he has found. The clocks on the right-hand side remind me of an old-fashioned and serious character who would have this kind of clock in their home. The clocks on the left-hand side suggest the opposite character, people who are young and bright. Each clock would belong to an individual. (We only need one clock to a room) This piece sparks my imagination and leads me to wonder about the many different personalities on display.