When handmade meets digital, sparks fly
Wood, glass, technological invention at Fuller Craft
By Cate McQuaid, Globe Correspondent
June 20, 2010
BROCKTON — “Sounding,’’ an imposing sculptural work by Donald Fortescue and Lawrence LaBianca, could be an old phonograph that has mutated into a giant undersea creature. It stands in the middle of the first gallery of “The New Materiality: Digital Dialogues at the Boundaries of Contemporary Craft,’’ a vigorous exhibit about the crossroads of handmade and new-media work at the Fuller Craft Museum.
The base of the piece resembles an elegant, cabriole-legged side table, but it’s a rusted steel cage filled with rocks. An enormous, ivory-toned amplifying horn sprouts from that cage and curves gracefully down over the viewer’s head. Stand beneath it, and the sounds of water lap and gurgle down upon you. To make it, Fortescue and LaBianca submerged their steel sculpture underwater for two months — hence the rust — and recorded the sounds at the site.
It’s the perfect centerpiece for the show, organized by independent curator Fo Wilson. “Sounding’’ is, with its rocks and rust and elegant funnel, materially delicious, and formally it refers back a century or more to the heyday of handcrafted objects. But the digital sound element is nothing anyone can touch, and its damp, ethereal murmurs clinch the work’s success.