Tim Hawkinson

As the semester winds to an end and it’s time to clean off my icon-congested desktop, I can’t help but procrastinate by going through some of my archived files. I came across these images: works by one of my favorite artists, Tim Hawkinson, from a lecture I presented as a TA to Anne Wilson’s “Time Material and the Everyday” class. Hawkinson truly inspires me and his transformation of materials from pencils to fingernails has a creative pulse that makes me weak!

Hawkinson’s art draws from experiences of the human body, so the relevance to biomedical visualization can be uniquely appreciated. These are just a few examples taken from his retrospective some years back at the Whitney (I went to the exhibit 2 or 3 times and barely missed the sister show in LA!).



The image below is actually a functioning time piece in which the stitches act like hands of a clock to tell time. Hawkinson did a whole series of such subtle time pieces including a hair in a hair brush, the twist tie of a garbage bag, the metal ring of a soda can, and more.

Hawkinson’s muscles of facial expression! This piece is titled Emoter and is controlled by a analogue contraption of the artist’s invention. Much like his musical instruments, there is an intrinsic relationship between the machine and the behavior of the artwork, in this case a self-portrait.

Uberorgan unfortunately was not installed at the retrospective; the 300+ foot indoor sculpture is best presented in a space like MassMOCA. In title it refers to Nietzsche’s Ubermensch and [relates conceptually to the subversion of human pretentions]. It is a conglomerate piece that recalls the inside of the thoracic cavity with lung-like sacs that you can see fill up a huge room. Hawkinson often integrates sound with his sculptures and the Uberorgan functions like a giant bagpipe as the “lungs” fill up and expel air.


Images from the Tim Hawkinson Retrospect at the Whitney www.whitney.org, Mass MoCA www.massmoca.org

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