Art as seen in a Can Opener
By Joseph Parish
Often time’s common everyday items are overlooked in our quest for specific art decor which displays our individual perception of beauty and form. Perhaps in some far distant era of time our common products, which we take for granted, may perplex some future civilization as they attempt to distinguish what the items purpose and reason for being was. For this quest I have attempted to take my everyday manual can opener and reveal to the reader the true beauty associated with this functional utensil.
Manual can openers are small and generally easy to store in the modern kitchen cabinet which provides a degree of utilitarianism for those with limited kitchen storage facilities. In emergencies when power is disrupted you can still use your manual opener to prepare your evening food treats. On the other side of the coin, they present a more difficult challenge to clean and usually will require a knack to using it.
My can opener which I use for the sake of discussion is a traditional style top cutter bordering closely upon structuralism in its nature. The opener is offered in a modern style, dressed completely in durable black plastic. Once the contoured handle has been closed the stainless steal cutting blade with its razor sharp wheel remains locked onto the can until such time as the handle is released. The bulky, non-slip grips on the opener are large enough for just about any size hand from that of a small child to those of a burley adult.
Our worldwide culture would be entirely different without this simple 1858 machine. Prior to its creation by Ezra Warner, people would have to puncture the cans in order to obtain the food from within. Not a very impressive method of preparing dinner in the least. Even than the can opener was intended for use by the grocery store personnel and not your common homemaker. My particular can open is based primarily upon the design created by William Lyman.
The can open is not merely a practical device with unlimited potential in the home but has also held great persuasion within the art world. Without such an invention it is likely that Andy Warhol would never have had the inspiration to complete his famous 1962 pop art pictures featuring Campbell’s Soup Cans. Warhol was so fascinated by tin cans that he produced a wide variety of works displaying the Campbell’s Soup cans. It is believed that Warhol’s art played a major influence in ushering in the commercial art era as he concentrated upon the most simplest of recognizable forms.
One of the underlining aspects from the cam opener which provides a strong impression for me is the respect afforded a non-living item. Just the other day my wife was upset simply because she could not locate our can opener. Since I was not at home she immediately reached for the computer and quickly placed an urgent text to my cell phone.
“What did you do with the can opener?” she messaged to me.
Although there was no immediate danger to my wife she displayed a form of dread and fear usually associated with emergency issues. I instantly wondered about the mysterious hold that our modern manual can opener had achieved on mankind in the disguise of convenience. My reactions were to wonder how we as a society ever survived without this cute little invention.
I look closely at this nine inch object lying lifeless in front of me and appreciate the value first off that it has bestowed upon our civilization. As I view it, I sense a feeling of strength and endurance. It has the inapt ability to perform tasks which I as a normal human am simply unable to accomplish. Color wise it presents a neutral appearance with its flat black coating while slipping slightly into the modern era with its plastic composition. Objectively, I actually sense no negative reactions from the can opener but mostly positive feelings of appreciation.
Artistically using the principles set forth by Feldman in his popular book on analyzing art the can opener in question provides a flowing, free form composed of a single cold, solid color with minor points displaying stainless steel. The concept reflects favorable upon a modern impression of art. The lines for which it is composed are a modest combination of both straightforward and curved styles which flow smoothly through the object. Its irregular shape provides a stable environment. Lastly, its surface structure while appearing rough is in fact rather smooth with a pleasing matte finish.
In conclusion of this article I now view the can opener in a different aspect than I did previously. I still perceive it as an instrument of strength and endurance but also composed of an unknowing ability to please the user. Although society in general may share my views, I fear they generally lack the knowledge and ability to express their outward concept of this interesting machine.
Copyright @2011 Joseph Parish