Sarah Frost is interested in the history of objects and structures. Using found materials her work explores diverse themes, such as the desire for human connectivity and the tension between individuals and whole systems. The installations are site-specific, taking inspiration from the built environment they are situated within. They consist of large-scale, immersive accumulations of small, individualized parts.
My QWERTY series grew out of an earlier exploration of obsolete communications technology, including materials such as computer mice, SCSI cables and telephone cords. The keyboards are appealing because they are ubiquitous- the keys in these pieces are taken from a cross section of computer users: individuals, manufacturing plants, fortune 500 companies, stockbrokers, small businesses, government offices, a grocery-store chain, and so on. Each key has a unique history and bears the residue of its user– each has been personalized by a wear pattern, handwriting, grease marks or even nail polish. While this individuality is apparent upon close inspection, on this large scale it is lost in the overall mass at a distance.
Arsenal reflects my continued interest in communication and connectivity. These gun and ammunition forms are re-creations of paper forms found in tutorial videos self-published by a community of boys on YouTube. The paper guns are ingenious – most shoot paper darts and have moving parts, such as folding bipods, extendable stocks and spinning chambers. The YouTube community itself is interesting because of the dialogue surrounding the members’ creations; community members critique each other’s work and collaborate on the construction of difficult forms, such as the curved form of a magazine. From a sculptor’s point of view, this was an interesting dialogue in a surprising venue.
The weapons that inspired the online videos ranged from historic weapons, such as an arisaka with bayonet, a 19th century Japanese rifle, to six shooters, contemporary assault rifles and weapons from popular video games. While the paper versions were built out of the simplest of materials – paper and tape – and using simple tubular construction, many of the forms were surprisingly sophisticated.
The overall configuration of the installation was a hanging paper cloud that created a pathway through it’s center. The pathway became narrower and the walls taller as the viewer passed through – a sort of gauntlet. The viewer’s disturbance of the air as he or she moved through caused many of the paper pieces to turn. There was also a grouping of paper forms and an ‘ammo’ pile of paper darts on the floor. Most of the tubular forms were constructed with a blow tube that launched the paper darts.
Constructed out of 425 bamboo poles, my newest installation, Site, is a curved, skeletal sheath that bisects the rectangular space of Gallery 210 at University of Missouri, Saint Louis. Made specifically for the gallery, the tension in the piece lies in the dichotomy between its menacing, fortress-like exterior and the shielded interior. The fraise-like poles on the exterior stab into the viewer’s space from floor to ceiling, yet one can pass through a narrow transitional space to the interior of the piece, which opens into an arc.
The knuckles, swellings, discolorations and scars on the bamboo recall limbs, joints, bruises and birthmarks; the whole is held together by fabric lashings torn from hundreds of used household linens. These white fabrics are tactile – sheer, comfy, fuzzy, hemmed, coarse and so forth – and can be touched or viewed closely from the interior of the piece.
The title Site has multiple references: the installation is site-specific, the bamboo structure suggests scaffolding, such as one might find on a construction site in parts of Asia, and the bandage-like fabric lashings suggest healing and renewal, such as at a surgical or wound site.
Featured Image: Sarah Frost, QWERTY North and QWERTY East, discarded computer keyboard keys. 12’ x 17’ and 12’ x 14’, 2010
All images ©Sarah Frost