Cranky Artist

Cornish grad Casey Curran makes ingenious devices with wire, rope, and balsa wood, powered by hand crank.

Freshly graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a BFA, Casey Curran, 25, creates clever kinetic art pieces that invite the viewer to interact with the work. In his debut solo show at Viveza, “Turn of a Crank: Sink into Script,” Curran has created ingenious little devices rendered in wire, rope, and balsa wood that are operated by a hand crank. He turns to classic old texts for inspiration and extracts, literally, their stories, words, and concepts, bringing them to life in his sculptures. While most of his explorations are quite literal—a mechanical fly twisting and shuttering his wings on a background of text cut from The Lord of the Flies—this format could easily become a platform to leap into more surreal or fascinatingly symbolic realms to comment provocatively on the influence and underlying meaning of these texts. His work evokes Kurt Schwitters’ found-object Merz constructions and are more elaborate than Duchamp’s Readymades. Indeed, partly because he uses antique books and simple materials, Curran’s contraptions look as though they would be at home among the machinations of the early 20th-century Dadaists. Curran, though, seems more sober in his intentions. For Evolution: Social and Organic (pictured), he has created two tiny skeletons and a sphere on an axis juxtaposed with selected pages and fragments of the text. The result resembles one of DaVinci’s wildly visionary sketches come to life. The brilliantly elaborate pop-up books of Robert Sabuda also come to mind; they, too, apply complex mechanics to illuminate a classic text (notably, The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland). The Art of War, Moby Dick, Romeo and Juliet—Curran takes on seminal texts and literally toys with them. While his pieces encourage viewers to play with them, it would be interesting to see Curran twist his concept one more revolution and have his work, in turn, play with us. SUE PETERS