Christian Long

Vik Muniz: Makes Art with Wire Sugar

In TED Talks on April 12, 2010 at 9:44 am

Reflection by ALEX F.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Vik Muniz:  Makes Art with Wire Sugar

The first thing that I noticed about Vik Muniz’s talk is that while he is a little bit awkward on stage, he still has a very natural humor that he brings into play, and can make light out of an otherwise dark situation (as when he speaks about being shot.).

But what catches my attention more is what he is talking about.

He makes art from mediums that most people would never even dream of making art out of. He talks about using chocolate to create amazing images, when any average person would see a mess of slime and pull out the Mr. Clean and paper-towels. And this isn’t the kind of accidental “oh look I was playing with my food” art; these images have shading, and texture and meaning.

And I used to think that only women found any real meaning in chocolate.

He also uses many other “odd” mediums, such as wire, sugar, and even dust to make amazing pictures. The wire is the one that gives us a real “mindfake” to quote Randy Pauche. As Muniz says, “They look at it — ah, it’s a pencil drawing. And then you have this double-take and see that it’s actually something that existed in time”. This is one of my personal favorite kinds of art. The kind that forces you to look deeper than just the pretty shapes and really see what it is, how it’s not really about what you made, but how you made it. That’s the kind of thing that, in my personal opinion, separates the painters and sculptors from the real artists. But that isn’t to discredit what he’s done with any of his other mediums, I’d also love to get into how he made portraits of children from a material that has basically shaped their lives: sugar. He had met children whose parents were plantation workers, and thought “Hey, they work with sugar, let’s make a picture of them with sugar.”

The connection between the child and their picture is very strong, and took a lot of effort to pull off.

My favorite of all his mediums, however, was the cotton balls. He took the idea that clouds could be anything you wanted, and shrank and worked with it until he had little miniature cloud figures. The funny thing to me is that no matter how hard he may try, people will never see exactly what he wants them too. Think about it; he’s taken an idea that has always been very dependent on imagination and tried to force a specific shape into peoples minds. When you look at a cloud, don’t you let your mind wander and try to see all the different ways you can look at it? By making the “clouds” a particular form, he’s given some structure to that imagination, but leaves a lot of the picture up to us.

There are plenty of other mediums he’s used to make the most amazing pieces, but those will only be found in the video. All I can say is that Vik Muniz is an extremely creative soul, one who takes art to the next level.

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