Mobile Madness

These mobiles seek to manifest the feelings of disillusioned youth through a variety of artifacts and photographs. They are meant to convey the reactionary feelings one might have for the rigidity of the world, and the various implications this can have on the greater socio-cultural realities. The hardcore punk movement serves as an example of how disenchantment can lead to what seems like unhinged nonsense, but this madness can actually mobilize and inspire an entire generation.



Unfortunately, I had to get a new phone during the time I was making this project so all of my photos (which there weren’t many to begin with) are gone. I don’t believe in “The Cloud” so none of my photos from my old phone were saved. I mourn more for my personal life than for this class; I had some great memories in that thing.

The project I made for the event was a total accident. In fact, I still had no idea what I’d be doing for the event on the day in class when Kimon asked each of us what we intended to do for the event. Luckily, I was sitting on the far end of the table and had 11 people to buffer me before I was expected to give an answer (thanks guys). The word “mobile” popped into my mind because I was running out of time and I noticed that the lamps in that room reminded me of mobiles. So, mobile it was. Kimon seemed pleased though, so it all worked out. I probably shouldn’t admit all of this to my graduate class.

Anyway, I felt I had dodged a bullet and allowed my proclivity to procrastinate to reinvigorate itself. Days before the event, I knew it was time to shift into beast mode. I left my apartment in Brooklyn and just started walking. I had no image in my mind of what the mobile would like or what materials I would need to build it. On my way out that day, my roommate asked me where I was going. I told her I needed to go buy some stuff, and when she asked me to specify what kind of stuff, I told her that: “if I knew that, I’d probably leave this shopping until tomorrow”. I needed all the time I had left for myself because deadlines were approaching fast. She was confounded at my enigma of an answer, but I felt pressed for time so I explained later.

Broadway is riddled with stores that sell nothing but clutter. Trinkets, decorations, and, well, junk crowd the shelves like its going out of style. Most of the shit is quite literally out of style and reminds me more of my Great Aunt Helen’s cellar. Great Aunt Helen died some years ago and I pity whoever had to empty her house. So. Much. Shit.

Of course, since it’s the holiday season, most of these stores had Christmas-décor-galore on their shelves and that meant sparkles, Jesus, and 2018! was plastered on everything. This, you might guess, was not inspiring anything punk in me. Sometimes not knowing what you need is okay; what’s really important is at least knowing what don’t need. I’ll admit I walked around for some hours, all the time getting more and more anxious about what was going to happen. What the hell was I going to do? I had to build a hanging apparatus that inspired feelings of punk, and all I knew so far was that sparkling Jesus statues weren’t going to be any help.

At some point, I decided in my head that it was imperative that I find wire hangers. I thought I could unravel them and reengineer them into some sort of wire armature for the mobile. I couldn’t’ find any stores that had them on Broadway (they were all plastic), so I traveled to Atlantic Avenue, one of my least favorite places in Brooklyn, hoping the Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond could help me. The unpleasant time spent on Atlantic Avenue was accentuated by the fact that, they too, had no wire hangers…only plastic. Apparently you can only get them at dry cleaners. But that was okay because it was right around then that I realized the answer had been right in front of me the entire time. The Benjamin Moore Hardware Store, my favorite local business. They have the most amiable cat there so I spend a lot of time in it.

I grabbed a hand-basket, turned on Korn in my headphones (sorry it wasn’t punk), and “went to town”, as they say. I grabbed anything that looked useful. I don’t know how to explain how I judged “usefulness” in those moments, but I collected some shit nonetheless. I wish I had a picture of the woman’s face when I dumped my basket out on the counter. She might as well have just said “what the fuck” out loud…it wouldn’t have been any more shocking. I put it all on my credit card and crossed the street to get home.

Once I emptied the contents of my Benjimin Moore bag on the floor of my room, I knew I wanted to turn this big pile of shit on my floor into the most hideous thing possible. The punk movement was noted for its graphic symbols and shocking images so what I really wanted to do was create something shocking. I think I got close because both of my roommates stressed how important it was that I travel with my mobile in a box on a train to the event. The unsuccessful detonation of a homemade bomb in Times Square had happened just the day before, and my tangled, metal contraption should be considered before taken into public.

I don’t know exactly how long the construction of the thing took, but I know I listened to multiple albums all the way through while I worked. My (poor) roommates finally knocked on my door because they were so curious about what the commotion in my room was about. They said all they could hear was Broadway’s Rent blasting, echoed by hammering, clattering, and “what could have been two large men arm wrestling”. I revealed myself, with small cuts on my hands, neck, and jaw (wire is very hard to maneuver, bend, and cut on your own). They were shocked at my project so I knew it was a job completed.

Each component of the mobile was meant to be twisted or aberrant. Symbolism was included too. For example, the white mask at the bottom was aluminum foil that I breathed into to try to form it to a face. After, I used paper-mache to put a sort of plaster over it, and then drew what reminded me of Venom from the Marvel comic books. I always thought of Venom as Spiderman’s alter ego, a sort of metaphysical conversation of what it means to be all good, all evil, or both good and evil. I wanted the mask to look like it was battling between two parts of itself. The Jameson cap for a mouth and nails for eyes represent what’s been hammered into you (pun intended) as being suffocating (thus the suffocated look on the mask), while the paint shows the battle between two parts, one possibly consuming the other (?). At the very end, I decided to include some of the polaroid photos from my wall that I’ve been making with friends. I do these purely for fun, as a form of expression and a way to make memories. For whatever reason, they seemed apropos to include on it.

I think it is worth including the fact that when I arrived at the event, the question of how I was going to hang this thing became an issue. Once it was decided that a shower rod would be best, I set off to a nearby store to purchase one. As I checked out, capitalizing on the student discount, I swung the shower rod upward as I turned to leave and, of course, shattered one of their light bulbs. It was an uncomfortable situation, but how is it I managed to shatter a lamp while purchasing finishing supplies for our Lamp Show? *insert light bulb emoji*

This is the factual story of my ugly mobile.