In “Do androids dream of electric sleep” by Philip K Dick, he introduces the concept of “Kipple”.
“…This building, except for my apartment is completely kipple-ized”
“Kipple-ized?” she did not comprehend.
“Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the lasr match or gum wrappers or yesterday’s homeopap….”
I first started making boxes in about 1987, or rather I was into making very small things. I was working within the area of sculpture and film at college, and I was particularly disappointed with the fact that within the Sculpture Dept, praise was positively “rained down” on those, somewhat macho guys who produced BIG STUFF. I had already learned the techniques of producing very small things (as I had spent sometime taking a jewellery and 3Ddesign option earlier) so I started to make tiny things. The next stage was to film/animate them in extreme close-up. I loved the details and dirt that was revealed when projected. At the time I was using soldered tin (from food tins) plaster, wax, drift-wood, resin and lead. Not everything was boxes however. I made small film sets, with windows, stairs, trees, rooms, that I used with “actors” of spiders, woodlice, snails (dealing with my terrible fear of creepy crawlies).
I would often make boxes during this time, either as other elements in my films, or as gifts for friends (those poor student days necessitating hand made presents).
My whole artistic practice stopped for a while after college, struggling to find a way to survive, busy with a rather experimental pop promo company I started, and finally with the Cranes, the band I had been playing with. After recording six albums with them, touring the world extensively and nearly 8 years had elapsed, I found that I had a huge cardboard box, filled to the brim with “weird shit that I had bought on tour”. Ask any band member you know, you accumulate crap. Mostly from gas stations, sometimes from tourist shops you go to on your few hours off, and sometimes strange gifts from fans. “Welcome to Maryland” stickers, miniature water pistols, glow in the dark Virgin Mary’s, dice, cards, comics (in all languages) pens, skulls, scorpions in resin. ALL SORTS OF TRASH!
SO… one day I was going through it and realised that in a somewhat unfortunate and tacky way, it represented my memories of the last few years, and as such deserved better display. I acquired some simple wooden boxes, and stuck it all in. Not in any particular order, (I couldn’t remember exactly where or when some of it had come from anyhow ) just randomly. I was very happy with the result, and was struck by the complete picture each box gave. Buddha’s were next to Jesus’, rocks from Arizona were next to shells from Seattle, free toys from McDonald were next to plastic Eiffel towers. I concluded that if we were to make a cultural study of the human race, its life on the earth, and its achievements, but only using trash (by which I mean, the enormous quantity of rubbish that is produced the world over, of the types mentioned above) you could end up with one of my boxes.
We LOVE this stuff! Souvenirs are big business in every city, because we like to “go home with stuff”, the holiday goodie-bag. We actually have a type of shop known as “A Junk Shop”! I have always loved them. We even like to go and buy SOMEONE ELSE’S crap. I bought a small glass giraffe in Milan, but I bought a small glass monkey just down the road in a junk shop, someone else’s monkey, that they bought in Milan or Tokyo or Glasgow.