Anything can be rescued and made useful, given a little imagination and some elbow grease. This is one of those principles we operate under which is at the root of almost every decision we make, from artmaking to the details of living. We try to keep unnecessary purchasing to a minimum, to employ reclaimed elements in our work, and ultimately to adapt something old into something new.
Our studio is bordered by (salvaged) shelves, and lined up in neat rows are groups of pulleys, wheels, castors, bins of nuts and bolts, cans of half-used paint, re-spooled rolls of aircraft wire, fabric remnants, and so on. All elements that previously performed dutifully in long-finished projects. Some have been used many times over. There was a time when we even reused wood screws until they were too stripped or bent to use any longer. We bought the table saw second-hand from Craigslist. Our video camera tripod head was discarded by CBS, and Murray just custom-built a (salvaged) hardwood mount to intersect between our new camera and the tripod head.
Many of the other artists we know share this same sensibility. We have an painter friend who has challenged that we can give her any horrendous piece of clothing from a thrift store and she can make it into something couture. She hasn’t been stumped yet, in fact, she specializes in retooled muumuus. Often inspired by poverty and politics, and equipped with the skills to make or modify, a DIY lifestyle is a natural for artists.
When we were packing for our residency in Spain last summer, we decided to not take any artmaking materials with us and limit ourselves to just a few basic tools. The video that came out of our time there, Bruc Fugue, was an exercise in using the abundant resources that are around us all at any given moment, free for the taking. We’re working on several projects right now that incorporate recycling and reuse, including three stop-frame animations that will be brought to life from unused elements from previous work. It’s not just resourceful, it’s a matter of principle.