Local artist Jules Buck Jones has just set his wildlife-inspired installations loose at the Blanton Museum’s Faulkner Plaza, just in time for this past Saturday’s Explore UT, the university’s annual open house.
Jones has created a series of 8-foot tall plywood masks of a fox, owl and alligator face, entitled "The Articulators," which is a nice, cosmic complement to the Blanton’s current exhibits, “American Scenery” and “Go West,” featuring the beauty of America’s undulating natural landscape. Last year, Magda Sayeg led a team of local knitters in creating “A Knitted Wonderland,” in which each of the plaza’s 99 tree trunks was knitted with brightly colored yarn. But Jones’ animalistic sound sculptures (on display March 3 – 11) provide an interactive environment for potential U.T. students and interested art lovers to experience.
The three "Articulator" masks, painted in black and white tones, with forestry image on their exteriors and skull imagery inside, are communicating to one another via individual loops of each animal’s call played backwards (“I like the idea of listening to things backwards to reveal hidden secret messages,” Jones says.) — in conjunction with a fourth piece inside the Blanton’s lobby, featuring an ethereal, almost trance-inducing, black and white video of 70 people in painted fox masks (which Jones filmed this summer during an artist residency in Maine), seen through the eyes of second "receptor" fox.
Visitors are invited to walk around and inside the monochromatic animations, to literally get inside their heads and try to decipher the thoughts and communications of these whimsical creatures.
From the striking visuals to the raucous audio recordings (Jones says he woke up all the birds in his neighborhood when he was testing the owl audio late one night during the construction process), visitors will most assuredly experience a subjective view on the installations — maybe wondering what the ultimate message is while they’re literally inside these creatures’ heads, listening to their garbled, backward sounds.
But it’s not really about articulating the exact message of nature: Jones has camouflaged his ecological narrative in these monochromatic masks in an attempt to show that no matter how hard we try, we basically don’t understand animals. It’s more about seeing things from a different point of view and, ultimately, realizing, if only for a moment, how much we still have to learn from nature. And the more we listen, the more interesting things seem to get.
Jones is also a member of the local Boozefox Collective, who will be contributing to AMOA’s upcoming Art on the Green exhibit (March 9 – May 20) at Laguna Gloria. The outdoor exhibit will feature nine miniature golf holes, each designed and created by local artists. Boozefox’s creation? An enormous rat. Don’t miss it.