SCAVENGED TECHNOLOGY VODOU BOTTLE – 2017
Glass bottle, scavenged assorted electronic components, scavenged lengths of various wire
This bottle shows off the way that Vodou is ever changing and has adapted to the changing world around it. I have incorporated modern technology with classic Vodou ideas. This bottle uses discarded electronics to show that Vodou is a culture of many different subtly different parts that come in different varieties that come together to form overarching ideas that make up the central culture.
Throughout “Shaking the Spirit” with Wehmeyer, the class looked at how Vodou has been influenced by Haitian and Western culture. One of the big parts of Vodou is the way that gods and spirits, known as lwa, are represented through different art mediums. These art mediums vary from the altars created to honor these lwa to bottles shrouded in different fabrics and found objects to show off different aspects of the lwa. For the final project in this class we focused on those bottles and what they mean to the culture they came from and how they have changed over time to better represent the modern world.
For my specific project I wanted to incorporate the idea of found objects. The idea of found objects is prevalent in Haitian Vodou for a number of reasons. The first being that many people in Haiti, including the practitioners of Vodou do not have the financial resources to purchase expensive art materials. Another reason that this form of art relies heavily on found objects is the way that the Western world views Haiti. To the West Haiti is a helpless country that needs all the help they can get. This Western idea is only partially true as Haiti has suffered terrible losses from the natural disasters that plague the area. The West has decided to give aid to Haiti through several different charities that you are able to donate to. These charities help those in need but often end up sending items that people in Haiti don’t actually need. Some of these items include things like toys and other non essentials that can not be used to better the situation that people are. These things are then used in different forms of art such as the altars dedicated to lwa and the bottles that are filled and covered with discarded and donated objects. This has allowed for a vast variety of objects used in vodou sacred objects.
Another concept I wanted to incorporate into my bottle was the concept of reflections. Reflections in Vodou are seen as a way into see into the spirit world where the lwa are said to reside. This concept makes people see themselves and experience Vodou not just as a religion or culture but a way to interpret themselves in the world around them.
For my project I incorporated both of the above concepts with a modern interpretation. I used junk computer components that included circuit boards, screws and other miscellaneous components.These components are discarded frequently after a computer is upgraded or has reached the end of it’s life span. I was able to collect these parts from Champlain’s electronic recycling. A component that I decided to grab to help emphasize reflections in my art piece where the heat sinks that can be seen in my bottle. Heat sinks are a silver metal component that are placed over pieces that generate a lot of heat. Heat sinks, being shiny, help to put together the idea of reflection in the bottle. The objects inside the bottle are not held in place with anything other than their own weight. The bottle was also left open on the top. Both of these elements put together allow for constant change and addition to the bottle similar to the way a person would change and gain new experiences and skills throughout their life.