Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The rock farmer

I was fascinated, while watching a documentary about IM Pei, to learn there is such a thing as a rock farmer. I would like to be one. Apparently it involves cultivating found slabs, stones and small boulders into acceptable pieces for Asian style gardens. Several examples of the type of sedimentary rock used by Pei appear in the new Chinese garden room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The idea, as you can imagine, is to make the particular rock more pleasing artistically, to remind the viewer of mountains or clouds, or vaguely biotic forms. Rocks with holes are especially prized, and rock farmers will often add one where it might enhance the evocative beauty of the stone, which I guess makes them sculpture. I imagine a field of subtly changed stones left out to weather like a crop of corn.

The idea of wandering through the landscape, choosing beautiful geological formations, subtracting the hole that makes the piece art, or if you like, adding the tao, for a living sounds pleasant. But of course I can neither carry rocks nor chisel holes in them.

"This unstable pose imparts a sense of movement to the composition."

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