How do Tim Hawkinson’s art pieces Emoter and Pentecost differ from one another?

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epic-art-time | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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Tim Hawkinson’s piece Emotor is essentially a motorized 2 dimensional piece.  The free standing mechanical driver that powers it does add an element of sculpture to the piece, and the wires and gears that stand out from the pictures surface do add an element of  relief.   I can’t help but feel, however, that the 2 dimensional, motorized photograph is really the main part of the piece.

In Pentecost the element of 3dimentional form is much more present.  Pentecost is a sculptural installation created to fill a large room.  It is comprised of a tree form and 12 life size, motorized figures that are positioned in and around the tree.

The element of sound is also more prevalent in Pentecost.  The mechanical figures each strike the tree form with a different body part, creating a rhythmic sequence that resonates throughout the room.  The piece itself is about universal communication through form, movement, and sound.  The title of the piece relates it to the biblical event when the 12 apostles received the Holy Spirit, allowing them to speak in tongues so that all peoples could understand them.

The element of sound is also present in Emoter but it is not as central to the piece.  There is an audible mechanical noise as the parts of the face in Emoter change expression.  This emphasizes the strangeness of the facial expressions made by the face, but one can’t help but feel that the presence of the sound is just a result of the mechanical parts and not something that the artist specifically intended.

Both pieces involve Hawkinson’s usual theme of  “re-imagining of his own body and what it means to make a self-portrait of this new or fictionalized body” as stated In the eEnotes/Wikibedia page on the artist.  And both pieces are indeed about communication with others, but each is about a different mode of communication.  Emoter is about communication through facial expression which can sometimes be involuntary and influenced by uncontrollable, external forces.  Pentecost is about using one’s talents and faculties to communicate with others on a universal level.