by Rachel Stephens
There’s a strange but familiar object, outdated and broken
Pushed far under a table in the stale vintage shop.
I found it, sleeping under a pile of other unwanteds
Counting the passage of time in dust.
This tool, once so sturdy, now feels so fragile
As I drag it from its resting place.
What memories are locked inside?
A salvaged thing,
Once utilitarian –
Is now magnificent.
Frozen in elegant suspension, these objects are idealized and revered.
John Peralta suspends our imagination. The objects he chooses to include in his series, Mechanations, strike a chord of nostalgia and wonder. Early typewriters, cameras and projectors were at the forefront of technology in their day, opening up an exciting new world of creation. Peralta takes these objects and deconstructs them, suspending their pieces within a lit three-dimensional frame. This presentation, this dissection, displays each part as essential to the whole. The engineering side of our brain starts to try and connect the pieces and discover their function. And for most of us, leaves a sense of wonder and awe at the simplicity as well as complexity of this machine that has been left obsolete by today’s technology. In this way, there is something romantic about Peralta’s work. Frozen in elegant suspension, these objects are idealized and revered. Clean and impeccably constructed, Peralta’s work presents these objects without flaw.
Peralta’s process begins with a trip to an estate sale. Scouring the thousands of objects someone has decided to leave behind, he chooses pieces that give him pause. This pause is one of emotion and intellectual curiosity. A pocket watch or Polaroid camera can trigger memory and the fondness that comes with recalling something that you had thought forgotten. And the other side of the coin is the curiosity about how the object functions. The emotion and this curiosity could be tied, as many can remember the desire to take things apart as a child to discover its inner workings. In this way, Peralta is acting on this base desire but with the skill, patience and eye of a craftsman. The result is strikingly awe-inspiring.
Peralta has created works using more modern objects as well. They are visually striking and their compositions add to the glamour and drama of the subjects—most recently electric guitars and guns.
In his September 2017 show at Wally Workman Gallery, Peralta will be presenting his most recent Mechanations. Among the works on display will be a Singer sewing machine c. 1925, a Revere 8mm silent film projector c. 1940 and an Olivetti Valentine portable typewriter c. 1969, the same model as made famous in the 1971 film, A Clockwork Orange.
Top image: Singer Is Sewing Made Easy, singer sewing machine c. 1925, wood, latex, flourocarbon monofilament, LED lighting, 42 x 30 x 18 in.