TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cube Grenades: Transforming Art Through Social Objects

by Gina DeLorenzi

What's a Cube Grenade?

You've seen some of the eye candy showing up in commercial advertising recently. Short, simple, effective, sometimes even profound.

The advertising world is moving to a new model for grabbing and keeping our attention. It is capitalizing on the concept of “social objects”. A social object is the centerpiece of any conversation. It doesn't matter what the object or idea is, simply that there's a connection going on between people centered on the object or idea.

The Mile Long Aids Memorial Quilt, A "Cube Grenade"

I don't think you can purposely manipulate social objects like the beer ads that try to make us buy their beer by associating good times with friends, BBQ's, tubs of beer and a lot of laughing. Social objects are spontaneous happenings. (It's the viral phenomenon of social networks.)

“Big social objects have more social gravity. They attract conversation like stars and big planets attract matter from space. Tiny social objects are more like a meteor shower; each one has very little gravitational pull as such, but when you add up all the tiny particles in space, they embody more total matter than the big constellations.” Juri Engelstrom, product manager at Google.

If the social object (idea) is a very good one, it could become a “cube grenade”. Cube grenade is the curiosity-arousing phrase created by cartoonist Hugh MacLeod. Cube grenades jump start conversations, they make us keep returning to an idea or object again and again, they motivate us to do something, go somewhere, they get us all excited about the new cool thing. McLeod says tube grenades stir up Trouble in the best sense of the word. A cube grenade can get left behind by a “conversation” that becomes so interesting that it eclipses the original social object. When such a transformation happens, people, ideas and actions can change the world, (for good or bad, sadly).

Cube Grenades as Art

"Allegria", Art Quilt by Gina DeLorenzi

I made my one and only art cube grenade about 6 years ago and I've have been resting on it ever since. Allegria is the best art quilt I have made. Allegria engages. It causes people to come back to it over and over. I could have sold several Allegrias, I still get requests for it. I think it will hold its own for many years even while quilt art trends come and go.

It's time for me to make another cube grenade with my fabric art. More of my art should be cube grenades. I should try to make every art quilt a cube grenade.

Human cubicles improving the world.

Make Your Own Cube Grenade!

Every human is his or her our own cubicle. Each of us can create a cube grenade with our talent and resources. When we create a cube grenade with our art, we “blow away the competition”. So, getting back to the title of this article, let's make cube grenades in our art and with our daily lives. The world sure needs improvement in all the basics. Whether we think Play it Forward, Random Acts of Kindness, or Cube Grenades, we need to get to work, right now.

"Evening Blossom", Art Quilt by Gina DeLorenzi

Gina is a self taught quilt artist. She creates visual and emotional impressions in her fiber art by allowing a relationship between various fabrics to emerge. The stunning results of her dyeing and sewing techniques energize the direction each art work takes.

Gina is a regular contributor here on Fiber Focus. Click here to see her past posts.

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