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A Knotted Octopus Carved Directly into Two Pianos Entwines Maskull Lasserre’s New Musical Sculpture — Colossal

January 13, 2024 - Art

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Art
Music

#Maskull Lasserre
#octopus
#sculpture
#wood

January 12, 2024

Grace Ebert

a sculpture of two pianos sliced and connected by a carved knotted octopus

“The Third Octave” (2023). All images © Maskull Lasserre, shared with permission

Behind the hammers and pins of most upright pianos is a hard mass of spruce, maple, or mahogany, what artist Maskull Lasserre (previously) refers to as a “secret volume of solid wood.”

“I always thought this (component) had a dormant potential beyond its basic supporting role in securing the tuning keys for the piano strings,” he tells Colossal. In one of his most recent works, titled “The Third Octave,” Lasserre investigates this prospect by carving directly into the back panel of two instruments.

The resulting sculpture connects through a tangled, textured knot of octopus tentacles, of which the eight arms correspond to the eight notes of the octaves available within the keyboard. Chiseled into the bodies of both pianos—the right features a lively Minoan-style marine illustration on its surface—the mollusk camouflages a miter joint, or an angled cut between two pieces of wood, that tightly fastens the instruments together.

 

a detail image of a wooden carving of an octopus connecting two parts of a piano

Underneath one set of pedals, Lasserre slotted two books to keep pressure on the joint: On Growth and Form by D.W. Thompson and The Quadruple Object by Graham Harman He selected the texts, which detail biological and philosophical systems, respectively, for both their size and subject matter, which relate to the conceptual framework of his sculpture.

“Most subtly, the octopus dwells in a submerged depth beyond easy human access and remote from the stories we tell of it,” the artist explains. “This could equally describe that hidden volume of matter below the surface of a musical instrument that we think we know but actually holds other strange and beautiful potentials.”

“The Third Octave” also evokes his 2015 sculpture “Improbable Worlds,” which carved a tiny wishbone into the center of a piano. “Like all of my work, this (new) piece was made to answer some question (through a physical syntax) that written/spoken language simply cannot,” the artist says, sharing that his pieces are often dubbed nostalgic. He explains further:

When I have the opportunity, I gently emphasize that working, in a contemporary sense, with reclaimed material—and revealing something enduring and eternal in that—offers an intentional counterpoint to a society preoccupied with finding answers outside what we are and what we already have (see AI, new tech., etc).

Lasserre is currently working on a large public work in Squamish, British Columbia, which you can find preliminary photos of on Instagram.

 

a detail image of a wooden carving of an octopus connecting to part of a piano

two books prop up part of a piano near the silver pedals on a wooden floor

a detail image of a wooden carving of an octopus connecting to part of a piano

the artist rests his arm on a sculpture of two pianos sliced and connected by a carved knotted octopus

#Maskull Lasserre
#octopus
#sculpture
#wood

 

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