OPERANT (An Oldowonk Cataract), 2019
Reclaimed dump truck, stained glass, glass tchonks, steel, paint, polycarbonate, LEDs
Unnasch's contribution to "The Auto Show" – titled OPERANT (An Oldowonk Cataract) – is a three-dimensional stained-glass-accoutered artwork based on a red dump truck that acknowledges and celebrates the construction workers and laborers who help build our beautiful cities, bridges and park systems. Backlit stained glass panels installed in the cab windows and along the sides of the dump box contain imagery suggestive of the continuum of concepts influencing the human-built environment. The foundations for problem-solving are innate; hence, the panels depict various forms of Nature's approach to 'building' and 'making'. Yet, subtly threaded throughout the imagery, whispers of heuristics and artificial intelligence hint at the contemporary end of the spectrum. Finally, a cascade of backlit chunk glass – reminiscent of flinty, primordial tools – has the appearance of being dumped out from the back of the truck, eliciting the possibilities of design and construction.
A rugged Minnesotan farm upbringing punctuated with quixotic escapism made for Karl Unnasch’s background. Labor was expected. Thanks were given. Innovation came from need. His present-day notions morph into works that toy with nostalgia, knitting together sources of collective memory while ringing with an element of his own whimsy.