Man and Machine:
Humans have struggled for centuries with overwhelming heat. Even in the 21st century, Princeton dorms for the most part go without air conditioning, leaving students to sweat in silence. Rudolf Hoflehner of Austria was one of the first to understand the plight of the Princetonian roasting in the mild summers of New Jersey. As a sculptor, he spread the word of the great suffering of the Princetonian through his momentous piece “Human Condition.”
Here is the Princeton student — you can tell as he is hunched from years of the backbreaking pursuit of knowledge. Beyond that, though, this student has been brought down by the heat and has made the ultimate sacrifice. He has replaced his face with a fan. He is no longer beautiful, but he is always in the presence of a light breeze.
The sculpture is rusted, demonstrating that while the fan-replacing-face maneuver might be a quick fix to the problem of overbearing heat, it will only end in the destruction of the human race. In the creation of this human windmill, man is melded with machine. The machine must override the man, turning him all to steel and forcing him to stop in the midst of his climb towards progress. Hoflehner knows that the human condition is what makes us yearn to have a fan instead of a face, but he warns that this can only end in a war of man versus machine and the creation of a race of androids. Once men have the faces of machines, machines will inevitably take the faces of men. Thus, the fan in the sculpture takes on the appearance of a human face.
— Lolita De Palma, Senior Writer
Head of Woman:
You walk past Spelman to the Dinky, and suddenly she confronts you. You feel guilty for not noticing her before or, more likely, for wanting to keep your distance. She is, after all, a strange omnipresence, difficult not to notice as she towers over lesser creatures who scurry past.
She is known as the “Spelman Eyes” — you’ve heard whispers of this statue — but the real name for this statue is actually “Head of Woman.” It is a copy of a Pablo Picasso sculpture by the same name. However, while the original sculpture was a mere 12 inches tall, the Princeton behemoth stands 16 feet tall. The “woman” stares imposingly at New South and is not really a woman at all but rather is an enormous, decapitated, Cubist head.
The plaque below the statue (if you’re willing to get that close) reads “Head of Woman: executed by Carl Nesjar” as if the poor woman were a victim of the French Revolution. Reddish-hued scratches gouged into her concrete “neck” and onto one cheek further suggest bloody violence and mutilation. But, because this is art, interpretations vary. Maybe you don’t see a huge head mounted on a pillar in the style of heads mounted on 16th-century London Bridge. “I thought it was an owl,” one person confessed.
Uncertain of what to make of her, you turn to leave, and as you do, you can almost feel her judging you — or beckoning to you, if you like that kind of thing.
— Zoe Perot, Contributor
The concrete plateau balances on a point as it beckons to the weary passer-by. It challenges you to be the first to tip the scale, to shake the cone from its mooring, to defy its solid weight with your own. Yet as you step onto the mesa, fear floods through every part of your body. Fear that the stone will begin to teeter. Fear that you are far too visible after leaving the cloaked anonymity of the sidewalk. Fear that if Princeton has its own rockets (which is a very real possibility), they could emerge without warning from beneath this stony creation.
You stand, paralyzed, frantically planning the safest escape from this circumferential psychosis; in your peripheral vision you see the leg of a companion. You start to warn them of the looming terror, but the moment they join you atop the stone plane, the fear ebbs. If the stone began to teeter, together you could balance. The eyes of the masses do not cast their gaze upon a lone figure, but rather two in communion. If a rocket were to emerge, you would have someone to cling desperately to as you left this world behind. This, my friends, is Scott Burton’s “Public Table.”
— Katie Bauman, Staff Writer
At first glance it may seem like a giant blob. Upon second glance it may seem a giant blob with spiky hands clapping for you. On third glance, you will want to sit in it and pretend all Princetonians read Rousseau while curled up in the interior of acclaimed British art forms as tourists frolic around you with DSLRs.
I think there’s something I don’t completely understand about this art form, but I shall call it squishy, and it shall be mine, and it shall be my squishy. And though this sculpture seems so green and plain, this must be an artistic masterpiece: Its blobby shape is just so profound and amorphous, ambiguous and provocative. As you walk around the deceptively squishy sculpture, its form seems to morph from one blob to another equally intriguing blob. From the side, it looks like the profile of someone with very high cheekbones, and from afar it looks like two polar bears hugging, but what is it really? It could be an emerald love-nest or an oval with points for all I know.
“Art” they call it. How vague. I prefer the Pokemon, “Ditto.”
— Jessica Ma, Staff Writer
The statue of former Princeton President and signer of the Declaration of Independence John Witherspoon proudly reigns over the walkway in front of East Pyne. From afar, he’s utterly majestic. He’s dressed to the nines and manages to pull off the one-armed lean, using a book for support. Said book rests open atop of a powerfully fierce eagle-orb combo. Judging by the tensely clutched grip of the eagle’s claws on the orb, it seems that this eagle is having some difficulty supporting the weight of a grown man; however, it remains steadfast for our friend J-Dubs.
Besides his glorious posture, the most notable quality of this statue from afar is the fact that it looks extremely old. J-Dubs is completely blue-green. From the looks of it, this statue is much older than that entirely oxidized penny you found under your sofa last week. We’re talking drafty-art-museum, older-than-your-oldest-great-aunt old. When viewed with the backdrop of magnificent East Pyne, the statue exudes classiness and prestige. Subconsciously, it is historic statues like this that make you proud to go to an Ivy League university.
However, within touching distance to J-Dubs, you begin to notice what look to be brushstrokes on Witherspoon’s vest. The plaques, set in the curiously pristine base, are strangely readable. At eye level, you detect sponge painting with seafoam green paint on these plaques. Unfortunately, your nauseating suspicions are confirmed when you actually read one of the plaques: This statue was erected in 2001. Yes, this statue is fake-old. Grudgingly, you feel the statue’s classiness drop down several notches. What, was the ivy on Nassau Hall bought at Michaels?
— Livvy Robbins, Contributor
McCosh Courtyard Pelican:
If campus wasn’t already littered with a heinous amount of ridiculous statues, Princetonians might notice the metallic pelican peering down at them on their way to McCosh. The perched bird seems to gaze condescendingly down on lowly undergraduates stumbling into lectures late. However, she actually doesn’t stare at all. Thorough scrutiny reveals the bird focuses on something else, something almost too horrid to mention: avian suicide.
The pelican pecks at her own heart in an apparent act of Christian symbolism. The mystery behind the Pelican Jesus’ motive in killing herself only becomes more cryptic as focus shifts from the bird to the column supporting it. The pillar has a single sundial that rests above lines of worn engravings, which are not in English, I might add. Perhaps an enlightened linguistics concentrator could successfully interpret the column.
I chose to take away one message from the statue. As I rush by it on the way to early-morning orgo in McCosh 50, I remember not to complain about sacrificing my sleep, because Pelican Jesus sacrificed her life. I may not know exactly why, or under what circumstances that would be necessary, but if she can survive an eternity stuck in the act of killing herself, I can survive my masochistic choice to take organic chemistry.
— Seth Merkin Morokoff, Contributor
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/18/31533/