Michael Glock's Survival Furniture


When Matisse said that 'art should be like a comfortable armchair' it is doubtful that he had in mind the possibility of such works of art as Michael Glock's 'Survival Furniture'. However, in arts new age, Glock has gone some way to prove that 'furniture' can be the unlikely medium for opening out possibilities of would be - cosmic dimensions and experiences.

This exhibition was made up of eight pieces: two dining tables, two coffee tables, one large, modular, storage unit, one rolling trolley, two-three-panel folding screens. All the works are 'functional', and each has been made in an edition of three.

It is unusual, to say the least, to see furniture exhibited in a dealer gallery in New Zealand (though there was a memorable exhibition of painted screens shown at the Barry Lett Galleries, seven or eight years ago). A discussion with Michael Glock threw light on his decidedly original approach to his pieces of furniture/art.

mixed media  Photograph: Albert Sword/Alric

When he calls his works 'Survival Furniture' he has in mind a furniture for the future that will be at once art and the transmitter of a high technology - one that to him equates as hope, growth, humanism. The surfaces of his pieces are sprayed with a cerulean blue that evokes the sky (or limitless space) and further 'ornamented' with white clouds. (At work here are certain applications of principles of camouflage and a sensitivity to colour perspective.) As Clock puts it: 'This furniture lives beyond the banal and mediocre. It exists with the primal energy of our globe; blue and white clouds (convey the) succulent perfection of mankind's idealism.' The clouds are 'ornamentation on a lavish scale; the applied decoration of a visual surface; a total mimicry of a natural phenomenon'.

Glock has invented a new expression to fit these works: Scisign Fiction. He sees this as 'a combination of Science Fiction and Design in the form of Functional Fiction' . . .'Survival furniture. It is responsible fantasy' . . .'Survival Furniture is similar to Science Fiction. Science Fiction is the literature of change. It has arisen to explain, to warn, to explore, to design and humanise the future and psychologically prepare us. We can avoid technological future shock.'

Whatever one thinks of Michael Glock's 'Survival Furniture' - its success or failure to live up to the kaleidoscope expression of his intentions - he must be given full credit to having introduced something new into the local exhibitions scene. It will be interesting now to see how he can develop his ideas, how he can translate them into works that will be effective in transforming the environment of the rooms in which we live, create, and dream.

Originally published in Art New Zealand 23 Autumn 1982