Kyle Bean Gets Domestic and Very Complicated
We all grew up admiring Rube Goldberg Machines, those overly complex machines that ultimately do little more than transfer a marble from one end to the other, or perhaps do as much as turn a page in a book or pour a glass of juice. Goldberg offered these machines in the form of drawings, drawing his audience in to experience the machine and power it with their imagination, literally. The machine becomes real in the space of imagination. But for Kyle Bean, that was never quite enough. “It’s a really nice storytelling device. There’s something really charming about seeing a very simple action, but in a way that’s slightly overly complicated,” Kyle explains. “We’re used to see those Rube Goldberg drawings and ever since I was a kid I always liked the idea of representing it in a more physical place, having fun with actually making my own version of it.” So now Kyle makes as many of them in real life as he can. Just recently he completed five different set ups in collaboration with photographer Jonathan Knowels and Art Director Lauren Catten.
The trio brainstormed a bunch of ideas, but ultimately settled on an aesthetic that would play off the hilarious superfluity of the machines. “The thing that we all really liked the idea of was bringing it to a domestic level and using objects that you could find in your kitchen, things that would have a level of humor and relatability,” says Kyle. “We really wanted to play on that and come up with some scenarios that are just plainly ridiculous but use every day things that you might have around your house.” The final set ups include dishwashing rubber gloves, biscuits and coffee, a spray bottle, and a dustpan. One of them even makes a sandwich for a break while cleaning.
If you’re familiar with Kyle’s work you’ll notice that the colors used in this project are a little different from what he usually uses. That’s partly purely on account of the collaborative nature of the project, but also because as a team they wanted to communicate the familiarity of the domestic objects. By using quieter colors and exposed wood, the pieces feel much more personal and recognizable. “That was important because you need to have those elements of natural materials to remind people that these are simple objects and domestic things and it’s a real set up,” explains Kyle. “I think if it were all made of plastic perhaps it wouldn’t feel quite, it wouldn’t have that same warmth to it.” That little bit of a human touch keeps the wit of the compositions alive, it keeps them surprising, and it keeps us wanting more.