"Cut us in half, we're all the fucking same." – Damien Hirst
Hirst’s bravado may hold true to the world of sneakers. What is a sneaker if not anything other than a vessel to contain and protect your foot? Cut any shoe in half and the empty cavity within it is always the same in shape if not size. Cut any mammal in half for that matter and they will all have mammary glands a gut and a spine. Why then do it and what is there to learn?
Simultaneously being able to see the outside and the inside of something is somewhat of a childish but ever real fascination for many. From the gore enthusiasts to the scientifically minded, or from the weak stomached to simply curious, thousands upon thousands have marveled at Damien Hirst’s spliced cows and sheep. Such a fascination I do share but I hasten to add that it has also crossed my mind to adapt Hirst’s technique to discover what sort of world exists inside other forms that don’t necessarily live and breathe. For instance, why not consider an object such as a shoe? With Hirst’s animals one’s awareness is attuned to be in the presence of death. The basic impossibility that death can be cheated after being cut in half is something that we are aware of even from the youngest of ages. But this is a rule only relevant to what lives and breathes.
However, to adopt a similar stance to cutting a shoe in half is not that drastically different. After all, the shoe is completely ineffectual once sawn in half. It cannot function without all its parts being together in exactly the same way an animal cant live without being whole. By substituting function for life, the action of sawing a shoe in half to reveal its inner workings is as effective in destroying its function as sawing an animal in half is to kill it. By experimenting in such practices the question is do we learn more about the living by dealing with the dead? Dissection after all is a scientific way of looking at something and a way to then explain it.
Keeping that all in mind, lets then have a look at my collection of dead shoes titled ‘Natural History’ and see if there is any truth in it all.