Kavad 4.5 — two foamboard sheets later


Kavad 4.5Rather than make another video, this time I made some photographs to show Kavad 4.5 in various stages of openness or closed-ness. At first, I was going to take the pictures on my desk, but that proved impractical. The doors didn’t open properly, and I couldn’t get around it on all sides. (The wonderful painting in the background is by my friend Sou MacMillan, an amazing artist and a wonderful poet and writer).

Anyway, back to Kavad 4.5. The original plan was to have the kavad be a double-cube, but this is proving complicated.  It’s going to involve a lot of geometry and weird angles, and I may not be able to put as many different panels into the completed object as I’d like.  As it is, it’s pretty sophisticated.

This prototype is built of two 30×40″ sheets of foam board.  They were cut with an Xacto utility knife, which is designed for this sort of work, and the hinges are all made of those duct-tape squares that you can get at Staples or Michael’s, usually on sale.Kavad 4.5

Fully opened, the kavad has (apparently) forty different surfaces for painted images or text, which means that it could serve well for a lot of functions.  Each panel could be subdivided into a number of scenes or particular images, in order to increase the amount of information the kavad could carry.  Additionally, in the ‘shrine area’ within the centermost space, there is easily space for two more doors, as long as they are on pivots and not hinges.  This would also make possible the appearance of pillars within.

The top part was a little wobbly without any internal structure, so for playfulness’ sake I assembled a cross-shape to mount within the shrine.  The cross suggested itself by the fact that I had one long bar that was long enough to go from top to bottom, but no cross pieces unless I assembled them in an odd way, which I did… and then discovered I had a cross if I moved them just so.  Not wishing to explicitly make it a Christian icon, even though it’s sort of unavoidable, I added some doors to the interior ceiling of the shrine, and to the sides of the uprights of the cross…. but these served only to maximize the “Christian aspects” of the story told, as I may show in tomorrow’s art efforts.  That’s not a disaster, but it does limit the particular value of this prototype… back to that in a moment.

Kavad 4.5Any of the photographs in this post will take you to the rest of the photo tour of Kavad 4.5, should you want to see them.  As you’ll see if you click through, it’s mostly a lot of white foam-board held together with duct-tape, and none of it particularly cut with any precision or accuracy. Towards the end of tonight’s efforts, I was actually just measuring ‘by eye’ and with rough pencil sketches, rather than being careful at all.  I’d already decided to ruin two foam-boards, so I might as well go  for it.

One of the challenges I now face is… do I consider this prototype “done”?

Not really. Because as my friend Daniel says, “build the whole prototype, out to its logical conclusion.  And since this is a storytelling device, I think it makes sense to build the whole prototype, including the story.  Even if all the pieces and parts aren’t in place yet, even if the doors and panels don’t stay open, even if the images I draw onto the kavad are crude or unimpressive, it’s still a good way of showing how the device is supposed to work.  And I can then make a video for you all, showing how the kavad could work in theory.  It’s more likely to get you all, my audience, excited about the possibilities, and maybe convince a few of you to build your own versions of this.

As for me, I’ve already got a clear idea of what story I’m going to be telling using this kavad.  The interior shrine contains a Cross, and so — love it or hate it — there’s going to be a rough-and-ready version of some Bible stories I know on this storytellers’ box, in sharpie marker probably, over the next day or two.  I can’t guarantee that it will be pretty, though, because the goal is not to produce great art, but to figure out some of the challenges I face in moving from kavad 4.5 (architecture) to 4.7-9 (architecture plus narrative), to 5.0 (an entirely new kavad that tells a story I’m maybe not as familiar with, but that I’ve decided needs to be the topic of the one that I build in wood…).

Thoughts, comments, friendly jibes, opinions and questions welcome.


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