The nonpareil sentinel

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One of the exceedingly beautiful and tall structures in the RIT campus that cannot be missed is The Sentinel situated in the middle of the vast campus area. The thoughtfully designed structure is a definite watch for everyone who walks past it. The Sentinel was built by the famous sculptor, Albert Paley. This design marks as one of the fond artifacts of RIT and will always be renowned for its intellectual display of the culmination of art and technology.

The sculpture looked so artistic that it made me stand there and gaze at it endlessly. Although, I didn’t quite understand the actual reason behind having such a tall structure in the heart of the campus that served no purpose. The scene is quite a delight to watch but what is the point of having it in the middle of the campus that doesn’t provide the students any benefit? Somewhere it looked like a hindrance amidst the walkway.

This structure is associated with the concept of Energia which talks about giving pleasure to the eyes and providing strong significance through its visual depiction. The design is surely exhaustive as it is open to too many interpretations. From one side, it looks like a combination of gigantic geometric instruments such as a ruler, protractor, theodolite and so on. And on the other side it looks like a new technological innovation that probably sends and receives signals. The structure is so carefully built that you wouldn’t notice any particular shape repeating in any side. It gives different views from different sides. The heavy use of steels and stainless steels above the wooden base definitely makes it an abstract creation that evokes a sense of wonder.

However, that’s not it. While I stood there looking endlessly, I was wondering the real purpose behind this construct. I don’t dislike art, but logically speaking when we are investing a huge amount of time, energy, and money we might want to put it to some good use. The lower part which is positioned in the middle of the campus could have been a seating area or a cafe or a glass room to just relax or even a coke booth. At least, that way there is a purpose behind this alluring sight

Reference – https://ritpedia.rit.edu/The_Sentinel

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5 thoughts on “The nonpareil sentinel

  1. I sometimes wonder if art like this isn’t meant to be a conversation starter… Let’s face it, you stand outside watching it and inevitably you say to someone near by “What the heck?!” To me, art like this is like one of those ink blot pictures that you see in it what you want to see. Perhaps the artist had some grand interpretation or vision, or perhaps he just wanted the interpretation to be up to the person who stopped to take a look. It’s like Andy Warhol’s cans of soup pictures. Dude – it’s a can of soup! But – seeing it in a painting evokes memories and gets people talking about it. That, for me, is when art can be really good because it allows us to share our stories and our own history.

  2. I completely agree with you. But my only concern is the place where this huge piece is situated. It is placed in the centre of the campus. One might definitely want to stand for a moment and admire the beauty. It is only for a moment. How many people can really associate with a structure like this? What will you associate it with? It is understandably thought -provoking, however, is that enough? To me, an art is very personal. Something this artistic can’t stand in front of me and not give me a personal connect. I don’t expect myself to think about everything else that is bothering my vision like the inconvenient walkway, its alternative use and so on. An art has to be pure and magical; it has to take us to a different world. That will click when we quickly have a personal bonding towards the beauty.

    • I feel that, regardless of whether a piece of art sparks a personal connection with its viewer, the most important thing is the communication that happens through its design. Looking at a painting or sculpture triggers many thoughts at once, and we try to make sense of what we are seeing even if we are initially confused. It’s especially true with “The Sentinel”, at first glance it can feel like a difficult or unsettling structure, and the good thing is that it is getting a reaction out of us, to the point that we are analyzing its design concerning the communication of a message or possible purpose.

  3. I personally feel that sometimes art gets a little lost in trying to be more or less complex than it actually is. For example, the infinity quad rotating symbol. It is not an infinity symbol from all angles, but standing there for one rotation clarifies and justifies the name. With the sentinel, I have tried to look at it from various perspectives, and it never fits the “man-on-a-horse” description it is supposed to have. It might be that it takes a certain mental derivation to see it in that context, but when the right way to view an artwork needs to be pointed out, it just feels less stimulating than it aspires to be, particularly with something as beautiful as this specimen.

  4. First, I’m going to remove the cost of the sculpture from the equation, because I agree it’s hard to accept the use of that much money for a sculpture when it could have been used at least partially to accomodate student services in some way.

    This was a great example of enargeia. I agree with the others in that it is a conversation starter and stimulates thought. It also makes you wonder or imagine – to try to figure it out. It may provide a moment where it distracts students or just offers them something they’ve never encountered before. Is it a concrete depiction such as a bowl of fruit on a table? No, but I actually find something like this more interesting in that it makes you really look at it to try to figure it out. It offers shapes and materials that you may not find in combination (certainly at that size) elsewhere.

    I have not been to visit this sculpture (online student, so I do not visit campus), but I will say if I do visit, I’d like to see it and study it for a bit.

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