Daniel G. Baird considers ideas endemic to Western society of culture and technology, often subverting ideas of technological progress with juxtapositions of their primitive translations. Baird, a Master of Fine Arts candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago, predominantly works through sculpture using found objects and those of his own creation.
The artist frequently makes use of CNC cut models, as evidenced by his 2007 collaboration with fellow SAIC graduate Robert Andrade. Titled “A Moon of Saturn Resting on a Doric Foundation,” the sculpture pairs the landscape of Titan—the terrain believed by scientists to closest resemble the environmental conditions of the Earth—with the Parthenon, an ancient representation of advanced human civilization. Here, Baird and Andrade collapse numerous centuries, subtly highlighting the innumerable, sometimes prodigal events accounting for our currently screwed up civilization, and consequent desire to inhabit an untapped alien world.
Baird similarly packages time in his 2007 piece Homo Habilis Hand Axe. Accredited with creating the most primitive of tools, the hand axe, the Homo habilis is an early ancestor of the Homo sapien. The artist acquired a batch of flint, transforming it into his own Homo habilis-style hand axe, which looks like a dagger made of rock. The tool was then sent to a 3D modeling company to be scanned into a computer. The company, which usually recreates artifacts for museums, manufactures (supposedly) exact replicas of much lesser value, allowing institution visitors a tactile experience with the object. The effect is similar to the French government’s recreation of the Lascaux Paleolithic cave paintings: it was discovered that only fifteen years worth of human contact with the caves noticeably damaged their paintings—in response the French government created Lascaux II, an exact reproduction of select cave halls only 200 meters from the original. Similarly, Baird created an exact replica of his own artifact, although for a different purpose. In effect, the artist recreated the hand axe to test the efficacy of the computer in reproducing the most primitive version of itself—the tool. Reticent to spell out exactly what may be lost in the process, the artist simply offers the original and its computed progeny side-by-side, allowing the viewer to contemplate the technological progress of eons.