Both Tom Otterness’ Kindly Gepetto and Kevin Buckley’s musical interpretation nod to the complexity of Gepetto’s intentions in the story, Pinoccio. Otterness’ sculpture is a large round bronze figure who is crafting an identical figure in his hand with a mallet. Both figures are childlike - almost innocent looking.
Buckley’s musical score shares a similar aesthetic. The piece is almost cartoonish in tenor and sounds as if might be a slightly more lethargic cousin of Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse.” I can easily hear the track back a Looney Tunes cartoon of a toy manufacturing company.
However, both pieces hint at something a little more ominous. The larger of the two figures in Otterness’ sculpture is frowning while preparing to to strike the smaller figure with a mallet. Its unclear to me what the frown suggests - perhaps danger, caution, sadness, or maybe even anger.
Buckley’s score has darker overtones as well. There is a jarring percussive edge to the score that hints of the sound of grinding of machines - like a caucaphonous toy factory cranking out toys by the thousands.
Perhaps both pieces ability to contrast innocence with danger suggest a bit of a cautionary tale of the potentially outcomes between man (Gepetto) and machine (Pinoccio). After all, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
St. Louis 2014