Marty’s Cube (1983) Review

An image of a long, dark, and seemingly endless metallic shaft with a bright light shining down from behind a completely black cube that is levitating.

Marty’s Cube
Public Art Review

Written by DJ Hadoken

Marty’s Cube was created in 1983 by the renowned public art sculptor, Tony Rosenthal. It was constructed completely of painted steel. It is a very large depiction of a cube, which can be seen as falling through an endless void, where it came to land on a platform on one of its corners. Each side is separated into different pieces, almost like a jigsaw puzzle.

Any person is able to push this cube. When pushing this cube, it is as if the person enters the void that it is in, the cube becomes weightless.

Marty’s Cube is completely black. It defies reality in its appearance. It is like a black hole in the shape of a cube. If you were to pound on the cube with your fist, it would respond to you with a gentle hollow sound (further perplexing the mind).

It is an object of tremendous size, in a position that defies gravity. It appears so dense in its blackness. But in reality, it is very hollow.

Although the construction of Marty’s Cube was probably very simple, the concept of it is very complicated.

It is dirty, very dirty. Between the pieces that make up this cube lay large amounts of dust, dirt and grime. There are a few spider webs too. They are symbolic, as they represent the passage of time and the many journeys this cube has gone through.

There does not seem to be any hidden or specific meaning behind Marty’s Cube. That is the wonder of it- it seems to be open to any interpretation.

And it is the only object within the collection located on the FIU campus that does not suck. I find abstract art (for the most part) totally lame and mondo bogus. It is a genre for lamesters.

I have visited various art exhibitions but the collection at FIU is by far the most lame I have ever seen. Marty’s Cube is the only redeeming aspect to any of it. But that’s just my opinion.

When I gaze upon Marty’s Cube, I can feel that the artist actually tried to design something. I feel that there was an actual amount of skill and talent that must have been used to create it. Some amount of thought.

It is the least abstract of all the works on campus. Because of that, I like it.

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It does force me to try to figure out what it is. It is simple. It is what it is. And its simplicity allows for any type of interpretation.

The title, Marty’s Cube, reminds of the movie Back to the Future (1985). The only Marty I have ever known is the Marty from that movie. Marty McFly was his name.

Perhaps there is some connection between Marty’s Cube and Back to the Future. Perhaps it was one of Doc’s final creations. A cube that could traverse time and space and defy gravity. Perhaps the name Tony Rosenthal, in some alien language, translates to Doc.

It is hard to determine why the artist of this piece chose the color black.

Perhaps Tony was lazy and did not feel like painting the steel he was working with. But this would completely contradict the description on the little blue plate that lies in front of it, which clearly says that Tony did not just use steel and put it together in the shape of a cube.

No. He painted the steel. So says the blue plate.

So then why did Tony decide to use black? I believe that any assortment of bright colors would have made Marty’s Cube much more psychedelic.

Casting color aside, perhaps if Marty’s Cube were covered with mirrors (much like a disco ball), it would be much more interesting. To spin the cube at precisely noon every day would mean scattering hundreds of hot rays of the sun into many a person’s unprepared eyes.

Any invading alien race could easily steal this giant mirror cube and convert it into a weapon of mass destruction. Shooting a single death ray at this cube would cause the ray to scatter and break, creating hundreds of death rays capable of annihilating any unprotected earthlings.

Or maybe Marty’s Cube should have been constructed using neon lights for each major piece of it, to make it look like a giant futuristic cube version of the classic puzzle game Simon.

Something that must be noted, is that strong wind does not typically move Marty’s Cube. On certain days, when it is pushed, it will make a creaking sound. Four people can push the cube at each corner. It will rotate in either direction and is very sturdy.

There is one problem, however, because of the openness of interpretation that this piece invites (and because of what I said before) it must be heeded that there is a very slight possibility that, if Marty’s Cube is allowed to spin at eighty-eight miles-per-hour, those touching it may be transported through time.

If the cube were to spin at this speed, would it look like a sphere?

When Tony (or the Doc) constructed Marty’s Cube, it doesn’t seem as if any sort of console that allows for the user to choose what period of time they will be transported was included.

However, if one were to look hard enough, I am sure that they would be able to find a flux capacitor within the construction of Marty’s Cube. Even the traces of dust and grime (and the occasional empty potato chip bags found within the crevices of the cube) hint at the existence of the fuel system Marty uses in Back to the Future 2, Mr. Fusion.

No other work on campus can boast of such an accessory.


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