As a part of his latest solo exhibit, Robert Barta‘s new installation CROSSING HALF A MILLION STARS is impressive looking as an installation. Barta means the number literally. The floor of the gallery space is filled with 500,000 ball bearings – that’s half a million eight millimeter steel balls. However, the installation is also a means to a performance and audience engagement. Visitors are invited to walk across the field of bearings…very carefully. The visitors pay extra care and attention to the typically simple task of walking. CROSSING HALF A MILLION STARS allows visitors to consider the space, their actions, and each other just a bit differently. Really, this theme persists through the exhibit in its entirety.
The artwork of Hans Kotter is decidedly centered around light. Here Kotter creates tubes of lights that appear to stretch on infinitely into the wall. He uses color changing LED lights that shine behind a warped one way mirror. The backing mirror then duplicates the LED lights infinitely. Kotter’s piece are continually changing as the color of the lights gradually shift and as the viewer moves about the room. Though technically constructed from Plexiglas, mirrors, and diodes, it is really the light endlessly bouncing between the mirrors that compose Kotter’s work.
Zander Olsen wraps white fabric around trees to “intervene” with the organic lines of a landscape, often blurring our sense of foreground and background to generate a jarring sense of flatness. Olsen suggests such compositions convey a new “visual relationship between tree, not-tree and the line of horizon according to the camera’s viewpoint.” As a result, the lush wonders of Wales, Surrey, and Hampshire are transformed into beautiful abstract images, with pops of white.
Kristian Burford’s art installations meditate on the postmortem state of sexual arousal without a partner present. Nestled in a messy realistic setting, each carefully constructed wax figure seems to sigh inward, recollecting him or herself after an erotic whim has been satiated. However, the intention does not stop there: it seethes and penetrates with primal implications. Encountering each diorama, our own interior worlds are challenged and heightened as we find ourselves cast to confront not so much nudity, but even more so, our own erotic inclinations as possible voyeurs.
Artist Ivan Navarro is known for his work with neon and fluorescent lighting. Using the lights in with a one-way mirror and a regular mirror Navarro’s sculpture to extend endlessly. They appear to extend on into infinite darkness, adding a weighty metaphorical layer to his artwork. His work conveys a certain uneasiness with each pieces ambiguous text, which exacerbated by the visual abyss. “There is a certain amount of fear in my pieces”, he has appropriately said. “I make spaces in a fictional way to deal with my own psychological anxiety.”
Artist Motoi Yamamoto is known for his sprawling installations entirely composed of carefully poured salt. His newest installation Charlotte, North Carolina’s Mint Museum is titled Floating Garden. Existing for slightly under a month, the community was invited to ‘dismantle’ the installation. A huge swirling pattern, one familiar from nature, covers the floor. Upon closer inspection, the hurricane-like shape is a tight network of neat lines of salt. Salt is replete with symbolism in Western culture but has special meaning in Japanese culture. The museum explains:
“Salt, a traditional symbol for purification and mourning in Japanese culture, is used in funeral rituals and by sumo wrestlers before matches. It is frequently placed in small piles at the entrance to restaurants and other businesses to ward off evil spirits and to attract benevolent ones. Motoi forged a connection to the substance while mourning the death of his sister, at the age of twenty-four, from brain cancer, and began to create art out of salt in an effort to preserve his memories of her.” [via]
Dutch artists Thomas voor ‘t Hekke and Bas van Oerle make up the duo known as Front 404. While their work varies in medium it is consistent in being humorously subversive. For example, their project Plantmines is a sort of landmine that is constructive rather than destructive. Unaware passersby step on and discharge the plant mine sending colored powder and confetti into the air. More importantly, though, the confetti contains flower seeds that are intended to eventually grow at the site of the “blast”. The duo says of the project:
“You’ve stepped on a Plantmine, and the explosion of flower confetti serves as an instant party to celebrate that you live in a country where you don’t have to worry about stepping on a real landmine. The flower confetti contains flower seeds, to create a permanent happy and colourful spot in the place of the plantmine explosion.”
Check out the video to see a Plantmine or two blow up.
Brooklyn based artists Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen have been collaborating since 2005. Together they create expansive installations that fill gallery spaces. The installations’ size forces visitors to interact with it. Made from natural materials such as wood and paper, their work carries an organic atmosphere. The installations often resemble trees or entire forests, mangled, twisting and growing. The paper seems to be giving a nod to its origin as an almost ironic choice of material.