publication of the International Sculpture Center
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Galston, Ice Forest, 2000-2003.
Urethane resin and monofilament, 8 x 8 x 4 ft.
Presence of Light
In the early 1960s sculpture went electric. Dan Flavin's assemblages of
linear fluorescent light tubes, arranged as pillars or box constructions,
transformed the medium of sculpture from mass into luminescence, competing
with painting's ability to model light with color. Flavin's work made
technology and science part of the creative aesthetic. The contemporary
work on view in "Presence of Light," curated by Kathleen Gilrain,
revealed how several sculptors have developed a more elastic use of light
within three-dimensional form. These artists take the relationship of
sculpture and light to a different level, conveying a number of ways that
light manifests itself within three-dimensional works of art.
The show opened with
a large folded-paper construction by Kirsten Hassenfeld, whose work was
initially introduced in a solo show at Bellwether Gallery in New York.
Parure (2003), an intricately large charm resting on a light box, emitted
radiance into the dimly lit space. Transforming luxurious objects like
jewelry into gigantic sculptures, Hassenfelds work uses light to
capture the glow of material wealth while teasing the viewer with what
cannot be owned.
Simon Lee, whose
work appeared in Open at the Brooklyn Museum, used the light-box
form as a mechanism to transmit visual information. Lee assembled a six-foot-square
structure, Unflooded (2003), that contained water tanks filled with floating
objects. The two lights shining into the water from above projected the
silhouettes of the tanks contents onto a wall directly opposite.
Altering the amount of water in each tank caused the silhouettes to move
ever so slightly.
appeared in the work of four artists. Furusato (1998) by Kim Koga was
an open suitcase that contained several glass-blown bottles filled with
different colors of phosphorescence. Behind the bright pink, green, orange,
and blue, Koga attached a text to the lid that read, Unearthing
Bottles, Evidence of Existence Travelling Backwards. The installation
Airlines (2004), by Alejandro and Moira Sina, consisted of several thin,
orange rods of electrode-less neon. Suspended from the ceiling and allowed
to oscillate, the piece drew attention to the visibility of distant objectsin
this case, to the linear form of an airplane as it approaches a destination.
Sheila Mosss Night Fishers (2000) had the most sublime effect. In
a separate room, Moss hung strands of white string throughout the small
space and wound several groups of cotton swabs across each length. Once
the room was darkened by a timer, the installation consisted of tiny firefly
glows arranged in the form a long winding helix.
Hassenfeld, Parure, 2003. Paper with mixed media, 3 x 4 x 3 ft.
Natural light was central
to Beth Galstons Ice Forest (200003). Several rods of clear
urethane resin hung in the form of a square beneath a skylight. Cast in
the form of long icicles, Galstons work mimicked nature in material
form, but her work depended on the presence of natural light during the
day. The process of refraction, as it intersects with surfaces to form a
visual object, appeared in Imprint Window (2002) by Julia Shepley. The work
consisted of two frames of glass that had been punched in, before the material
was able to completely solidify.
Together these artists
prove that sculpture no longer needs light to be seen; instead, it can
itself become a shelter for light. But since light is ephemeral, these
pieces remain similar to the light-based work of 40 years ago. Light-based
work always needs a particular environment to function properly.
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