A brief visit to London was as ever was buzzing, fast paced, vibrant, exciting and inspiring. London has changed so much over the past 30 years it wreaks 21st century technology, consumerism and power. The city itself holds within it an energy like nothing else. The masses of people that dwell within this hub is mind blowing. We are all there to experience, see, look, inhabit iconic structures, famous streets, works of art etc. and it is always a slightly surreal experience to be there within it all! This amount of people congregating within one place is testimony to the fact that as humans we crave other humans. It is ironic however that as individuals within the city, we very rarely speak to 'other' people other than the people we are with. Without friends, family and money the city is a dangerous and unforgiving place to be.
Galleries were done on our first arrival The Tate, The Drawing Room and The White Cube at Bermondsey. The work of Josiah McElheny 'The Crytsal Land' (seen above) was fabulous. Divided into three sections each section was inspired by an individual artist the artist Robert Smithson, the writer Paul Scheerbart and the physicist Andrei Linde.
'Crystal Landscape Paintings' are influenced by Smithson's lesser known works from 1964-66 and his rejection of 'painting as a window onto the world and assertion of painting as pure surface' he wall reliefs are constructed out of painted metal, glass and mirrors. Inside the chambers the forms allude infinite reflective abstract shapes that play around with the mind; you cant quite work out how this works. The play on real or reality is strong and the concept of reality, space and environment is generated through these multiple forms. Looking at this work made me think about the ice forms I have been making. Looking into these are like looking into infinity, the universe there is a sense of how small we are that we are mere dots and insignificant.
I was also drawn to McElheny’s other work 'Island Universe' (2008) which fused science, information and materiality by using chrome-plated aluminium and glass which was coded with highly accurate scientific information. Collaborating with astronomer David H Weinberg they are an interpretation of a 'pop image' of the Big Bang. Five of these sculptures were suspended presenting the viewer with individual interpretations of this event. The forms create multiple reflections of their own form as well as the viewers body and gallery space. There is no hierarchy in the universe, we are all unique.
Both these works made me reflect on my own work for various reasons; the play on light, reflection, materiality, environment, how we place ourselves within the world questioning about our existence as well as the way it was hung and presented within the gallery space. White walls/cubes show work at its best; no interruption, just the work. Something to keep in mind!
In the third part of the exhibition, the scale of McElheny’s ‘models for worlds’ expands to its largest possible size with the installation Island Universe (2008). Fusing art, science, information and materiality, the installation sets out to describe the world, the universe and the multiverse as a set of infinite, individual possibilities and interpretations. Appearing like a magnificent set of constellations, it comprises five suspended sculptures made from chrome-plated aluminum and glass encoded with highly accurate scientific information. The project was inspired by the aesthetically hybrid, starburst forms of nickel-plated brass and cut-glass crystal chandeliers of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, which were produced by the design company Lobmeyr in Vienna in 1965 and combine both 19th-century and modernist motifs. McElheny saw them as a kind of ‘Pop image of the Big Bang’ and in an extensive collaboration with the astronomer David H Weinberg, went on to create models that depict various alternative interpretations of this event. In Island Universe, he presents a set of possible universes through sculptures whose every element have their own individual, cosmological equivalent. Creating multiple reflections of their own forms, the viewer’s body and the space of the gallery in which they hang, they show us a universe without hierarchy where an infinite number of unique, true histories of the world can coexist.
(http://whitecube.com/exhibitions/josiah_mcelheny_bermondsey_2017/ accessed 6/4/17)
MA Creative Practice