By: Caroline Oliver, Director of Development & Marketing, KW|AG
Installation view of Circling the Inverse Square (artwork by: Jessica Eaton, Marla Hlady)
Circling the Inverse Square, on view at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery until January 5, 2014, examines the intersections between science and art, making connections to ways of working and ways of looking at art. The title, which refers to a 1996 article in the journal Nature, offers a wonderful analogy for the exhibition. Circles and squares are two of the most basic shapes there are and although they appear to be simple – they can also be very complex. Similarly, at first glance the works in the exhibition may appear to be simple and straight forward, but a deeper understanding of the process behind the art-making reveals many levels of meaning and complexity. You may not be seeing what you think you are seeing.
The six Canadian artists in Circling the Inverse Square are interested in creating their own language as they explore the forces of time, space and logic that affect our everyday lives.
In the five large format photographs by Jessica Eaton, what you see is not the reality of what happened in the process of making the work. These images were created using an analogue process in a studio setting, with the colour in the work added from inside the camera box — the colours are created by the film itself. In her more recent works, the artist herself doesn’t know what the end result will be. Looking at them we trust our eyes to be telling us the concrete reality, and we think we know what we are seeing – but we don’t.
Shannon Anderson, during the Curator’s Tour, discussing Jessica Eaton’s series of photographs.
Richard Sewell’s wherelocal/circling depicts an idiosyncratic and personal mapping system, using drawing and sculptural techniques. Each object included in the work incorporates different elements, and has its own meaning which is clarified in the accompanying legend.
Visitors at the reception viewing Richard Sewell’s piece, wherelocal/circling.
The artist uses notional devices to identify where we are in space, what’s close to us and how we experience space. He uses a combination of the intuitive, balanced with logic. And because how we figure out where we are constantly changes, the work is installed differently every time it is shown. Sewell uses non-precious materials that he finds at DIY and hardware stores, seeing artistic potential in anything; the potential in the everyday.
Karilee Fuglem’s work explores the relationship between the human body and celestial bodies, combining the microscopic and the macroscopic in one installation. The photographs at the entrance to the Gallery, Out Here in Space, show hugely magnified images of pores and markings on the artist’s body, which look like constellations and patterns from outer space. Her installation in the smaller gallery, somewhere behind my heart, is a monofilament construction suspended from the ceiling that looks like a giant spider’s web. The work is anchored to the floor with a series of weights, which form a pattern that relates to the actual star patterns in Kitchener that we can see at this time of year, giving a physical presence to what happens on an individual level and the space beyond.
Visitors take in Shannon Anderson’s insights about Karilee Fuglem’s piece somewhere behind my heart
In Marla Hlady’s sound events the artist uses her own language to represent sounds, exploring the question of how sound becomes music, and translating from one sense to another. Her images use a mapping strategy to give a concrete form to sound, to explore how sound is manifest, how it magnifies and comes apart, and how things move through space and time in relationship to sound.
With her Soundball (Dancehauling) piece, viewers are invited to help shape the work by (gently!) manipulating two metal sound balls. Experience what happens to the rhythmic patterns of the guitar notes and foot-tapping soundtrack.
Visitors playing Marla Hlady’s Soundball (Dancehauling)
Three works by Adam David Brown are included in the show: Eclipse, White noise, and Nowhere. The latter two employ cut paper techniques to create a physical distance and a sense of ongoing space with no limit.
Installation view of Adam David Brown’s Eclipse (on the left) and White Noise (on the right).
White noise (titled after the scientific term that describes all frequencies of sound gathered together) consists of many layers of overlapping sheets of paper, all slightly modified, creating a subtle sense of dimension that is barely perceptible; in Nowhere we see what appear to be worm holes or black holes receding away from us into space, giving form to the invisible.
Eclipse includes equations and formulas by Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking that are written over and over again in multiple layers on a chalkboard. By contrast, the centre of the chalkboard is a perfect unmarked pristine black circle given shape by a stark white line. The effect produced by this contrast is a shift in surfaces, creating the illusion that the black circle is a hole that goes beyond our perception.
And in Charles Stankievech’s Gravity’s Rainbow, the sound you hear is the last groove, the sounds at the end of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon repeated endlessly. Do not attempt to adjust the equipment – this is as the artist intended it to be! Slide projectors are used to create two reflections on the wall that suggest the patterns of Saturn’s rings.
Both Gravity’s Rainbow, which is also the title of a novel by Thomas Pynchon, and the Dark Side of the Moon LPs were released in 1973. A copy of the album cover forms part of the display; on it, the iconic prism image depicts a spatial star analysis in which light from space is pulled through a prism and conveys information about density and heat.
View of Charles Stankievech’s installation for Gravity’s Rainbow.
As this exhibition demonstrates, art and science are not such strange bedfellows – working in tandem they offer a rich viewing experience that challenges the senses and provides much food for thought.
Prepared with notes from Curator’s tours conducted by exhibition curator Shannon Anderson, and KW|AG’s Senior Curator Crystal Mowry.