Sarah Sze and Disambiguation
Sarah Sze: Infinite Line
Asia Society Museum, New York City
December 13, 2011 - March 25, 2012
Sarah Sze’s complex installations of everyday materials—notepads, ladders, plastic utensils, etc.—received the attention of the art world’s trend-seeking eye a few years ago, but are no less deserving now. Attention spans aside, Sze’s effort at the Asia Society Museum is a look into the role of line—literal and figurative—within her work. Exemplified by careful placement and an interest in gravity and weightlessness, Sze’s sculptural work creates a lyrical physical experience that choreographs how we move through a space and think about light, perspective and scale. Its two-dimensional counterpart, a selection of works from 1996 to the present, utilize line and collage strategies to create images that blur perspectival fields (macro vs. micro) and the distinctions between the flat and sculptural. In some sense, Sze’s work has always addressed these connections and contrast. Her installation photographs are beautifully considered images that not only document the sculptural object, but also examine light and space in two-dimensions. Here the sculpture becomes a prop for a photograph or drawing, and the often overly-emphasized line between media dissolves further. This bending of the distinction between spaces, objects and formal elements is the core of Sze’s work and her skillful manipulation of these elements provides for a beautiful and rich viewing experience that is not to be missed.
Eric Zimmerman is an artist and Editor of ...might be good.
The scientific method is fully glamorized in Max Marshall and Andrea Nguyen’s collaborative exhibition, Disambiguation. Using Wikipedia as a source of inspiration, the artists recreated images that accompany entries about different scientific concepts. Each color photograph is approached with high aesthetic flair, yet is constructed in a straightforward way that maintains the integrity of the scientific principle it represents. At times the bright colors and shiny surfaces may seem indulgent, but it only adds to the irony of the work which debunks the idea of scientific theory as a bland, purely technical field of study, but one of curiosity and fascination. The visual approach used in the picture plane to flatten objects into two-dimensionality, or the application of colors and patterns to complicate the surface of the images, adds a playful sense of ambiguity. In Caramelization (Sugar Cube) (2012), four sugar cubes balance impossibly on top of each other on a pitch-black background. The white cubes seem to resist their dimensionality, failing to recede into the background, and an amber drip of caramelized sugar runs down their sides looking as if it were floating on top of the surface of the image itself. Though the photographs are strong enough to stand alone, the most intriguing component of the exhibition is its relationship within the public sphere. After completing the series, the artists submitted the photographs to Wikipedia to use in place or in addition to the images that originally influenced their own. Several of them have been accepted and can be viewed by searching for the appropriate scientific term. The idea of changing the context in which the work is viewed adds another layer of complexity to the body of work, challenging artist intent and who the audience is. Whether you are interested in contemporary photography, scientific phenomena or the curatorial process of Wikipedia, Disambiguation demonstrates that within the frame of a photograph, they can cohabitate quite nicely.
Emily Ng is an artist and Production Associate at Fluent~Collaborative.