anna paluch

Playing with Perspective

Like the fantastical drawings of early physicists, artist John Chervinsky composes photographs which seem to defy explanation, but also inspire curiosity. The artists’ series, An Experiment in Perspective (2003-2010) re-imagines the space of the still life as one where optics “challenge sensory perception”, similar to the works of graphic artist M.C. Escher

The artists’ background in engineering and applied physics brings another dimension to the series. Our perception of mathematics and the laws of physics become distorted, some elements seeming to float in space. One may begin to wonder if some of the found objects within the photographs have any relation to each other, or is this another layer of perspective play?

Another observable layer is the perspective of medium; are these photographs of still life, or photographs of sculptures, which are themselves works of art. There are more questions than answers in Chervinsky’s work, but that is what seems to be the point. If no one ever asked questions on how things work, we’d have no experiments, scientists, engineers, even artists.

-Anna Paluch


Rock ‘n’ Roll Nature

There’s a cool record out on the market by Swedish group Shout Out Louds. Why is it so cool? It’s made of ice.

Bad puns aside, the band’s record, “Blue Ice” (2012) defies expectations of audio playing, creating a record that you have to maintain over time, either keeping it in the freezer after one play, or making yourself a whole new one again. When you purchase the record, it comes with a silicon mold and a bottle of distilled water, which apparently is better than regular water as it minimizes the “formation of air bubbles in the ice that made the needle jump”.

If records melting over time aren’t your thing, perhaps a laser-cut wooden record is? Artist Amanda Ghassaei, who previously used a 3-D printer to make her own record, has moved on to laser cutting slices of wood. For “Laser Cut Record” (2013) Ghassaei created a program that is “modified for any song, material, cutting machine, record size, and turntable speed”. The artist even provides instructions on how to make your own laser-cut wooden record.

Artist Bartholomäus Traubeck managed a similar feat, except instead of embedding music onto wood or ice, he uses the already present markings on his material to create music. In “Years” (2011) the artist takes a slice of a tree and through a specially designed machine is able to ‘play’ the tree rings that have naturally formed over time (you can literally say that these records took decades to produce). Instead of using a conventional needle, sensors are used to “gather information about the wood’s color and texture and use an algorithm that translates variations into piano notes”, creating a hauntingly beautiful symphony.

-Anna Paluch


Tradition and Tech

Contemporary art and technology are filled with new ideas, innovations. Many artists prefer to focus on new medias or changing aesthetics, but it is possible to create work that is both new and traditional. Artists such as Ngatai Taepa and Sonny Assu use aesthetic elements from their Indigenous cultures, Māori and Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw respectively, to create a dialogue between tradition and modern.

Using traditional elements such as the kōwhaiwhai pattern, Taepa’s works merge forms inspired by nature, and recreates them in his own way, exploring “positive and negative space, line work, the pītau [plant shoot] and the kape [eyebrow] patterns, and the way they were originally laid down.” The artist preserves the knowledge of these patterns and traditions, but now for new audiences and interpretations. The work “Tane Pupuke” (2014) for example, is visually reminiscent of a circuit board, but still maintains the distinct kōwhaiwhai pattern.

Where Taepa’s natural forms take on the look of technological elements, artist Sonny Assu takes tech objects, such as iPods, and bends the devices and earphones to become fluid shapes, interacting with traditional shapes found in Northwest Coast art. In his series “iDrum”, Assu combines the tradition of image (for example, ovoids) and object (the drum) with representations of the ‘new’ image and object; today, the iPod has replaced the drum as music creator, but the iPod does not hold the same spiritual and cultural value as the drum. Through these works, Assu creates “dialogue towards the use of consumerism, branding and technology as totemic representation”, often with a hint of humour.

-Anna Paluch


Beautification and Conservation

Winter is both a devastating and beautiful season, with both picturesque scenes of snow-capped pines and power-outages and ice storms. The monotone colours of white and grey encourage the creation of minimalist designs, such as the snow drawings of artist Sonja Hinrichsen. With the help of sixty volunteers, the artist trekked up to Catamount Lake in Colorado, creating the immense “Snow Drawings at Catamount Lake” (2013) piece.

The artist used this project to not only show the volunteers the amazing results of combining nature and art, but to show anyone who views the images the results of such a collaboration. As the artist states, “this changes our perception of the landscape and accentuates the beauty and magic of the natural environment, and thus inspires awe and appreciation for art as well as for nature”.

Another individual who encourages creative expression in colder environments is former engineer Chewang Norphel. Though his work is not ‘artistic’, the project itself is a creative approach to combat issues of global warming that ravage his people in the Trans-Himalaya area. He has managed to actually create ten artificial mini-glaciers that supply water to 10,000 people; important especially for those living in the desert areas of that region. During the winter months, water flows from pipes into the ground so the pipes do not freeze and burst; Norphel decided to mimic this and “divert the winter ‘waste’ water from its course down the mountain, along regularly placed stone embankments that would slow it down and allow it to spread and trickle across a large surface depression…here, the slowed water would freeze and pack”, creating the DIY glacier.

The Winter season is a surprisingly perfect time for creative thinking and starting projects. Sometimes we may think of different ways to add to the aesthetics of the snowy landscape, with a few snow angels, snow people, or even intricate patterns made with footprints.

Or, winter can also inspire change, which could help the environment and future generations.

-Anna Paluch


Art That Gets You Thinking!

The brain is a complex biological structure, which works like a machine; or perhaps it is the machine that works like a brain? Two artists, Greg Dunn and Nicolas Baier approach the subject of the brain in different ways, yet both are able to portray the beauty and complexity of one of our most important organs.

With a PhD in neuroscience, Dunn has seen the inner working of the brain under a microscope many times. Working with neurons, he began to see patterns which inspired him to become an artist. Painting these neurons “in the sumi-e (ink wash painting) style”, Dunn used as few brushstrokes as possible to mimic the intricacy of the neurons. Soon, the patterns became more fluid, not exact replicas of the neuron patterns Dunn witnessed under his microscope, but almost ‘new’ neurons, ones which could only be seen on paper, rather than under a microscope.

Artist Nicolas Baier takes his inspiration more from the function of the brain as a memory holder. His works “Engrams (the world of ideas)” (2013) and “Neurones” (2013) play with the “complexity of the living reticular system compared to the rigidity of computer servers”, juxtaposing a computer system-like sculpture with an image manipulated to look like neurons within the same exhibition space. Baier’s work “questions access to the knowledge of reality and the very complex transmission of knowledge” and also what impact this knowledge structure has on our memories and brain function.

Two artists, working in various mediums, but both creating art that makes us think!

-Anna Paluch