04 Jan 2017 • Book
Translucent materials and fractal shapes sculpt unseen physical forces
NEW YORK – In advance of her upcoming exhibition in New York next month, here we look at Alyson Shotz’s sculptures and investigate the sense that the physical forms are the support act, with an aim to revealing the natural forces that inhabit a space.
Plane Weave (2016) (photo: Barbara Katus) is a metallic sculpture that's flexible and translucent, with connecting planes that respond to gravity, space, tension, weight and materiality.
Working closely with engineers and scientists, Shotz sets herself the seemingly impossible challenge of sculpting the unseen. ‘I’m compelled by mystery, especially the mystery of nature, and the forces that structure everything we know and experience,’ she explains. Fascinated by scientific models of representation, Shotz has completed artist residencies at Stanford and Yale in an attempt to translate the mysteries of science into something that can be experienced with the body, rather than just learnt. ‘I want the viewer to be able to move in and around my work, and change the work as they do so’.
Scattering Screen (2016) explores the space between things, with its small mirrored circles that reflect light and scatter the visible surroundings into thousands of tiny pieces.
This explains Shotz’s interest in materials that have a translucent or ethereal quality, such as glass, dichroic film and mirrors. These materials allow her sculptures to constantly change as the viewer’s perspective changes, or as the light moves around the space at different points in the day. ‘I’m not focused on the materials themselves, but in their behaviour in relation to light or gravity. I’m interested in how they can break up and refract a sense of space. The sculptures become a kind of exponential cubism, and instead of seeing things from several viewpoints, you see things from thousands of fractured perspectives.’
Geometry of Light (2011) (photo: Jeremie Souteyra) is made up of Fresnel lens sheets and glass beads that distort natural light.
For Shotz, this exploration of the world’s complexity is inextricably linked to her experience of digital technology. On the most superficial level, her work resembles bright colour palettes and fractal patterns that we associate with the digital realm. But more than this, it’s an attempt to explore the spiralling complexity of a world where the more information we’re exposed to, the less we seem to be able to truly absorb.
Wave Equation (2010) sees over 500 supple piano wires suspended from a 3-m-high scaffold creating a sculpture that curves under its own weight.
‘I think the experience of the digital has changed us completely. We see differently because of this new way of recording and indexing the world, just as the camera changed our way of seeing forever.’
Shotz’s exhibition runs from 10 Feb to 12 March at Derek Eller Gallery.
Location: 300 Broome Street, New York, NY 10002, USA
Photos courtesy of the artist.