Simple Machines and Simple Dreams
I am interested in how we situate ourselves within a mechanized society. My work questions the physical and psychological structures that make up our everyday, ranging from essential building structures such as electrical wiring, to the basic conduct of how people communicate and behave. Since the human drive is not only to make things work but to constantly better the functionality of an object or system, as well as our selves, it conjures the question of sustainability. If we are always searching, looking for something better, when are we satisfied? And most importantly what are we looking for? My work turns this question of sustainability inward, addressing the viewer, rather than examining outside sources.
These questions are investigated using color, light, and textiles to create a sensory experience taking shape in objects and room-sized installations. Light is used to direct the viewer or make visible an electrical structure, either specific to the space or diagrammatic. Electroluminescent wire, which produces a continuous line of light, is applied in site-specific line drawings that perceptively dominate and change the space. The environments immerse the viewer in a phenomenological experience. I also create hand-constructed textile objects, titled PLAYMATES, which invite interaction with the audience.
One site-specific installation titled ‘See you at the top’ (exhibited in Switzerland) consists of an upside-down “mountain” constructed out of vinyl cloth that is suspended from the ceiling around the central light fixture of the room. The “mountain’s” glowing presence dominates the space – its radiating light enhances the vinyl fabric folds, enforcing the structural jaggedness of the mountainous construction, while exposing the utilitarian green daisy flower printed tablecloth by seeing the manufacturer’s design from the back shine through. The viewer negotiates the space with little maneuvering room, at once being drawn to the light while unsure of the soundness of the construction.
This installation, inspired by the Swiss countryside and lifestyle, addresses current issues that I’m exploring in my work. The Mountain, a Swiss icon used to communicate a national identity, is also a key symbol in motivational and self-help literature, where a mountain becomes a symbol for hard work and endurance needed to reach your goals. Through turning the mountain upside-down, ‘See you at the top’ is an invitation to question the endurance of the tough climb to the unknown – perhaps we are already there.
Aiming to entice the viewer through a point of recognition and familiarity in the constructed objects and environments in a perceptual and sensory way, the work then has the possibility to create associations for the viewer, which leads to a heightened sense of awareness of how these elements manifest themselves in their life and what kind of role they play.
A simple machine is an elementary device – a lever, wheel and axle, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, or screw – that has a specific movement, which can be combined with other devices and movements to form a machine. A simple dream is not as easily defined. One could start to describe it as a desire to an idyllic state of being, which is subjective. For example, a dream of leading a simple life surrounded by a majestic and idyllic landscape is quite different than a dream of advancing up the social ladder to enjoy the simple pleasures that promise to wait at the top. What is our simple dream? Though hard to describe perhaps the secret lies in simple gestures similar to the specific mechanical movements of a simple machine to get the ball rolling.
The exhibition ‘Simple Machines and Simple Dreams’ features three new bodies of work – picturesque landscapes, comfort drawing studies, and an installation with soft light sculptures. The Picturesque Landscapes are a humorous demonstration of simple mechanics in an idyllic landscape, employing pulley, gears, etc to insert foreign objects into the great outdoors. The Comfort Studies are still life drawing studies of a decorative throw pillow in locomotion with black chalk on white felt. The main installation consists of three soft sculptures – a chair, a ladder, and an outboard motor. The ladder, sewn out of vinyl tablecloth with each rung illuminated from within, is strung up in space via a pulley system, using a crestfallen soft sculpture of an outboard motor sewn with synthetic crushed rabbit velvet as a counter weight. The chair, also sewn out of a decorative vinyl tablecloth, is installed high on a wall, with the light that’s emanating from the seat cushion reflecting on the ceiling. Perhaps one could use the ladder to climb rung by rung to reach the chair at the top…