Casting a Sculpture Out of Nothing
May 10, 2012
All photos: Nash Baker/ Rice University Art Gallery
Writer Sanford Kwinter famously appropriated Conrad Waddington’s “Epigenetic Landscape” as a topological model with which to envision a new conception of formmaking, whereby matter is intrinsically latent with tendencies that “condition” its morphological evolution. Anticipating the formal free-for-all that would follow in the first decade of the new millennium, Kwinter warned against using the “form” of the epigenetic landscape (as drawn by Waddington or any other iteration) for analogical purposes, but I’m about to do just that. For his ”Reverse of Volume RG” installation, Japanese artist Yasuaki Onishi has suspended a mold of “nothing”, in reality, a plastic sheet held in place by strands of black hot glue string from the ceiling of the Rice Gallery in Houston. Whereas Onishi describes the piece as “casting the invisible”, the resultant form approximates the billowing and folding field of Waddington’s model.
Granted, the purposes of both are wildly divergent, they both are vehicles by which to visualize and harness the invisible, but very real forces that mold matter. Onishi’s piece is loosely prescriptive, involving the use and programming of parameters external to the material being acted upon–in this case, a tiered massing of cardboard boxes whose different heights shape the plastic sheet before being removed altogether. The “suspension system” of hot glue that holds the sculpture in place overlap and become attached to one another at midpoints, thus, destabilizing the plane and further warping it.
Visitors may walk around and pass underneath the sculpture to inspect the piece’s intricate topography of micro mountains, basins, and depressions. Crevices of shadow are intermixed with valleys of light to create a textured immersive environment, both contemplative and unnerving that, according to the exhibition’s curators, feels almost like entering an “inner sanctum or cave-like chamber.”
[via Rice Gallery]