light

In the crazy whirly moments before we left for our road trip / holiday last year I managed to prepare some pocket lens prototypes. They needed to come with! To be tested in new environments!

Pocket Lenses developed over years. They have become an analogue synonym of our digitally engaged society.

Lenses were a natural conclusion to the work I do. Sculpting solid (and sometimes blown) glass by grinding and polishing I invoke light to do crazy things. Light is all around us. It is the substance (or wave) that informs us of our surrounding, bouncing off everything we see.

Some light is also emitted, such as the screen you are reading this on – looking into a “window”. Looking through glass. Looking beyond the surface…

Before I get carried away by the etherial and profound lets get back to the Pocket Lenses.

One of my first iterations on the theme of looking and being seen predated smart phones. Mask and Mask Blue questioned the experience of looking through the “mask lens” and being seen looking through the “mask lens”. This was a very intentional play to engage the spectator in becoming an active part of these sculptures.

Steel handles UV-bonded on the sides of the masks encouraged the viewer to lift the sculpture off of the stand. Once the mask is held to your face to peer through your arms and elbows complete the suggested shape; to complete the sculptural concept by uniting the participant with the object and transforming these into the “full picture” – which in turn is what the surrounding spectators see and experience.

More than ten years later the world has evolved into an ever more inter-connected landscape in which individuals are peering into hand held glass lenses, looking at the world and showing the world their perspective, digitally. 

Pocket Lenses are the next generation of interactive sculptural interventions, bringing the here and now closer to your immediate experience.

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“It seems obvious that something connects between the eyes and the thing being viewed. That something must be light. But does the light come from the eyes, or from the object under scrutiny, or from someplace else?”
The Story of Light, Ben Bova, 2001 – Light and Vision, p.125

Bending Light
an Exhibition Exploring Photons with Kleonicki Vanos and Lothar Böttcher

NWU Art Gallery, Botanical Gardens
01 -22 September 2016

Consciousness is not sharply defined, but fades into sub-consciousness . We are not uniformly sensitive to the illusions of light yet context matters and our perception of it affects our mind, body, and soul. We process life as we perceive it and our perceptions can change, which is reason enough to celebrate who we are.

By Bending Light, both artists invite the viewer to explore variations on perception, invoking a moment of immediacy.

Kleonicki uses light as a metaphorical brush, literally painting with light in her photographic images.

Lothar sculpturally transforms glass into objects and portals, enticing the spectator to come closer and “observe” the world through his sculptures.

Mutually collaborating on the subject of transforming the familiar arrangement of photons into new narratives these vibrant artists intend to illuminate our view of the world and our place in it.

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Look around you. Grids are everywhere. Even in nature grids appear. The structural lines of the veins on your hand, the folds and lines on your palm, they are everywhere like intersecting pathways.

A grid gives structure to space. Consisting of lines it separates planes into blocks. Lines are fundamental to the existence of a grid, but they must cross another. Some lines are longer others broader but it is this crossing of the lines that constitutes a grid.

Some grids are structured, mathematically and perpendicular. Take a map of the city or place you live in, look at these forever connecting lines which make up the roads, streets and borders of your environment.

Others seem random and organic such as the neurones and synapses in our brains or the ebb and flow in a mangrove swamp.

Ultimately these lines, wherever they find themselves, are connected.

An ongoing theme in my work has been the large optical crystal Grid Sculptures. A grid pattern is cut into the base of these large and heavy blocks, adding a rigid, formal, almost quantifiable structure into the narrative. 
Thereafter the flat sided cube is carved up, often with impulsively determined facets or, quite recently, with an underlying geometric structure. I allow these variants to manifest themselves.

The grid already determines rigidity and mathematical quantifiable value. These straight lines conform to an imposed intervention, something that is not quite from nature.

Then the carving starts. First with lines drawn onto the cube then with a saw to remove larger chunks. A rough diamond cup-disk is used thereafter to shape and hew the sculpture into desired curves and facets. It is with my hands, eyes and tools that the sculpture takes shape.

During the process which takes several days of meticulous and repetitive labour, scouring the surface with ever finer gritts, the interior emerges.

It is this magic of the hard transparent material I am after. The initial matt and rough cuts don’t tell me much of what light will do but it is towards the end of the process when, after an almost meditative sojourn the spirit of my endeavour emerges.

I am attempting to impose an organic distortion on the rigid structural set of rules, this predetermined grid we deal and often conform with. I am trying to find another way of seeing things.

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