Thursday, May 14, 2015

Art Everywhere

by Drew Martin
I took a walk at lunch today to check out the bitforms gallery on Allen Street in the Lower East Side. I had seen a picture online of stuffed, robotic penguins being set up for an exhibit and that naturally caught my attention. They are part of Descent with Modification by Daniel Rozin. Here is an extreme truncation of their press release:

The exhibition features six installations that are shaped by Darwin’s breakthrough writings on evolutionary biology, particularly “On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” from 1859. Marked by a new visual emphasis on the mechanism of descent with modification, Rozin’s works are algorithmically based on the randomness of genetic drift.

Central to the exhibit are four software art installations that Rozin developed over a period of five years. In these works, programmed “evolutionary pressure” pushes the artworks to resemble the viewer’s mirrored image.

The largest work in the exhibition, Penguins Mirror is an installation scattered on the floor and comprised of 450 motorized stuffed performs an absurdly homogeneous system of movement...each penguin turns from side to side and responds to the presence of an audience. As they perform, the penguins’ collective intelligence is puzzling, yet somehow familiar, as the plush toys enact a precise choreography rooted in geometry.

PomPom Mirror...features a synchronized array of 928 spherical faux fur puffs. Organized into a three-dimensional grid of beige and black, the sculpture is controlled by hundreds of motors that build silhouettes of viewers using computer-vision. Along its surface, figures appear as fluffy animal-like representations within the picture the motorized composition hums in unified movement, seemingly alive and breathing as a body of its own.

The picture of the book with the butterflies and the eggs is a projected illustration of the Origin of Species, which digitally flips through its pages. This work is certainly an obvious overlapping of science and art, both of which are matters of keen observation. One thing that Darwin's expedition helped establish is that life is everywhere, and it expresses itself in a multitude of possibilities. I think the same can be said for art. On the way to and back from the gallery I was pleasantly overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of the Lower East Side, which included this art installation Uplift by Jarrod Beck in the Sara D. Roosevelt Park...

...this dapper dandy hipster in a colorful waxprint suit....

...this swath of fresh concrete (still being worked on at the far end)...

...and a serendipitous visit to this pop-up art space by the Berlin-based Circle Culture Gallery with these leather works by the Austrian conceptual artist Anneliese Schrenk.