Monday, April 4, 2016

Photographing an Amazing 3 Story Tall Lobby Sculpture

In my opinion, most artwork is better seen with one's own eyes, especially 3-dimensional sculptures. Photographs may not do the original justice since the nature of a photo is to turn the 3-dimensional object into a 2-dimensional "flat" abstraction.  

The choices that a photographer makes when capturing the sculpture (such as viewing angle) are "baked into the photograph". The viewer can only interpret what the photographer chose to show. Enjoying sculptures in person with our own senses, making our own visual discoveries and forming our own opinions will always be the best way to enjoy this type of artwork (at least until virtual reality is indistinguishable from the real world).

On the other hand, photography can be used to enhance sculptures by creating a version of the artwork that is not possible to see in person. A photographer documenting sculptures always takes a risk of adding a layer of his own aesthetic that may not be in line with what the creator of the artwork intended. 

This concern was in the back of my mind when I was asked to photograph an amazing art installation in a client's lobby. The artwork is permanently attached to the building via a massive hanging system tied into a skylight. I have no idea whether the artist designed it just for the space or if it is something that she has done in other locations.

A client installed this wire and mirrored hexagon sculpture that descends from their skylight three stories above down to the first floor entrance. 

The hexagons are suspended at regular intervals creating planes of color and pattern in all directions.

Less than half of the installation is shown in the image below. It fits into the spiral staircase perfectly.

By using flashes, I was able to control the mood of the photo. While my photos make it looks like dusk outside, it was really midday. I could also control the direction of projected shadows adding another layer of dimension to the work. The regular office lighting does not have this effect.

This is simply beautiful. 

One of my favorite views was looking up at the links of disks. I did not see a single repeated design.

The view from the top of the staircase reveals reflections of color patterns since all the tiles are mirrored on top. It is similar to looking through a giant shifting kaleidoscope.

I took advantage of the spiral staircase to frame the amazing installation. I imagined some sort of futuristic warp drive in action as I looked at the suspended facets of color.

I believe that the impact of the sculpture is stronger because of where it was installed. 

The top of the sculpture seems to come to a point, though this is just an illusion created by the staggered starting points of the hexagon columns.

The red wires play their own part bringing streaks of color into negative spaces around the tiles.

A slight change in perspective shows the fit into the architecture.

By sharing so many views, I am trying to show that this sculpture will offer infinite pleasure and a new experience each time it is encountered.

The sculpture can appear solid or airy depending on whether you are viewing the edges or the tops and bottoms of the hexagons. I would love to have something this cool in my dream home. 

I do have one question though... how do you dust something like this?



Pae White is a multimedia artist known for reinterpreting familiar encounters and ordinary items—like animals, books, advertisements, shopping bags, and plants—and revealing what she calls the "artfulness" of the natural and the everyday. She employs ornate craftsmanship along with inventive materials to create objects and installations that transcend traditional boundaries between art and design. Learn more about Pae White here.