Video: A World Of Ice And Neon
Dale Chihuly is an outstanding glassmaker with a worldwide reputation. However, modern art criticism pays undeserved little attention to his projects from other materials.
Leaving glass a dominant role in his work, he finds an opportunity to experiment with other materials - ice, plexiglass and neon. From the very beginning of the artist's career, both directions followed parallel courses, complementing and developing each other. The artist's creative credo is the search for new forms of expression of the beauty of the material and ways of exhibiting them. “The material itself is a constant source of inspiration. I usually have an idea to start working on a concept, but then the process grabs me, and I just follow it,”says Chihuly.
Honolulu Academy of Arts
A new material for the artist, plexiglass, has almost all the necessary qualities for creating large-scale installations. It is lightweight, which means that it does not require additional supports, which creates the illusion of open space; light from neon tubes freely passes through the thickness of the material, maintaining its true color; resistance to environmental influences provides all-season outdoor exposure. The variety of methods and ease of processing of this material gives the author the opportunity to freely shape and embody bold creative ideas.
Continuing to experiment with materials, Dale Chihuly turns his attention to ice, which, while somewhat similar to glass and plexiglass, has a more "live" nature. He is attracted by the naturalness, variability and natural beauty of the material. Chihuly's views were shared by American artist James Carpenter, and from 1970 they began a collaboration that continues to this day. Together they create installations of ice and neon.
The basis of any composition is a U-shaped tube with luminous gas frozen in a transparent block of ice. Shining pieces of ice are installed in the open air, their shape can be different, depending on the idea of the authors. The ice art object is exhibited in the open air; the time of such an exposition depends on the climate of the area where it is installed, and can last from several hours to several days. Melting ice leads to the appearance of various effects: a change in the shape of the object throughout the entire duration of the exposure; the appearance of various optical illusions associated with the intensity of color and overall light transmission, depending on the thickness of the ice; dynamic effects - frequent collapse of installations due to ice melting and loss of strength. All this attracts the attention of viewers who spend enough time near the art object,to capture all the possible effects. This gives them a reason for thinking, for example, about the changeability of the concept of "beauty", about the immutability of the flow of time, about the frailty of life, finally.
Honolulu Academy of Arts
The technology for the production of art objects from neon and ice, laid down in the 1970s and manifested in innovative installations, clearly manifested itself in the 1990s and 2000s. Let's consider some of them.
The first major open-air project by Dale Chihuly and Jason Carpenter presented to the public was called "20,000 pounds of ice". It was located on the grounds of the RISD School of Design in Rhode Island. Rectangular ice blocks with U-shaped tubes with neon inside were placed on an area of about 55 square meters. meters. Thanks to the different colors of the glow in the tubes, the authors have created a colorful artistic and spatial composition, the image of which changed from day to day. The rigid contour of rectangular ice blocks became smoother over time, the dynamics of chaotically placed objects gradually faded away, changing the emotionally shaped background of the composition. Changing the time of day, and, accordingly, the lighting, played a major role in the arrangement of the color-light environment. Objects looked especially impressive at night,when a bright phenomenon could be observed against a black background - the superposition of the color of one flickering object on another, which gave new color combinations, capturing the viewer into a kind of play of optical illusions.
RISD School of Design
A similar project, "20,000 pounds of ice and neon", was undertaken by Dale Chihuly and Jason Carpenter at the front site of the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). In the center of the city, on a busy street, a podium was erected, with an adjacent oval canopy-roof, on which rectangular blocks of ice with neon tubes were installed inside. As in the previous project, the color of the tubes was different, however, the exposition was more thoughtful. The background color of the display structure was black, which emphasized the texture of the ice and brightened the glow inside each individual element of the installation. The project became more interactive, since the audience could access the ice blocks, they could be touched with their hands, which, in addition to visual sensations, also added the experience of tactile contact.Observing the optical characteristics, one could notice that in daylight the composition was dominated by a transparent white mass of ice, the light from the colored glow was less noticeable than at night, when the texture of the ice practically became invisible in the bright inner glow of neon tubes.
RISD School of Design
Following the project in Seattle, similar projects were carried out on the territories of leading US museums. The first to pick up the baton were the Contemporary Arts Center, Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati, Ohio and The Honolulu Museum of Art (Honolulu Academy of Arts), Honolulu, Hawaii). In all cases, the exposition used the territory of the museum, which often preceded the exhibition of glass works in the exposition room of the museum.
However, after a few years, the exhibitions of works made of ice took on an independent character. The first of these was an exhibition at the multifunctional Takoma Dome in Tacoma. As one of the largest domed structures in the world, the Takoma Dome can accommodate between 1,000 and 23,000 people and is used for major sports and cultural events. For Dale Chihuly's project “100,000 pounds of ice,” an ice rink was chosen as the venue for the US Figure Skating Championships and major hockey matches. The production of art objects required five times more ice than previous projects, as the name of the project suggests. The new exhibit place also set new creative challenges for the artist.It was decided to supplement the exposition of the already familiar rectangular blocks of ice with specially created for this project by Dale Chihuly and his team so-called "floats" - balls frozen from pieces of ice and metal. This was done to achieve a spectacular effect - mutual reflection of surfaces. Ice figures glowing with neon light reflected on the ice of the rink, creating a volumetric glow both above the surface and below. The balls, which do not have neon tubes inside, reflected light with their metallic inclusions, complementing the picturesque effect with the translucent texture of the ice pieces frozen inside. It is worth noting the special play of reflexes that arose in pools of melt water.This was done to achieve a spectacular effect - mutual reflection of surfaces. Ice figures glowing with neon light reflected on the ice of the rink, creating a volumetric glow both above the surface and below. The balls, which do not have neon tubes inside, reflected light with their metallic inclusions, complementing the picturesque effect with the translucent texture of the ice pieces frozen inside. It is worth noting the special play of reflexes that arose in pools of melt water.This was done to achieve a spectacular effect - mutual reflection of surfaces. Ice figures glowing with neon light reflected on the ice of the rink, creating a volumetric glow both above the surface and below. The balls, which do not have neon tubes inside, reflected light with their metallic inclusions, complementing the picturesque effect with the translucent texture of the ice pieces frozen inside. It is worth noting the special play of reflexes that arose in pools of melt water.which arose in pools of melt water.which arose in pools of melt water.
The project was exposed in various lighting conditions, and looked most advantageous in a subdued, almost dark room. Spectators could observe the beauty of this work, being in the stands or directly at the rink side. The difference in viewing distance changed their perception of what was happening. For example, the Seattle Times journalist Deloris Tarzan Ament wrote about the project as follows: "From the podium, the neon and ice sculptures look like pieces of a giant board game."
Chihuly's work has radically changed throughout his many years of career, but certain preferences have remained the same. Working with materials such as plexiglass, ice, neon, he never stopped working with glass, creating installations of various sizes. He was always interested in sculpture and open-air projects, as he believed that the landscape was the starting point in the creation of a piece.
Photo - from the artist's official website www.chihuly.com
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