SARAH MEHOYAS | CLOUD OF PETALS | RED BULL ARTS

Sarah Mehoyas’ new project is so sweeping, and has so many moving parts, that I’ve included a link to the video component’s trailer and a large snippet from the press release:

“[Cloud of Petals] began in the Summer of 2016, when the artist gathered 16 men, all sourced from a temporary work agency, for an in-situ data collecting ritual at Eero Saarinen’s Bell Works in Holmdel, New Jersey (formerly Bell Labs). Centered within the dramatic Josef Albers-inspired floor pattern in the atrium—the hallowed ground that gave birth to Information Theory—the artist positioned the workers at individual workstations, and filmed the men over the course of several days. They fastidiously plucked the petals off each rose, carefully selecting, preserving, and photographing them to create a physical subset. The men chose the petals they deemed most beautiful—a process that embeds the workers’ subjectivity into the data set. The efforts of these men resulted in the harvest of a critical data set of nearly 100,000 unique rose petals that would define the foundation of an artificial intelligence algorithm capable of creating new, unique petals forever.

“For Cloud of Petals, 3,289 of these painstakingly preserved rose petals are fashioned into a mosaic as part of a large architectural intervention at Red Bull Arts New York. The archival wall reads as an elite rose petal taxonomy, funneling the viewer into the auditorium where the artist’s 30-minute 16mm film of the performance art piece shot on 16mm at Bell Labs, plays on a loop. In the main gallery, four ominous sculptures loom, dotting the large space like standing alien sarcophagi undergoing a ritualistic software update, encased using the salvaged modular steel walls from Bell Labs. Meyohas integrates an infinity mirror, a device she’s employed throughout her practice, as an infinite call and response where the boundaries of time and space seem unending. Lastly, visitors encounter the exhibition’s VR component: a series of gaze-based experiences that manipulates this organic data set for the viewer’s pleasure, featuring new, uniquely generated petals using AI and the 100,000 picture data set.”

I’m a sucker for a good archive, and Mehoyas brings the goods with her petal-based archive/mosaic. There’s something powerful about the gesture. It feels taxonomic, in some ways, like an Enlightenment-era scientist searching for meaning, or maybe just pattern, in nature. I’m still wondering to myself what it might mean to think like this, in Linnaean terms, so to speak, but it goes without saying that the Linnaean way of organizing knowledge stands at the core of how we understand the world today. Classification begets categories, and categories beget labels, and those two things beget stability. It’s a common way to form knowledge–it even undergirds the scientific method–but Meyohas complicates the gesture with her hauntingly beautiful movie and VR simulations. By creating a network that can generate an infinitude of permutations, she pulls terra firma from the traditional archive, which makes it something much less static, simple, or easy to manipulate.

Four on the Floor #4

Albrecht Dürer | Tschabalala Self | Hayv Kahraman | Sarah Mehoyas

Installation view, Sarah Mehoyas, Most Beautiful Petals, archive wall of 3,289 petals, Cloud of Petals, Red Bull Arts. Photography by Lance Brewer, 2017.

Installation view, Sarah Mehoyas, Most Beautiful Petals, archive wall of 3,289 petals, Cloud of Petals, Red Bull Arts. Photography by Lance Brewer, 2017.

Installation view, Sarah Mehoyas, Cloud of Petals, six interactive virtual reality scenes. Red Bull Arts. Photography by Lance Brewer, 2017.

Installation view, Sarah Mehoyas, Most Beautiful Petals, archive wall of 3,289 petals, Cloud of Petals, Red Bull Arts. Photography by Lance Brewer, 2017.

SARAH MEHOYAS | CLOUD OF PETALS | RED BULL ARTS

Sarah Mehoyas’ new project is so sweeping, and has so many moving parts, that I’ve included a link to the video component’s trailer and a large snippet from the press release:

“[Cloud of Petals] began in the Summer of 2016, when the artist gathered 16 men, all sourced from a temporary work agency, for an in-situ data collecting ritual at Eero Saarinen’s Bell Works in Holmdel, New Jersey (formerly Bell Labs). Centered within the dramatic Josef Albers-inspired floor pattern in the atrium—the hallowed ground that gave birth to Information Theory—the artist positioned the workers at individual workstations, and filmed the men over the course of several days. They fastidiously plucked the petals off each rose, carefully selecting, preserving, and photographing them to create a physical subset. The men chose the petals they deemed most beautiful—a process that embeds the workers’ subjectivity into the data set. The efforts of these men resulted in the harvest of a critical data set of nearly 100,000 unique rose petals that would define the foundation of an artificial intelligence algorithm capable of creating new, unique petals forever.

Installation view, Sarah Mehoyas, Most Beautiful Petals, archive wall of 3,289 petals, Cloud of Petals, Red Bull Arts. Photography by Lance Brewer, 2017.

“For Cloud of Petals, 3,289 of these painstakingly preserved rose petals are fashioned into a mosaic as part of a large architectural intervention at Red Bull Arts New York. The archival wall reads as an elite rose petal taxonomy, funneling the viewer into the auditorium where the artist’s 30-minute 16mm film of the performance art piece shot on 16mm at Bell Labs, plays on a loop. In the main gallery, four ominous sculptures loom, dotting the large space like standing alien sarcophagi undergoing a ritualistic software update, encased using the salvaged modular steel walls from Bell Labs. Meyohas integrates an infinity mirror, a device she’s employed throughout her practice, as an infinite call and response where the boundaries of time and space seem unending. Lastly, visitors encounter the exhibition’s VR component: a series of gaze-based experiences that manipulates this organic data set for the viewer’s pleasure, featuring new, uniquely generated petals using AI and the 100,000 picture data set.”

Installation view, Sarah Mehoyas, Cloud of Petals, six interactive virtual reality scenes. Red Bull Arts. Photography by Lance Brewer, 2017.

I’m a sucker for a good archive, and Mehoyas brings the goods with her petal-based archive/mosaic. There’s something powerful about the gesture. It feels taxonomic, in some ways, like an Enlightenment-era scientist searching for meaning, or maybe just pattern, in nature. I’m still wondering to myself what it might mean to think like this, in Linnaean terms, so to speak, but it goes without saying that the Linnaean way of organizing knowledge stands at the core of how we understand the world today. Classification begets categories, and categories beget labels, and those two things beget stability. It’s a common way to form knowledge–it even undergirds the scientific method–but Meyohas complicates the gesture with her hauntingly beautiful movie and VR simulations. By creating a network that can generate an infinitude of permutations, she pulls terra firma from the traditional archive, which makes it something much less static, simple, or easy to manipulate.

Four on the Floor #4

Albrecht Dürer | Tschabalala Self | Hayv Kahraman | Sarah Mehoyas

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