Through working with very different mediums, Professors of Art Claudia Esslinger and Barry Gunderson have developed unique interpretations of nature in their new exhibits, on display at the Gund Gallery through Feb. 15.
Host is a collaboration among Esslinger, Associate Professor of Physics Tom Giblin and Assistant Professor of Music Ross Feller. An elevated surface in the middle of a darkened room invites viewers to look over the railing and investigate an ever-changing surface consisting of panes of polymer-dispersed liquid crystal, an oblique material that becomes clear when an alternating current is applied to it. Beneath the “window” lie copper plates reminiscent of desert landscapes.
The order of the panes being charged remains uncertain to viewers until their presence triggers a new order in the glass. “When that happens, the origins of the cosmos clears the view — the pattern of the panes turns into cosmic bubbles, representative of Tom Giblin’s research,” Esslinger said. Drawing on data from Giblin’s simulations of cosmological scenarios, the panes blossom into clarity to reveal the rough topography of copper surfaces. A soundtrack provided by Feller complements the changing panes.
Currents is a quieter collection, though not static. Upon wall-mounted wooden sculptures, waves of water seem to move of their own accord with the same whimsy as Host’s glass plates. Gunderson was inspired to create the pieces during his 2013-14 sabbatical, when he returned to his childhood home of Minneapolis for the first time in more than 40 years.
“There were few days when we were not crossing one of the bridges to see what the river was doing that day,” Gunderson said of his trip. “In addition to these walking journeys, I was investigating antique maps, NASA photos and any other images that showed me aspects of the river I had been ignoring.” The sculptures play with the intersection of rivers and bridges and their reflections.
“The shows were not located in the main gallery with any thematic or conceptual reason,” Gund Gallery Director Natalie Marsh said. “It is a happy coincidence that the two involve at their core a quiet movement complementing each other and the varying mediums on display."
By Matthew Eley '15