Artifix Mori

Posted on November 3, 2011

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The Skybridge Art & Sound Space is pleased to announce its newest installation, Artifix Mori, now on view through January 31, 2012, by John Ensor Parker and Jason Krugman, visiting artists in the Visual Arts program at Eugene Lang College.

Using a combination of silkworm cocoons and LED lights, Parker and Krugman have created an interactive installation that runs the length of the Skybridge Art & Sound Space. It combines the natural silk cocoons of the Bombyx Mori−the species of silkworm we use for commercial silk production−with mechanical elements that reanimate the lifeless cocoons. This draws attention to the silk harvesting process and invites the viewer to question human intervention in the natural world. This exhibit addresses the relationship between art and science, a prevalent theme in both artists’ work.

The exhibition focuses primarily on Parker and Krugman’s study of mass silk production and how it represents society’s reproduction and imitation of nature through technology. The artists essentially reanimate the lifeless silk cocoons that are activated as the viewer walks through the space. The cocoons are suspended from actuators, which convert electricity into mechanical movement. These actuators make a soft clicking noise, reminiscent of the sound the worms themselves make. This sound is also the basis for the accompanying score.

By using rudimentary technology, Parker and Krugman draw attention to the mechanics rather than attempting to disguise them. Through these mechanical devices, the visitors literally move the cocoons, and in turn find themselves being moved by the art itself.   In a conversation with the artists, they discussed the interactive aspect of the exhibition in relation to its content. “In choosing the materials and subject-matter for this show, we sought to incorporate a modular design that is activated by the physical presence of the audience in attempt to imbue the work with an aspect of sentience and responsiveness. Bombyx Mori silk worms create cocoons as part of developed mechanism of self-preservation. By combining the Bombyx Mori with industrial electronics and actuators, we are re-animating these creatures, in effect, bringing them back to life while also taking advantage of them for their aesthetic beauty, and perpetuating our ongoing relationship with nature.”

John Ensor Parker is a painter, video and new media artist whose work draws upon both analytical and primitive processes. Inherent in his work is a holistic balance of both science and art. He studied physics and mathematics and worked as a mechanical engineer. In addition to gallery exhibitions, his work includes large-scale public art works such as “To the People of Orlando” a permanent public artwork spanning a city block in Orlando Florida, a 30,000 square foot video mapping project on the Manhattan Bridge, and projections on the façade of the New Museum. Currently he is a visiting artist at Eugene Lang College and instructs a course on new media art.

Jason Krugman is an artist and designer specializing in electronic media and physical interaction design. Born in 1983, Krugman has a degree in Economics from Tufts University and a Master in Interactive Telecommunication from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Krugman uses light as his primary medium, building sculptures that respond to their audiences and environments.

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