The Armory Art Show opened in 1994, since then it has been one of the most important NYC art shows of the year to attend. Named after the first 1913 Armory show which introduced America to modern art with an exhibition of avant-garde artists from Europe and the US, the current Armory Show like its predecessor presents a mixture of genres while introducing new artists.
This year the armory show was indeed a real pleasure to attend. The careful selection of galleries from 30 countries created a nice sampling of the wide array of artistic works created from the 20th through the 21st Centuries. In attending, my interest veers to a particular type of work, work that has a new technology and/or a scientific focus. This kind of work has often been difficult to find at the fair but this year I was not disappointed.
I first went to Pier 92 where the modern works were exhibited. The first gallery I saw as I walked in the door was Marlborough Fine Arts. I always enjoy following this gallery although its artists usually do not product works that I am searching for I enjoy what I see there.
One of the first works that caught my eye was a small table top work “Unstable Cube I” by George Rickey who makes delicate sculptures that are move by the wind. Rickey was driven by his love of engineering and mechanics and created sculptures whose delicately balanced parts respond to even the slightest air currents. Kinetic art is not new. It began in the early 1920’s and was named by Nam Gabo as work with ’kinetic motion.’ Even though it is not new to see Rickey’s work is still a pleasure to experience.
I then went on to visit the next gallery Hollis Taggart Galleries a Madison Avenue gallery which is where I discovered two artists whose works I had never seen before Moto Waganari and Martin Willing. Mr. Willing is a German artist and physicist living in Cologne. He was first trained at the Münster art academy and then went on to become physicist. As a result he uses mathematical formulas as the basis of his work to investigate oscillation and kinetics with pre-stressed titanium steel and duraluminium. Applying scientific exactitude he cuts his work out of one solid piece to create works that are balanced between stasis and movement like “Stacked Stairs.”
The second artist is Lutz Wagner whose persona Moto Waganari is at the core of his work. His sculptures are delicate figurative works created in 3D printed parametric forms (a mathematical method used to form the structure). His doppelganger can be seen in “Moto/black” where he represents himself with the removable rabbit mask.
After this nice introduction I went on to see the contemporary galleries at Pier 94 where I hoped to find a larger number of works. There at Bryce Wolkowitz’ gallery I found a compelling work “Exploded View Commuters” by Jim Campbell which consists of a large array of LEDs suspended from an overhead frame. At first glance it seemed to employ a personal cosmology but after some time figures derived from a video of commuters at Grand Central Station appeared in the field. Campbell’s custom electronics hidden behind the scrim of illumination and form unveiled silhouettes of people walking that could also be the movement of people behind me imbued it with a universal quality.
At Bitforms was a rare and stunning show of Rafael Lozano-Hemmers’ work. Amongst “Semiophics for Spinoza,” “Devaluano,” “Performance Review,” “X is not the New Y” was “Flatsun”. This interactive work musters fluid dynamic algorithms to populate the custom-designed circular screen which is 1 billion times smaller then the sun to mimic solar flairs that the viewer can interact with. Although the viewer’s ability to change the speed of the turbulence of the sun is fortunately not related to any actual human capability it gives the participant a scifi ability to manipulate nature.
The final work I was introduced to was Andrea Galvani’s “Higg’s Ocean #6” at Spaces Corners. This is a documentary photo from a project that he staged off the coast of Svalbard Islands in the Arctic Circle. For this series of photographs the artist fabricated a system using 2 photovotaic panels to store the limited daytime sun light which in turn powered a beam of light through the Earth’s atmosphere. Like the early Arctic explorers’ efforts this work visualizes the attempt to reach an unknown.