Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reflected landscapes

Zora Palova, Virtual Reality, 1999

I took the photograph above at Goodwood Sculpture park a few years ago. The Cass Sculpture Foundation website describes Palova's sculpture thus: 'These five double-sided mirrors rotate around central pivots within their frames. They move in response to the wind or by being pushed or brushed against. The reflections render the form almost invisible when static, but in effect Palova has cut out sections of nature and framed them precisely. The framework remains the same but the pictures change almost continually.'

Anish Kapoor, C-Curve, 2009

I was reminded of Palova's work when shown a picture of Anish Kapoor's mirror, C-Curve, installed on the South Downs for the Brighton Festival. A relative of mine has noticed the similarity of this piece to optical display mirrors used on flight simulators and expressed concern in an email that "a huge amount of power can be concentrated at the focal point of the mirror – e.g. enough to boil a kettle full of water within seconds!" There don't seem to have been any singed spectators, but I see from the Evening Argus that the mirror itself was cracked by high winds.

This is not the first mirror sculpture Anish Kapoor has installed - his Cloud Gate for example reflects the urban landscape of Chicago. And artist-installed mirrors in the landscape go back at least as far as Robert Smithson's Yucatan Mirror Displacements (1-9) (1969). Here are some other recent examples:
  • Michel de Broin's Superficial (2004): 'Upon invitation to reflect on the notion of transparency, that led me into the forest to envelop the contour of a large stone with fragments of mirror. The large stone, tucked away deep in the woods, became a reflective surface for its surroundings. In this play of splintered radiance, the rock disappears in its reflections. Because it reflects one cannot be mislead by its presence, yet we cannot seize it, rather it is the rock that reflects us.'
  • Julia Davis's Meniscii (2008): 'Sydney artist Julia Davis' Meniscii is so uncomplicated that its materials are listed as "mirror, sky, landscape". ... The work was intended to float on a lake in the gardens, but the biting drought caused the lake to recede and necessitated moving the Meniscii on to dry ground. "Water restrictions have gone up," Davis recalled being told in a January telephone call from the organisers. "You're going to have to re-think your work."'
  • Steve Messam's Drop (2008): 'Drop will be moving about the Lake District, taking up residence at some of the "viewing stations" nominated by Thomas West in his 1778 book "Guide to the Lakes". Drop will act like another 18th Century device when inflated, the "Claude Glass" a small shaped mirror that early tourists would use to view the beauty of the Lakes through! But unlike the Claude Glass, which was held at arms length, this modern version can be touched and flexed allowing people to create their own reflected landscapes.'

1 comment:

Plinius said...

Post script (June 30th): a couple more examples at the International Garden Festival at Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens - see Pruned.