All the visual arts use light in some form, but in artist Christine Sciulli's new piece, Languid, on view at the Governor's Island Art Fair, light is the graphic kinetic tool with which she activates and shapes space.
Sciulli has been using light and video projections for some time now to awaken space, often projecting light onto organic material, as she did in Expansive Field: The Environmental Art of Christine Sciulli at the South Fork Natural History Museum in Bridgehampton, New York in May of 2013. In that month-long installation, beams of light were focused on piles of branches shaped like haystacks -- a tribute to Monet's famous series of paintings on the perception of light. Sciulli's light show darted and danced like a swarm of fireflies and then at one point, appeared to flip the entire field on end like a giant illuminated pancake. "I have always been interested in light," Sciulli says. As a child sitting at the dinner table she would flash her knife around the room, watching how the light would hit the metal and bounce off again. "Depending on what light attaches to, or reflects off of, that will define and transform the space. First though, you have to capture the light, otherwise it will just keep moving."
To capture light requires matter: material form. For Languid, Sciulli has distilled the elaborate experience of Expansive Field and focused her vision in a small attic room in building 404A on Governor's Island. Inside this cloistered space with its sloping ceiling she has sewn netting and tulle together to create a crinoline spherical form that is reminiscent of a giant petticoat. Adhered to the wall the stiffly ruffled fabric is between 12" to 30" deep, depending on the angle of the ceiling. The room is completely dark save for a motion graphic video that projects onto the material. The result is a series of concentric circles that spin, flip, spiral, flourish and curl across the crinoline structure. Radial lines of light swing out from the center like a radar sweep. At varying times the piece evokes geometry, but in Sciulli's world, math dances like a ballerina in a jeweled box. And yet, while the shapes and forms twist and turn, the light, the energy, remains solid.
Sciulli is both an artist and an illumination engineer. She's studied architecture as well as drawing and photography. Her work is about the point of intersection between light, shape and line. She draws with light in order to make the math of space visible. In Sciull's work we witness the duality of light -- for light is both particle and wave -- collapse into unified shapes. Both Baroque and elegant, organic and man-made, Languid, is an enthralling piece that magically displays the geometry of light in space.
Languid is on view at the Governor's Island Art Fair Saturdays and Sundays in September, 11am-6pm. Directions and further GIAF info: http://www.4heads.org/visitors/. Plan to make a day of it. There are over 100 singular rooms of painting, photography, sculpture, installation, video, sound and performance art.