Gareth Spor

Sensation (Depalma, The Responsive Eye, 1966) from Gareth Spor

If you in the Bay Area, I highly recommend seeing Gareth Spor’s exhibition at Eleanor Harwood in San Francisco. The whole exhibition functions quite nicely aesthetically and once you are reeled in by mystical and beautiful images, you will find a rich and fascinating yet humorous concept that balances both science and art.

Sensation Series

The works in the series Sensation take as their starting point images from the 1966 Museum of Modern Art exhibition “The Responsive Eye.” This exhibition collected works that are now commonly referred to as Op Art due to the notion that the artists employed optical tricks to produce particular sensations in the minds of the viewers. My works investigate these original works through the lens of mathematics (specifically the Fourier transform, an operation that decomposes an image into its constituent frequencies.) The video is a frame by frame transformation of the short documentary on the exhibition and retains the original sound track. The images that resulted from these experiments provide an alternative perspective on the original works and are an attempt to empirically reveal the harmonies they contained.

The works in the series “Pictures of the Sky” consist of reflective glass micro-spheres embedded in enamel paint on an aluminum surface. The spheres are deposited from a pendulum that loses mass as they are released. The trajectory of the pendulum thereby decays and the piece is completed when the pendulum is empty. The paint dries and the result is a frozen moment in time. I’ve titled this series Pictures of the Sky and each individual work is stamped with the time and date of its inception to reflect on the idea that I did not create these works in a traditional sense, so much as capture the result of a chaotic event. I’ve tinkered with the initial conditions of the system but the designs are purely a result of the laws of physics and nature un-interfered with. Much like a photographer interested in atmospheric and astronomical phenomena, we point our cameras skyward and cross our fingers and hold our breath.

Ghost (Vasarely)” is a spectral rendition of an iconic artwork by Victor Vasarely that has been installed for over three decades in a public park in Hungary. “Ghost” is a plaster replica, drained of color, but containing all the cracks and decay that have formed while a generation of artists have since come and gone. Pure ideas are born into the world without any chips or scratches, but over time, to succeed, they must take physical form and become subject to the throes of reality. When a crack allows one to peer through the facade, you learn more about the thing itself, how it is composed, where its weaknesses lie, or the conditions that led to its creation. Vasarely was one of many artists in his time working to explore the world by means of sensational geometric abstraction. The ideas they explored are still present, but how do we understand them now as opposed to then? The reproduction of his weathered sculpture is a metaphor for exploring how the ideas of his generation of artists have weathered the intervening decades.

The exhibition runs through 2/11 at Eleanor Harwood Gallery

**All images are from Gareth Spor’s Flickr.
**All italicized text is from Eleanor Harwood Gallery

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