Electronic aesthetics have been deeply rooted in live visuals, but that’s even greater reason to explore materiality. Dev Harlan, a New York-based artist working in sculpture, light, and projection, has built a collaboration with the now-legendary Polish-born, New York-crocheting Olek (aka Agata Oleksiak).
Olek’s work has included what might best be described as crochet interventions. Whether in a gallery setting or working with the city streets and objects as her canvas, she wraps people and things in crochet. The work has become a ubiquitous part of life here in New York; on the way down Wall Street yesterday, I was greeted by two performers wrapped in full crochet bodysuits with their hand through a canvas, shaking hands with passersby. (Most of the Wall Street tourists and workers ignored them; I found, on a difficult day, the gesture of shaking their hand to be transformative.)
Dev Harlan faces the tantalizing challenge of translating this fiber virtuality into digital transformations, rather than only crocheted ones. What’s nice about the approach is that Dev’s work combines Olek’s crochet process, captured in stop-motion, with fanciful all-synthetic imagery. Dev’s own penchant for bright colors and patterns is the perfect electronic match to the charged, magically-cheery patterns in Olek’s artwork. A five-minute DVD of “artifacts” from the collaboration is available in a limited run, covered, naturally, in a crocheted sleeve.
Projection mapping, aside from being a practical solution, envelopes objects in much the way Olek’s all-covering crochet installations and suits do. In fact, it seems to me just as appropriate to include here solo work by Dev Harlan: “Star Geode I,” for the New Museum’s Nuit Blanche in May, has much of the same feel to me as the crochet works.
See also wonderful uses of color and pattern in the Pyramid series of the last couple of years, which has been shown in the Christopher Henry Gallery in NYC’s SoHo.
And while it’s not strictly relevant to Create Digital Motion, I find the spirit of Olek’s work to be inspiring, in terms of how it relates to the world. A documentary video is in the works, funded by Kickstarter: