Art in the round: inspiration from molecules and orreries

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Artists Bigert & Bergstrom create suspended globular clusters, reminiscent of molecular structures, with vinyl photographs on the outside and lighting within. The overall effect is a "luminous three-dimensional sculpture", light and airy as a memory, but distinctly industrial.

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These sculptures used photos of a power plant, linking the molecular appearance to greenhouse gases and pollution. See more photos at today and tomorrow.

In contrast, Andy Harper's "An Orrery for Other Worlds" is a heavy, opaque sphere laden with detailed, lush botanical fantasies executed in oil paint. Oil is a weighty medium, and the sphere feels ponderous, almost pregnant, particularly in this setting:

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In contrast to Bigert & Bergstrom's work, which is unabashedly modern, Harper's work is like an anachronistic artifact, something presaging the future but executed centuries ago. One mother described how, on her visit to the local gallery to see the work, children were encouraged to sit under it and draw inspiration from it:

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I feel like this scene - children sketching while a sphere of alien plant life hovers above them - is familiar to me from a science fiction novel; or maybe it just feels like it ought to be familiar?

Bigert & Bergstrom's work is currently being exhibited by Milliken gallery at the Armory show. Harper's "Orrery" is at Aspex Gallery in the UK.

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In the last picture, are some of those patterns(the elongated shapes with lighter dots on them and thin protrusions at the ends) based on microscopic views of algae?

Quite possibly - the artist likes to work with botanic imagery in fantastic combinations, so it wouldn't be surprising if he mixes scales in his paintings. I'm going to blog more about his other work later when I have a bit more time!

Okay, between this and "robocheetah" art is making me feel all sciencey. The last thing that did this was the cool blue acrylic clipboard and graphing calculator I bought in preparation for calculus. Just made me feel techy, sciencey, futuristic-y, kind of like an intergallactic super intelligent dolphin or cooler still...leopard seal.

By Mike Olson (not verified) on 30 Mar 2010 #permalink

The picture with the children is reminiscent of the scene from Serenity where young River is working in her outdoor classroom.

By Jessica Too (not verified) on 30 Mar 2010 #permalink

It could just be that my recent discovery has many things making me think about Mike Oldfield - but that rather reminds me of the best musical discovery I have made this year. If you have never heard of Mike Oldfield, he is bloody brilliant - I have a feeling you would like him. Put it this way - a friend of mine uploaded The Songs of Distant Earth for me to download, when I was trying to find (in vain) an audio copy of the novel by Arthur C Clarke of the same name.

I will admit that listening to his work brings a lot of interesting imagery to mind - including some that you have posted...