by Sukanya GargSep 21, 2019
Much admired for their alluring and eye catching pieces of art, Netherlands-based artist collective Studio Drift present their first solo exhibition in the United States at The Mint Museum Uptown, in North Carolina. The exhibition titled Immersed in Light brings together five of their most vivid and thought provoking works created over the last decade, including one never before seen installation.
Founded and led by Dutch artists Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordjin, Studio Drift was established in 2007, and has now grown to a team of more than 20 artists, engineers and technologists. Their works present a splendidly ethereal synthesis of art, nature and technology, arresting the attention of viewers, while initiating conversations about considering technological possibilities in our lives. One of their most iconic and signature pieces, Franchise Freedom was commissioned by NASA earlier this year, for the 50th anniversary celebration of Apollo 11’s moon landing, an observance of man’s relationship with nature and technology.
Immersed in Light continues their thematic of highlighting nature aided by man–made technology, through five breathtaking, immersive and intriguing installations, which include Fragile Future 3, Amplitude, a documentary film version of Franchise Freedom, Drifters and Coded Coincidence.
“Making and building are in their DNA, but it’s Studio Drift’s wild imagination and anything is possible’ mantra that sets them apart from other contemporary artists,” says Annie Carlano, the Senior Curator for the Mint’s exhibition. “Their explorations of natural and supernatural phenomena take us on an emotional ride from ‘wow’ to wonder.”
Fragile Future 3
This installation deliberates on the fact that light lies at the basis of all life, and is created from hundreds of tiny dandelion seeds. All of these have been glued by hand, seed by seed, onto LED lights, and are bound together by bronze electrical circuits.These light emitting dandelions convey emotion and nature’s seemingly transient nature. The labouring process of making the installation by hand, is a statement against mass production.
Made up of 20 enormous but delicate wings, this installation depicts the studio’s fascination for flying, and fills up an entire room. These wings move effortlessly, mimicking the motion of waves, and a giant bird in flight. Amplitude’s movement is demonstrative of nature’s pulse – each element in the exhibit is prompted by weights that slide back and forth, triggering motion.
One of the two video spaces at the exhibition features the documentary film version of the widely acclaimed performance piece Franchise Freedom, which debuted during Art Basel/Design Miami 2017, and again at Burning Man 2018. Comprising 600 intel drones soaring through the night sky, this piece is a fluid simulation representing the flight patterns of starlings. Along with the running documentary at the exhibition, several drones are installed above, for added effect.
The other video space at Mint displays Drifters, a 12-minute long escapist film by Studio Drift and Sil van der Woerd. This film features a block of concrete, which is representative of our built environment, 'drifting' in the Scottish Highlands, in search of its origin and destination.
Making its debut at Mint, the inspiration for Coded Coincidence came while Studio Drift was harvesting dandelions for Fragile Future and happened to observe elm tree seeds whirling through the city of Amsterdam, a phenomenon called ‘spring snow’. This immersive installation is on display at Mint Museum Uptown’s incomplete Level 5 expansion space, which provides an edgy, industrial feel. Visitors at the exhibition can walk through a huge acrylic chamber, as more than 30 steerable wind blowers direct and lift elm seeds to twirl around the viewer. “Their size, weight, and form are engineered by nature to flow delicately on the slightest stream of air,” says Ralph Nauta. “All to find a place to survive and bring new life. That fascinated us, that nature can seem random but always has a purpose. We want to try to understand this behavior and capture it.”
Immersed in Light is a wholesome tribute by Studio Drift, expressing their enthrallment with nature’s intricacy and grandeur. These creative and beautifully compelling pieces of art are a conscious and physical exemplification of nature’s myriad ways, the extent of technology, and the relationship humans share with both.
‘Immersed in Light: Studio Drift at the Mint’ is on from September 20, 2019 till April 26, 2020 at The Mint Museum Uptown in Charlotte, North Carolina.