The exterior of the installation is a white tent. Within this is a group of small transparent model houses creating a miniature townscape, all resting on a clear undulating base. Hand-cut transparent pattern pieces are arranged in a circle indicating frost enclosing the town. Thirteen disks and mirrors suspend above the scene and reflect both the images projected from the two videos and the bodies of the viewers as they enter and move through the artspace.
How would you describe this installation and how does it work?
The tent measures 5.2m diameter x 5.2m high and has inclusions as noted above. As a three-dimensional structure it encourages the viewer to step inside and explore further the images reflected on the exterior fabric.
As can be seen above, the clear Mylar houses are very small and it’s the strategic placement of the lights that throw and enlarge the shadows that can be seen outside and which bring the public nearer to examine the town itself.
I can find no definitive text that states what material the tent is made from but Ed Pien is known for his use of Tyvek, Mylar and similar products. Having said that, perhaps in this case, as he is depicting a dwelling that is familiar to many, he has used a fabric. However, I lean towards white plastic sheeting. The items within are all plastic or mirror based.
Is it abstract, figurative or a combination? Is it representative or reflective? Is it conceptual or materials-led?
The tent itself (assuming it is plastic sheeting) and the groundcover, are waterproof indicating that the item could actually be used as a shelter if need be. However the exhibit goes further than just the creation of a safe-haven or temporary home. Inspired by a drawing by Shuvinai Ashoona and a residency in Cape Dorset (where she is based) Ed Pien took particular note of the prefabricated houses that constitute the community. His videos depict an Inuit elder making the foldable Mylar houses whilst a young girl is playing with and arranging them.
Although it is primarily a figurative work (the fact that it clearly depicts a dwelling or home) a more abstract message is also present. His artist statement reads In Imaginary Dwelling, boundaries of present and past collapse while ghostly houses become metaphor for memory, loss and hope for a better future
Looking at it as a conceptual piece, it is quite typical of his style and is the latest in his continuing practice of working with light, shadow, reflections and public interaction within his large-scale dimensional designs.
I find his art extremely inspirational. The use of lighting within layers of cut-out materials brings life to the works and the ability to interact with the installations by entering and moving through them creates a refuge from the real world, a temporary loss of external influences which increases the experience.
http://www.edpien.com/installations-imaginary-dwelling – further information on this installation can be found here.
http://www.edpien.com/installations-imaginary-dwelling – photographs and some text references.