Bruno David is pleased to present a sculpture installation Oculus by Patricia Olynyk in the gallery’s vitrine space, Window on Forsyth (First shown at Palazzo Michiel dalle Colonne in Venice, Italy.) This exhibition will be Olynyk’s fourth exhibition with the gallery.
Since the popularization of complexity theory, cybernetics, and theories of coexistence in the 1960’s, artists have been inspired to design objects and environments that heighten the viewers’ awareness of the worlds that surround them. Science and technology have increasingly informed the realms of art and design and provided the means to enhance our understanding of our perceptual and behavioral responses to the world.
The 1966 cult classic, Fantastic Voyage, which inspired Isaac Asimov’s science fiction novel of the same name, offered viewers a mind-blowing journey through the human vascular system, provoking meditations on scale in various forms. Such affective encounters with scale — those which enhance our awareness of our bodies in relationship to other entities — also occur broadly throughout human experience, from viewing miniature particles through the lens of a microscope to wandering through monumental physical environments.
Oculus is in step with the affective turn in contemporary art and with artists who produce work that complicates both the viewer’s understanding of the relative scale of the object and also the relative scale of the viewer in relation to the object. This complex light sculpture depicts a colossal abstracted drosophila eye — replete with compound faceted surfaces — which is inspired in part by a series of scanning electron micrographs Olynyk produced in a transgenic lab several years ago. Its recalls the circular opening at the apex of a cupola and also alludes to a surveillance device, or drone hovering in mid-air. Viewers’ reflections play across the undulating surface and this apprehension of the ‘self’ effects both individual and collective behavior in the viewing space in unexpected and open-ended ways. This affective dynamic plays on the precariousness of interspecies coexistence within the world, one that is always contingent upon viewers’ bodies and the variability of the environment around them. The act of gazing at Oculus also puts into play the reciprocal condition of both seeing and being seen.
Oculus also invites us to ponder the impact of the gargantuan and the miniature on our perception of bodily presence and scale. This work explores those sensory modalities that play a dominant role in spatial perception and triggers the effect of scale on several fronts: first, in the viewer’s perception of the work’s relationship to architectural space; second, in the relationship between the micro and macro worlds; and third, in the viewer’s perception of their own bodily scale in relation to the work. Ultimately, Oculus strategically triggers an affective encounter with the colossally represented miniscule, offering a fantastic voyage that navigates spatial, temporal, and phenomenal worlds.
Olynyk received her MFA degree with Distinction from the California College of the Arts and spent four years as a Monbusho Scholar and a Tokyu Foundation Research Scholar in Japan. She is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including a Helmut S. Stern Fellowship at the Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan and a Francis C. Wood Fellowship at the College of Physicians, Philadelphia. She has held residencies at UCLA’s Design Media Arts Department; the Banff Center for the Arts in Canada; Villa Montalvo, California; and the Narrenturm institute and museum in Vienna. Her work has been featured at Palazzo Michiel in Venice, the Los Angeles International Biennial, The Brooklyn Museum, the Saitama Modern Art Museum in Japan, and Museo del Corso in Rome. Her solo exhibitions include: Sensing Terrains at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., Dark Skies at the Art I Sci Center Gallery at UCLA, and Transfigurations at Galeria Grafica Tokio, Tokyo, Japan. Other recent exhibitions include: Umwelt: Christine Davis, Patricia Olynyk and Meredith Tromble at the BioBAT Art Space, Brooklyn; Skeptical Inquirers at the Sidney Mishkin Gallery, Baruch College, New York; Sleuthing the Mind at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, and Ephemeral: Unraveling History at the Ruth S. Harley Gallery, Adelphi University, New York.
Olynyk is the Director of the Creative Research Institute, and the Florence and Frank Bush Professor of Art at Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis. She co-directs the Leonardo/ISAST NY LASER program in New York, which promotes cross-disciplinary exchange between artists, scientists, and scholars. Her writing is featured in publications that include Public Journal, the Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture, Technoetic Arts, and Leonardo Journal.