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ART QUIPS A NEW GENERATION OF UNCOMMON PERSPECTIVES February 2, 2009 by dante2

ART QUIPS

A NEW GENERATION OF UNCOMMON PERSPECTIVES

February 2, 2009

Erik Guzman at Front Room | Review by David Gibson

Every artist these days has more than a simple aesthetic, they have their own mythology to promulgate. It’s as if they want to present their art work not only as an example of their creative qualifications, but to manifest elements across the spectrum of their artistic history as individuals. The determination of quality being highly subjective, we are required to engage ourselves with the work on hand to such a degree that its mythos becomes evident.

In the drawings and sculptures of Erik Guzman, we are presented with work which depends upon, and in some cases actually produces, a light source. Think of the light bulb going off in the thought balloon of a cartoon character. Other sources of light are less allegorical but no less mimetic, such as the sun pacing its track across the sky, developing a notion of transience and duration even as it falls prey to the same immutable forces. The sense of alarm, an interruption of daily life to manifest a sense of eventfulness, is the paramount element in any of these circumstances. Light as controlled by man often has an illuminating (sic) aspect which its natural origin does not. Guzman’s sculptures and bas-relief drawings are unique in my experience of art. They seem to have emerged out of the genre of Science Fiction, specifically one in which hieroglyphics and celestial machines both have a place. I can see references to films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Tron, and The Terminator. Yet I also relate them to Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz and Frank Herbert’s Dune. Each of these works of literature or film, and the narrative subgenres to which they belong, presents us with a highly mythologized view of reality.

What Guzman’s work shares with them is his love of the opaque and the mysterious. In Clarke’s (and later Kubrick’s) masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey, we are given an alternate timeline to history in which an ominous presence, floating on the edges of humanity’s experience since the days of the caveman, makes itself known. The monolith object operates as a sort of cenotaph on man’s road into the future, marking a flashpoint at which a certain detour must be observed, in order that at least one destination be reserved for persons other than mankind. On the way to this moment, a series of transformations take place through which we are made to feel overwhelmed by transcendent powers. But what takes precedence in the perception of such events is also evident in Guzman’s work: an understanding of manifest visual conditions that overwhelm logic. The mythology evident in Guzman’s oeuvre takes two routes: the narrative of epics and the mystery of symbols. One may choose either route from which to find meaning. The narratives are oblique yet dynamic, and are etched in horizontal glass panes which sit on little ledges hung on the gallery walls to the left of the first room, and on the right are a set of hanging structures which are illuminated from within but seem to have the glass panes suspended behind cloth strips, so that light passing through them creates a subtle shadow resembling a watermark. The specific markings in the glass panes are oblique to say the least, and feature epic scaled sites which house events of metaphysical or spiritual grandeur: what appears to be either an endless building or a road stretching to infinity, interrupted by a swarm or infestation of small flowing creatures which seem vaguely elemental, as they are accompanied by glowing stars and seem to appear out of a rift in space. A more common figure is the silhouette of a man’s form, just his upper torso and head, with light emanating from him as he travels through a series of labyrinthine spaces toward a grand godlike figure whose own silhouette seems to merge with the fabric of reality, becoming less present while at the same time all-powerful. Guzman’s sculptures, which are installed together in a second room, are arranged so that the physical space needed for each, and its own projecting light, does not interfere with the others. As one walks around the room one discovers that the programmed movements of each is generated by a motion dictator, as if we were interlopers in a strange crypt. The machines themselves seem to be fashioned from a combination of metal and ceramic material, and they utilize a lot of open space, with portals in the surface so that one can look into the machine as it operates its specific and oblique function. All the metal parts are shiny and gleam in the aura of their own illumination. Approach one machine and the moving part arcs back and forth, with a light inside of it flashing on and off with a dreamy regularity that is almost serpentine. Another starts revolving very quickly, while another seems to fold up into itself, like an armadillo. The intermingling of a passive mythological element with the dynamic cultural content of wireless entertainment most commonly used in video games but having implications far beyond them is what gives Guzman’s work its rigor. We have always looked to machines for knowledge. The difference between actual machines such as the microwave and the Walkman, and imaginary ones such as jet-packs and laser guns, is often a matter of degree. Each of them extends the reach of what man can do. One of the implications of such far-reaching ability is that it will begin to resemble godlike proportion. The machines in Erik Guzman’s art are like a new species, making the first uncertain gestures into existence, instinctually marking space and extending the range of metaphor for how we see ourselves. Perhaps God is nothing more than a well-designed machine. If so, Guzman helps us to see the light.

Sirena de Huracanes, Hurricane Siren by dante2

Sirena de huracanes: propuesta de maqueta del proyecto a escala 1/3.Localización: Museo de arte de Caquas, Caquas PR. Colección permanente.

Descripción: escultura cinética con rueda giratoria luminosa de material reflectante. La rueda se haya parcialmente insertada sobre una cubierta semiesférica reflectante colocada dentro del muro de exhibición. La intensidad de la luz y velocidad de rotación de la rueda incrementa con la proximidad de la tormenta.

La maqueta/ prototipo Hurricane Siren/ Sirena de Huracanes es una propuesta de proyecto para el Museo de Arte de Caguas, mi ciudad de nacimiento. a pesar de mi marcha de Puerto Rico a una temprana edad siento ahora un gran interés por mi país de origen.

La investigación realizada para este proyecto sobre los orígenes de la ciudad de Caguas me encamino hacia los indios Taino. La naturaleza ocupa un importante lugar en la religión local. Al ser una isla, los huracanes y temporales cobran una especial importancia. La naturaleza se haya en el centro de la cultura local. Guabancex, la diosa de las tormentas, atrajo especialmente mi interés. el proyecto Hurricane Siren/ Sirena de Huracanes hace referencia al faro que la diosa dejo en la tierra para avisar a los habitantes de la isla de la proximidad de las tormentas.

La escultura cinética estará en constante movimiento. Cuando una tormenta se aproxime la velocidad e intensidad de la luz incrementaran. Constituirá una señal de aviso, una sirena, que informara a los visitantes de lo que les depara la naturaleza.  La escultura estará conectada a Internet para recibir los datos meteorológicos que dictaran su comportamiento. El proyecto hace uso de la tecnología moderna para reconectarse con la naturaleza. Por favor, clica en la siguiente imagen para reproducir el video del proyecto.

Hurricane Siren: Sirena de Huracanes, Hurricane Siren model, 1/3 working scale. Proposed location: Museo de Arte de Caquas, Caquas PR. For the permanent collections Description: Kinetic sculptural object that has a reflective rotating wheel of light. The wheel is mounted to the wall via a curved reflective shell. As a storm approaches, the light and speed of the piece will increase.

Hurricane Beacon / Faro de Huracán prototype proposal is for the Museo de Arte de Caguas. Caguas was where I was born. Even though I left Puerto Rico at a early age I am curious about where I came from. I started to do research about the origins of the city which led me to the Taino indians. In their religion nature seemed very important and being on an island hurricanes and heavy rains were of major concerns. Nature was the center of the culture. Guabancex, goddess of storms particularly interested me. The proposed project, Faro de Huracán, represents her beacon that she left on this earth to tell the people of the island that a storm is coming. The kinetic sculpture will consistently rotate and when a storm approaches the light and movement will increase. It will be a beacon telling what nature has in store for the viewers. The project uses internet access to the collect the information needed to govern the sculpture. It uses modern technology to connect back to nature.

Click on Image below to see MOVIE.

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LMCC, Weather Beacon, Stage I by dante2

I made the original idea/plan in Sketchup. It is easy to use and it functions as a great sketch pad. People can quickly see what you want to make but you do not have to go into every detail of what ever you are making. The easy and fun part is now over and I am starting the migration of the piece into Solidworks. Solidworks is great but I am always learning. The piece has four or five rotating wheels that light will be projected behind. There are some major engineering issues that have to be resolved but the most major one is how to have all these rotate and keep the supporting arm completely straight. Flex is bad. After I showed what I had done to Mark, very smart person. He made some suggestions that seemed to make sense. Make the functional mechanism a planetary gear system. Think of it as a all the mechanisms forming a pyramid protruding off the wall. It would be much more stronger then a pipe or rod coming of the wall. Flex would not be such a issue. hypothetically of course. So I threw out several weeks off work and started last week on a new system. It is not finished at all, but the main ideas of the mechanism is coming to light.

Update: I am now rethinking the planetary gear system, but the pyramid structure idea is good. More drawings need to be done to really figure it out.

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Mini nonsense by dante2

The work always starts to big and then slowly, over time, get more reasonable. Mini non sense in a smaller version of a earlier piece called Lost Sense. I have been making all my sculptural pieces in the computer first for the last 7 years. Starting with illustrator, then moving to vector works and now solid works. With every programs come mostly positive results. The only thing is that when you move from one program to the next you have to re-learn everything over. It seems that you never get to the finish line. Solidworks is a great program. The learning curve was steep but like everything if you spend enough time staring at it you slowly understand it a little bit better. With knowledge gives you freedom and it is really amazing what it can do. It allows you to see your mistakes before you make them in real. It still takes just as long to figure what you are making but the results are much better.

The reason that I am going into such detail about the process is that I think the piece has a certain finish and comforting scale that would not be obtained if not for the process.

The scaling down from Lost Sense was the planing stage for the Museo de Arte de Caguas and CAVA store proposal.

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LMCC GAPS grant / Weather Beacon by dante2

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Click on the image above to view movie.

Erik S. Guzman 2008 -09

The Weather Beacon

This Project will be made possible by the kind generosity of the following programs and institutions and companies.

LMCC's GAPS, Grant for Art in Public Spaces.

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Ambient Devices, giving the needed weather information for this project to succeed. "The Ambient Information Network represents one of the largest, if not the largest, datacasting networks in the United States" Alan Reiter, president of Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing

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Weather Beacon is a kinetic sculpture that will emit a code of flashing lights, forecasting the weather and will be situated in lower Manhattan.

This weather indicator will merge public wifi, structure, movement, and light through a physical object that invites the public to connect to nature through art.

Dimensions: 8' H x 12'W x 16'D

Project Weather Beacon is made possible, in part, through a grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council with the generous support of The September 11th Fund.

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Weather Beacon is a kinetic sculpture that will emit a code of flashing lights, forecasting the weather for a curious public in Lower Manhattan.

This weather indicator will merge public wifi, structure, movement, and light into an object that invites the public to connect to both physical and invisible surroundings through art.

From the days of the original Dutch settlement, to the landfill of oyster shells that expanded the southern tip of the island, weather and harbor activity have been major elements of life in Lower Manhattan. Through modernization, the area has moved away from this history and its close ties to nature. Project Weather Beacon will utilize modern materials and technologies to heighten the present-day viewer's awareness of weather patterns, connecting the public back to nature using modern means. The work will act as a translation tool, or oracle, that allows for the visualization of the invisible forces of nature.

The project will forecast the weather by using the public wifi connection in the area. Weather data will be received and translated into a simple language that will control the project. Being connected to the Internet, the sculpture will act as a beacon for the weather, but could also be used to broadcast stock market information, solar flares from the sun, or traffic on the FDR. Project Weather Beacon can be used to visualize any system in flux. Once the piece is constructed, the information fed to the beacon can be changed to enable different collaborative projects and ways to engage the public throughout the year.

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After doing more research the design has changed.  The main shape is still present but a lot more glass is present to show the working structure.

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Some simple shots placing Project weather beacon in a lower Manhattan environment, Fulton Street market and the sea port.

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What will it look like?

Aesthetically, the project mirrors icons of harbor life. Long mast-like poles will extend horizontally from the center of the hull's main structure. Four progressively sized anchors will spin at different speeds along the length of the mast. Light projected from behind the rotating anchors will create an array of different light patterns. The entire structure will be encased by thick shatterproof glass, allowing the viewer to experience the project safely. A weather key that clearly states the meaning of each pattern of lights and rotations will be posted on the outer glass of Project Beacon.