AfterimageMarch 13, 2012
The works in Afterimage all stem from Hillary Wiedemann’s fascination with and research on the sun and the phenomenology of perception, but the tactile and participatory qualities of the works on display dominate the experience of the exhibition. In Sun Shadow (2012), a three-channel projection, viewers’ bodies cast shadows that block parts of the red-green-blue (RGB) spectrum. Their movements expose the science of color in light, while creating a tantalizing kinesthetic experience, in which viewers direct the mixing of color.
Viewers have no choice but to interact with Untitled (for Goethe) (2012), an installation of glass microspheres that coat the white floor tiles. The microspheres elicit an immediate tactile response: viewers not only see the changes in illumination as the light is reflected on the microspheres but also experience the spheres’ sandy texture underfoot. These sensations are constant throughout the exhibition, resulting in an involuntary yet sustained interaction with the piece. Indeed, the only aspect of the show that was physically separate from the floor tiles was Wiedemann’s looped audio installation 8 minutes, 18 seconds (2012), which includes processed and slowed recordings of solar oscillations. Wiedemann presents the ominous low buzzes and booms of the solar oscillations in a small room covered in black felt, with the window blackened by vinyl. In this absolutely dark void, an audience listens to the sounds of the brightest light.
The work in Afterimage illustrates the artist’s keen understanding of how light operates, as well as a serious
dedication to a research-based practice. Many of the works have specific references and material sources (for example, solar recordings), but there is no didactic impulse, nor is the exhibition’s checklist annotated. Viewers can react only to what they visually and aurally experiences. This speaks to the title of the exhibition, which refers to a visual image or other sense impression that persists after the stimulus that caused it is no longer present. Wiedemann’s research acts as a stimulus producing an experience whose provenance is not overtly legible to its audience, creating a semblance of what was once present. Viewers are left not with a cerebral interpretation of the content of the work but a kinesthetic and aesthetic experience of awe, inspiration, and play.
Afterimage is on view at MacArthur B Arthur, in Oakland, CA, through April 1.
Dana Hemenway is an artist based in San Francisco. She received her MFA in Studio Art from Mills College in 2010.