Guided Visit: SVA’s Suzanne Anker at the LxFactory, Lisbon

November 11, 2013

BFA Fine Arts Department Chair Suzanne Anker talks about her work Remote Sensing 8 (Pearl Jam), 2013, plaster, pigment and resin, on view as part of “Beam Me Up!” from November 8 – 30.

anker425What is “Remote Sensing”?
Remote Sensing (2013) is a series of work produced through rapid prototyping technology. A two-dimensional Photoshop file is extruded into three-dimensions; the software converts the image into an object. Through this conversion of zeros and ones, as well as the application of color, the sculpture shares resonance with pictorial maps and landscapes employed by remote sensing devices used in exploration. Whether mapping hostile environments such as Antarctica or the ruins of Chernobyl, zeros and ones create images, which are not otherwise decipherable.

It’s hard not to see these pieces in relation to the CGI landscapes of films like Avatar or the Life of Pi. What are your references?
The image to be extruded came from a body of work called Vanitas in a Petrie dish. Based on the art historical genre of painting depicting the fragility of life over time, I arranged a series of objects in a Petrie dish, which was then photographed. It was my way to conceive of a fusion between art history and present-day technology. The original work included a string of pink pearls and tiny beakers. When turned into a sculpture, the 2D image took on a likeness to teeth as well as pearls, referencing the scientific process of “seeding” replacement teeth and its analogy to culturing pearls. This body of work also engages with ideas about landscapes, both in fantasy worlds and in reality. Of course, the landscape is another well established genre in art history.

Much of your work walks the line between abstraction and representation. Why?
My work is always about experimentation: materially and conceptually. I am also interested in not becoming too literal, so I use metaphors to layer content. And of course, some of this is conscious and some unconscious. As modes of perception and sensation, they are always intertwined.

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