Gallery Hopping: Nina Canell Sculpts with Electricity at Barbara Wien, Berlin
Taking McLuhan's famous phrase to its physical conclusion.
Since the mid-September opening of Nina Canell’s “Foam-Skin Insulated Jelly Filled Vowel,” Barbara Wien Gallery in Berlin has become a space of complete transmission. The Swedish artist’s third solo show fills the gallery space with a series of electrical and amorphous installations, exploring the relationship between communicated content and its means of delivery.
Canell, who frequently examines the effects of energy displacement in her practice, presents an entirely new body of work whose forms are largely dictated by temperature, extending Marshall McLuhan’s famous coinage “the medium is the message” to its physical conclusion.
In one installed work, Shedding Sheaths (B) (2016), she showcases the morphed insulating skins of fiber-optic cables she found in Seoul, South Korea. The skins, which protect cables that transmit anything from codes to conversations, are warped by exposure to extreme heat and other external disruptions.
In another work, Flexion (2016), Canell collaborates with artist Robin Watkins to mobilize short-term memory wires, using mechanical charges of electricity to trigger organic changes in their forms. This process, similarly to her treatment of the fiber-optic cables, reconsiders the relationship of temporal energy to its material carriers.
With some of the works on view morphing and emitting sounds in response to the electricity flowing through them, this show is something to be experienced first hand.
Nina Canell, “Foam-Skin Insulated Jelly Filled Vowel” is on view until November 30, 2016.
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