Phoebe Hoban 2017-11-30 21:55:45
Unnerving themes of global climate change and the oscillation of time inspire a new transcendent project commissioned by Audemars Piguet. It’s difficult to imagine a more ambitious, immersive installation than the one that Lars Jan has produced for the Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet. Created in close collaboration with a team of experts and guest curator Kathleen Forde, it has all the intricacy of one of the company’s acclaimed timepieces. Slow-Moving Luminaries is a two-story pavilion spanning an oceanside city block in Miami Beach, between 20th and 21st streets. On its lower level, the pavilion houses a labyrinth in the shape of an SOS, through which visitors weave their way while viewing five large-scale, cut-aluminum model buildings that move up and down, bobbing beyond the ceiling. The buildings, illuminated like lanterns, can be seen through circular windows, in photographs displayed in surrounding light boxes and in moving images on a series of diaphanous scrims lining the labyrinth. A stairway leads to an upper deck, which has a luxury hotel-style pool area set against the Miami skyline, while the pool is lined with SOS-inscribed tiles. As the buildings rise and fall, they can alternately be seen with the skyline background or seemingly sinking back into the sea. The installation relies on a sophisticated algorithm that precisely synchronizes its moving parts. Jan was chosen for the commission, says Forde, because “he constantly works in the tension between innovation and tradition. He is also a multimedia collaborative performance artist.” The installation, she adds, is a simulation that vacillates between two poles, “a cry for help and a contemplative state. It has an eerie, ominous beauty. As Brian Eno said, art is often like a safe space in which to think about very difficult things.” Jan got the idea for the piece after visiting Audemars Piguet in Switzerland and learning that every year there is less snowfall. He had been working on a project concerning climate change in Miami in 2015, during flooding rains, and was inspired by the seesaw notion of the snows diminishing in Switzerland while the sea was rising in Florida. The artist has long paid attention to climate issues, but he was also influenced by the 2016 political climate. A major aspect of the work is the oscillation as the buildings rise and fall 15 feet into the air, in different synchronized sequences, aligning like a miniature skyline once an hour. “I am oscillating myself to find a way to contemplate what is going on in the world,” Jan says, “between a scream for help and trying to reconcile it all.”
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