My viewing experience of artist Ryan DaWalt’s magnetic new works at VSOP Projects in Greenport, Long Island.
Energy carries from room to room inside a two-story house setting where the works of twelve artists currently reside in the group show, “The Medium is the Message”.
The show holds a transference of power between the artists and their works; the energy carries out through their devotion to the medium and its process. The transference to the body is tangible in Ryan DaWalt’s environmental piece “Physic Screen”. Made up of twelve 2’ x 3’ wall-mounted pieces, it transmitsfluorescing patterns that mirror each other from one panel to the next. The subject matter is that of magnified LCD screens where the pixels come across as blocks of red, green and blue. These panels fluoresce by 5 handmade ultraviolet light sculptures on the opposite wall.
The environment is set in the back room of the gallery, where the patio door windows are tinted and the window blinds are drawn to control the natural light. There is a seemingly magnetic glow from the patterns that shift due to the natural ambient light through the windows over time during the day. Unless the viewer spends a duration in the environment, the changes are imperceptible.
Being a historic building, the room’s floor subtly slopes. Between the slope and waiting for the eyes to adjust, there is a delay while one’s senses are in a transitional state. The work seems to illuminate the air and the experience feels like surfacing after diving deep underwater, climbing to high altitudes, or going from a dark setting into bright outdoor light.
Looking at patterns
In a conversation with the artist, I learned of his personal interest in pattern recognition. This interest is in part from his pedagogy of grade school students with autism, where patterns, pictograms, and repetition improve learning and cognition. These ways of teaching and transferring knowledge lead to the artist’s empathy and ability to bring diverse perspectives to perception. “
About the color
The neon-like color that fully sighted visitors see – red, green and blue – is theresult of the artist’s devoted process of controlling these specific lighting conditions. In thinking about what a color blind viewer or an individual with color vision deficiencies might see, it will be a varying combination of pigments and displays.
The process and medium
As the viewer continues to adjust to and absorb the magnetic energy in the room, they can also start to understand the science behind it all. The fluorescing pigment the viewer sees is being held to the paintings with magnetic force.
- Metal is added to the chosen pigments (of red, green and blue).
- Once metal is added to the paint body, it becomes ferromagnetic (having a high susceptibility to magnetization).
- The pigments are held in place by magnetic force.
- The magnets also radiate unseen oscillations that interact with the viewers own bioelectric aura.
- The Ultraviolet light sculptures causes a chemical change in the pigment and “extend the wavelength from the paint to the eye – causing an optical sensation of the paint illuminating from within”.
So to sum up, the artist is using effects of the electromagnetic spectrum that are both visible and invisible. ‘Psychic Screen’ challenges the substance of paint, the eye, and the viewer’s duration.
The role of weather and lighting
Even with the blinds drawn and windows tinted, the outside light can affect the viewer’s perceptual experience of the fluorescent pigments’ intensity. A cloudy day (like the day I visited) led to a more glowing effect. Whereas, brighter days might provide a very different energy and experience for the viewer.
In this way, the work’s energy and appearance is specific to time, weather, and the individual.