The artist's iridescent crystal sculptures evoke archeology and technology to question the impermanence and intangibility of the digital world
We caught up with her over email.
POSTmatter: Technology is often presented in an idealised light today - as something fluid that enhances our ability to act on the world. In your sculptures, it's much more calcified and broken down. What are you exploring here?
Amy Brener: I imbue my sculptures with the look of slow, geologic time in order to demonstrate a futile search for permanence. In a culture ruled by disposability, trying to make an object that will somehow pass the test of time seems particularly absurd. Technology is becoming increasingly invisible, intangible and fused into us. My sculptures point in the opposite direction, where technology can be big and bulky, and have a conversation with the body without occupying it. To make sculpture is to work with real space and experience your body within it. This awareness of the physical self seems fleeting in day-to-day life, in which we are stuck digesting a constant feed of digital information. My sculptures are richly textured in order to appeal to the tactile sense, which is somewhat diminished by our excessive touching of screens.
PM: There seems to be a mid-century sci-fi aesthetic to your sculptures - of alien worlds where society would be powered by crystals, or of mysterious monoliths from outer space. Are you subverting these narratives in some way, as visions of the future that never came to pass?
AB: I’ve always been interested in machines depicted in sci-fi imagery and film, particularly in control panels that are meant to appear functional. Because their specific functions usually remain mysterious, the audience is free to imagine them. I’m looking for a similar result when I arrange compositions of buttons and dials in my sculptures. I want the viewer to be able to project imagined uses onto them. I conceive of my current sculptures as machines, but don't further define what purposes they might serve. I allow the process of their making to build a narrative within them and the final results often surprise me.
My sculptures are richly textured in order to appeal to the tactile sense, which is somewhat diminished by our excessive touching of screens.
PM: Can you tell us a bit more about your physical process, and the materials you’re attracted to?
AB: I spend a great deal of time out in the world looking for things, culling from many different sources –streets, beaches, dollar stores, thrift shops, plastic emporiums. I like to maintain an arsenal of objects in my studio to draw from. When starting a sculpture, I make a composition of objects in a mold, and begin to pour on top of it. I mix small portions of resin or gypsum and pour many layers, adding pigment to each. I like to combine glossy, ethereal textures with rough and gritty ones. Some of the embedded materials create light effects by refraction, reflection or distortion. In the end, the appearance of each sculpture is sensitive to light and will change as the viewer moves around it.
For more on Amy Brener’s work, click here.