Soo Sunny Park & Spencer Topel Transform a Chain-Link Fence into Art

 

Artist Mary Goldthwaite-Gagne studies “Capturing Resonance,” a piece made of chain-link fencing on view at the deCordova Museum. (Photo by Michelle Aldredge)

On my recent visit to the deCordova Museum, one of the artworks I found most compelling was “Capturing Resonance” by sculptor Soo Sunny Park and composer Spencer Topel.

Park, who was born in Seoul, Korea, currently lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she is an Associate Professor of Studio Art at Dartmouth College. The sculptor is best known for turning quotidian building materials like insulation and dry wall into sublime, experiential installations. For “Capturing Resonance,” Park has transformed the unconventionally-shaped Window Gallery of the deCordova into a multi-sensory environment using chain-link fencing.

Depending on the time of day, rainbow hued shadows fill the Window Gallery, shifting from crisp representations of the structure to abstract color washes. (Photo by Peter Harris courtesy the de Cordova Museum)

Soo Sunny Park

Soo Sunny Park is best known for turning quotidian building materials like insulation and dry wall into sublime, experiential installations. (Photo by Michelle Aldredge)

deCordova-Soo Sunny Park

When artists like Park re-purpose common materials, I find the technique is most effective when the everyday object becomes enmeshed in the final piece and doesn’t advertise its cleverness in an overt, obnoxious way. The subtlety of Park’s piece only adds to its drama. (Photo by Michelle Aldredge)

By inserting thousands of iridescent acrylic Plexiglas squares into chain link cells, Park has created a sprawling, undulating form that transmits, reflects, and refracts both the natural and artificial light into the gallery. (Photo by Peter Harris courtesy the de Cordova Museum)

When artists like Park re-purpose common materials, I find the technique is most effective when the everyday object becomes enmeshed in the final piece and doesn’t advertise its cleverness in an overt, obnoxious way. The subtlety of Park’s piece only adds to its drama. Only careful observers will recognize the fencing material, and I suspect some visitors never notice it at all.

By inserting thousands of iridescent acrylic Plexiglas squares into chain link cells, Park has created a sprawling, undulating form that transmits, reflects, and refracts both the natural and artificial light into the gallery. The Plexi and chain link fence units appear as biomorphic forms, overwhelming the field of vision of each visitor as they enter the gallery.

Depending on the time of day, rainbow hued shadows fill the space, shifting from crisp representations of the structure to abstract color washes with the path of the sun. Hanging from the third floor ceiling, “Capturing Resonance” is well-designed for the space–it is visible from outside the museum and is a welcoming presence when passing through the museum’s stairwell.

Hanging from the third floor ceiling, “Capturing Resonance” is well-designed for the space–it is visible from outside the museum and is a welcoming presence when passing through the museum’s stairwell. (Photo by Peter Harris courtesy the de Cordova Museum)

Soo Sunny Park & Spencer Topel

Layering an audio dimension onto “Capturing Resonance,” Spencer Topel blends whispering chords, soft tonal washes, and elongated instrumental sounds into a continuous, continually changing composition. (Photo by Michelle Aldredge)

When approaching the museum at night, “Capturing Resonance” can be seen hovering above Steve Lambert’s “Capitalism Works For Me! True/False,” which is part of the deCordova Biennial. (Photo by Michelle Aldredge)

Only careful observers will recognize the fencing material, and I suspect some visitors never notice it at all. (Photo by Michelle Aldredge)

Layering an audio dimension onto “Capturing Resonance,” Spencer Topel blends whispering chords, soft tonal washes, and elongated instrumental sounds into a continuous, continually changing composition. As I walked through the space, motion sensors in the installation responded by activating different sounds that varied in both intensity and frequency. Depending on the number of people in the space, the sounds increased or decreased accordingly.

“Capturing Resonance” is part of the ongoing PLATFORM series at the deCordova, which invites emerging and mid-career artists to create a work in response to the museum’s indoor or outdoor space.

I found “Capturing Resonance” a memorable experience, both sonically and visually. If you’re planning to catch the deCordova Biennial before it closes on April 22nd, be sure to spend some time in the Window Gallery exploring this fascinating installation. For directions, hours, and more information about the museum, please visit the deCordova website.

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By | 2017-03-05T10:27:16+00:00 03.30.12|Design, Greatest Hits, Images, Sounds, Spaces|6 Comments

About the Author:

I’ve spent almost 20 years helping thousands of successful artists of all disciplines and working to make the arts more accessible. (One friend likes to call me “the arts enabler.”) From 1999-2012 I worked at The MacDowell Colony, the nation’s oldest artist colony, but I've also done time at an arts magazine, a library, an art museum, and a raptor rehabilitation center. In May of 2012 I left MacDowell to pursue writing, speaking, curating, and creative projects full-time. In 2015 I was named a “Top 100 Artist, Innovator, Creative” by Origin magazine. I've appeared as an arts and culture commentator on New Hampshire Public Radio, and in 2017 I was the recipient of the Wampler Art Professorship at James Madison University. I am the founder of the Gwarlingo Salon series, which connects artists like DJ Spooky with rural audiences in the Monadnock region. In 2017 my collaborator Corwin Levi and I will publish our first book, Mirror Mirrored, which combines Grimms’ fairy tales with vintage illustration remixes and the work of contemporary artists like Kiki Smith, Carrie Mae Weems, and Amy Cutler. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, but have called New Hampshire home since 1999. My studio is located in the historic, mill village of Harrisville. I miss fried okra, the early southern spring, and restaurants that stay open past 9:00 p.m., but rural life agrees with me. In New Hampshire I can see the stars, go kayaking or snowshoeing, watch bald eagles fish in the lake, and focus on my creative work in silence. I no longer have to worry about traffic jams; deer, wild turkeys, and frost heaves are the primary road hazards here. Although I live in the country, I’m fortunate enough to be part of a vibrant arts community that extends beyond this small New England village. The quiet days are punctuated by regular travel and frequent visits to museums, theaters, readings, arts events, lectures, and open studios around the country. (You can read my full CV here.) Thanks for visiting Gwarlingo. I hope you'll be in touch.

6 Comments

  1. Helen March 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Very colorful and so enchanting!

  2. Valerie April 1, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Sooo Beautiful. Makes my heart sing! Freedom!

  3. […] (photographs by Michelle Aldredge and Peter Harris via gwarlingot) […]

  4. Capturing Resonance - Le pamphlet April 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    […] par Michelle Aldredge, Soo Sunny Park et […]

  5. Lee Wilson April 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Can you PLEASE come do this to my neighbor’s chain linked fence?

  6. Courtney E. Lee May 3, 2012 at 11:42 am

    This is seriously gorgeous. I love it. I wish I had one…

Comments are closed.