Entertainment » Fine Arts

Science As Art: Two Installations Straddle the Art/Science Divide

by Doug Rule
Wednesday Feb 20, 2013

Tobias Klein is not one of those people who argue that modern society has become too obsessed with technology.

''Our electronic environment is becoming part of us, yet so far we only [accept] this on small mobile phones,'' the German-born, U.K.-based artist says. ''We're actually not fully grasping the quality and the possibility of this medium that engulfs us.''

The fields of art and architecture have been especially slow to experiment with technology, continues Klein, who's certainly bucking that trend. Klein is responsible for not one but two crowd-sourced installations now at Northeast D.C.'s Industry Gallery. Propelled in part by images uploaded from the public to its dedicated website, ''Virtual Sunset'' demonstrates the shifts in color and light brought on by a sunset. Part of a three-year project that started last year with a short stint at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, the three-dimensional installation allows visitors to move through a large block of long silicone translucent tubes, hanging from the ceiling, with light projected onto them from the website's repository.

For the second Industry Gallery installation, Klein partnered with Alex Kaiser, a fellow teacher at the Architecture Association School of London and co-founder of the British firm Ordinary Ltd. ''Invisible Human'' is a science-as-art piece that involves the growing of crystals to form parts of a human body. Visitors online and at the gallery can manipulate the glass-encased crystals' growth through intentional shifts in temperature and humidity, all as a reflection of how the real human body grows and changes.

Klein seems to relish the unusual and hard-to-describe nature of his work, taking pride in the fact that both Art Daily and Popular Science have covered the installations -not trade publications you'd expect to be interested in the same topic.

It's all manifestation of Klein's broader point: ''I think there's this huge potential in developing art as a reflection on our natural society.''

''Virtual Sunset'' and ''Invisible Human'' through March 19 at Industry Gallery, 1358 Florida Ave. NE, 2nd floor. Call 202-399-1730 or visit industrygallerydc.com.

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