The Natural Majesty & Scientific Interface of SOLAR ART

An International Team of Solar Artists Redesign the Regional Landscape

Posted In:   From Issue 777   By: Robert E Martin

26th September, 2013     0

As explained in our last edition of The Review, a pivotal component of the month long Art & Sol Celebration is centered around the impact of solar artwork, which harnesses the power of the sun in an innovative and expressive way. By integrating alternative energy technologies that collect solar energy and use it to power light, sound or moving parts, solar artwork ushers in an entire new era and level of artistic creativity.
Throughout the month of October in addition to the area's regional arts organizations and groups hosting performances, workshops, symposia, classes and more related to solar art, inspired by our region's product development & manufacturing concentrated in the solar power field, the Great Lakes Bay area will showcase the first major display of solar art in the world, with over 20 sculptures shown throughout the region, all powered by solar energy to create a spectacle of light, sound & movement.
This will include the works of 13 invited artists, including the installation of Night Garden, which is powered entirely by solar energy. The flowers are charged by sunlight during the day and illuminated through energy-saving LED lights at night. The unveiling of Night Garden will take place at the Art & Sol kick-off at First Merit Event Park in Saginaw on September 28th.
Invited artists will include the London based Design artists Loop.pH, Italian artist Eleanora Nicoletti, Dzach and Suchy from Switzerland, and renowned American artists Anthony Castronovo, Craig Colorusso and Andrew Woodard.
For example, in his recent work Solar artist Anthony Castronovo has been exploring public art as a tool for public engagement and as a way to create awareness around issues like climate change, alternative energy, and water quality issues. For the Art & Sol Festival he has created two solar powered robotic flowers that will move throughout the day and light up at night. Made of natural materials and fibers, as well as recycled materials - his work is representative of the synergy involved with this festival.
In addition to the larger sculptures, Castronovo is engaging local school children by having them build 100 smaller solar powered flowers that would be installed around the larger one, creating a field of seedlings - the next generation.
Art and design can be broadly categorized within the historical movements of environmental art, current interdisciplinary projects dealing with the field of public art, and more recently landscape and urban design thinking that expresses an invested interest in creating spaces that are more sustainable and productive. Whereas using new technology in the assistance of art creation has been a tactic for artists throughout all art historical periods, the usage of solar energy in current projects is unique. Solar energy is a very basic technology, and although many advances have been made in the past 15 years in solar energy harvesting, the basis of the technology, the sun, is nothing new.
Thus, the comparison between solar art and new media art -- a popular method of art making and thinking presently -- can only present partial accuracy in designation. One cannot say that the sun is new per se, but rather that it is just now being more fully understood. Within the solar art discipline, it might be more completely understood to take into account the current interests in new media and sustainability issues, but to also consider the field's indirect representation of a potential philosophical shift in the ways in which we are beginning to see our world, its citizens, and its finite resources
Today, we can define a solar artwork as a new concept of artistic installation that integrates the new technologies related to collection and use of solar power. Thanks to this capability to produce clean energy, these works offer some resources and possibilities that have remained unnoticed until now in this field of art. These works combine art, architecture, design, science, and a common objective to create new aesthetic spaces within urban landscapes where, at the same time, they can take an active part in the ecological global awareness.
The future of art in this respect is similar in that we will see more artists and designers using solar power in unique and inspiring ways. The aesthetic limitations of a flat square panel will be overcome with flexible materials that will be able to conform to a variety of shapes and forms. Furthermore, eventually solar will be able to be sprayed onto any surface. There is a firm presence in art today of solution-based projects and in community-based projects that have redefined the way that art functions in society. Many of the solar projects we see today are celebrations of solar technology and innovation and they promote solar technology as something exciting but also as something to play with. In the future it will no longer be a novelty to see solar technology incorporated in public art projects. It will be a given that a kinetic work, or a light-based work, or anything outdoors that requires power, will utilize solar technology.
An example of what we can expect to see is represented by the pictured Charm Installation that will be exhibited on the Double Tree Property in Bay City. The installation will be 12 ft. high and 8 ft. wide and is created by solar artist Deedee Morrison.  Additional installations will consist of Solar Night by Stepen Gutierrez that will be displayed at Wenonah Park and Marquee 3 that will also be displayed at Wenonah Park and will glow with LED lighting at night. This work is the creation of artist Andrew Woodard.
Additionally, the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science & Art will be featuring an expansive display of laser art created by Mike Gould that will run from October 5 - December 22ndGould was a 2012 ArtPrize participant and has installed five pieces of kinetic laser art that has central themes of alphabetics, wordplay, language and typography.  Containing interactive elements, its pure color and kinetic patterns of swirling laser projections create an immersive experience for the viewer.
According to ABDow Museum director Bruce Winslow, “We're very excited to be featuring this work of Mike Gould's because the museum has never featured any laser art before. I remember featuring some earlier laser art at the Hall of Ideas back in the 1970s, but this new work takes the possibilities to entirely new levels. The interactive possibilities with the viewer are spectacular and this new work creates a very immersive experience that needs to be  witnessed to be truly appreciated.”


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