Chevy Chase, MD
Kenyon Class of ’14, Studio Art major
Over the last few years I have become increasingly interested by space and by all the different ways in which it can be conceived. I am particularly interested in more abstract conceptions of space, such as dreamed or imagined spaces. It is sometimes surprising how powerful it can be to simply be present in a space, how much we can be moved by a setting without an explicit narrative. I always find it rewarding to sit back and absorb the ambience, even if I am just on the subway or sitting at my grandparents’ house. Even in unfamiliar places, one’s evaluation of one’s surroundings is inevitably informed by one’s own memories and emotions, which often makes the contemplation of a space conducive to the contemplation of the self.
My installation environment, The Sun Is Always Setting Here, is directly derived from an ongoing series of abstract digital prints that I have been working on over the last year or so. My goal with those pieces was to create mesmerizing patterns of color and form that fell somewhere between naturalistic and artificial. While I was often pleased with the results, I was dissatisfied with their capacity to envelop the viewer to the extent that I wanted. Consequently, I adapted the imagery from those prints and began to implement it in a new way by projecting it onto various surfaces around the audience in order to more directly engage the viewer with the imagery and the space. It is from this new vein of work that The Sun Is Always Setting Here was born.
My inspiration is drawn from a wide variety of sources, most of which are probably lost to my memory by now, but my installation work has been informed primarily by the work of James Turrell. Turrell’s specialty is the utilization and manipulation of light. Active since the late 1960’s and armed with a BA degree in perceptual psychology, Turrell’s work directly engages how light influences the perception of space and architecture. Speaking to this, Turrell stated in an interview, “If you’re on stage with very bright footlights, you look out, but you cannot see the audience. So you’re in a space that’s the same architectural physical space as the audience, but you’re in a different visual space.” Since my installation pieces are primarily driven by projected light images, Turrell’s approach to transforming the perception of a space through primarily light-based means has been particularly inspirational as I have developed my ideas and my aesthetic.
I want my work to impose a certain mood or atmosphere over the space in which it is installed. Ideally, the space should be completely transformed and be devoid of distraction. My goal is to create a space that is arresting to the viewer and which will fill them with awe or wonder or justify an extended contemplative stay.
— Nicholas Anania, ‘14