Video still featuring Shih Chieh Huang’s piece Guardian of the Disphotic, on view at the Exploratorium from May 26 – September 3
SAN FRANCISCO (May 22, 2018) – Inflatable: Expanding Works of Art is a partnership between the Exploratorium, a museum of science, art, and human perception that is dedicated to exploring the world through art and science, and Colossal, a blog of art, design, and visual culture. The exhibition presents a selection of large-scale, inflatable artworks curated by Colossal’s founder and editor in chief, Christopher Jobson. The artworks are all by emerging and mid-career contemporary artists, and are distributed throughout the museum alongside the 650+ exhibits that demonstrate scientific and natural phenomena.
Staying true to the Exploratorium’s vision of a world where people think for themselves, and can confidently ask questions, question answers, and understand the world around them, the summer exhibition is an opportunity for visitors to interact with massive artworks inspired by the natural world that encourage questions about our relationship to it and expand our vision of what contemporary art can look like.
Australian artist Amanda Parer’s edgy and ephemeral artworks explore the natural world, its fragility, and our role within it. She uses scale, light, dark, humor, and drama to entice her audience with beautiful, mostly invasive species, enlarged within their given habitats.
For Inflatable, Parer Studio has installed two human figures from a larger piece called Fantastic Planet. Inspired by the 1973 animated classic of the same title, it depicts immense but benign humanoids from an alien planet, beginning to inspect humans and our environment. The piece encourages us to reconsider both our own size, and our outsized impact on the natural world.
Florida-based artist Jason Hackenwerth explores what he describes as “universal biology”—the curling, amorphous structures shared by nearly all living things. He twists and weaves hundreds of elongated party balloons in elaborate patterns. The enormous finished sculptures mimic patterns from nature, yet are unlike any known organism.
Cauldron Veil is Hackenwerth’s site-specific installation designed for Inflatable. Its shape evokes the mouth of a prehistoric creature, or the egg sac of some unknown life form.
Ranging from absurd inflatable “suits,” to architectural augmentations, Jimmy Kuehnle’s inflated artworks engage his audiences with a playful sense of the unexpected. “I try to find the line between the spectacle and the absurd,” he says. “If I can make something that you can’t quite put in a category, then maybe there’s going to be a short circuit and you’ll have a genuine interaction.” Kuehnle’s art emphasizes the encounter, encouraging visitors to touch, squeeze, and play with soft and whimsical shapes.
For Inflatable, Kuehnle has created Bau(ncy) Haus, an environment of massive blue cylinders programmed to flash and light up in a way that evokes bottled lightning. A stroll through the inflated cylindrical forest is dissociative and transporting.