Sarah Meyohas “Cloud of Petals”

Red Bull Studios

poster for Sarah Meyohas “Cloud of Petals”
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Red Bull Arts New York presents New York-based artist Sarah Meyohas’ first large-scale exhibition and virtual reality experience, Cloud of Petals. The two-floor exhibition is the culmination of an extensive yearlong project that is both archival and experiential. Meyohas investigates the artificiality of beauty by enlisting the faculties of human subjectivity through a body of work that integrates sculpture, photography, artificial intelligence, and organic matter.

The project began in the Summer of 2016, when the artist gathered 16 men, all sourced from a temporary work agency, for an in-situ performative data collecting ritual at Eero Saarinen’s Bell Labs site in Holmdel, New Jersey. Centered within the dramatic Josef Albers-inspired floor pattern in the atrium of the abandoned site—the hallowed ground that gave birth to Data Theory—the artist positioned the workers at individual workstations, and filmed the men over the course of several days. They fastidiously plucked the petals off each rose, carefully selecting, preserving, and photographing them to create a physical subset. The men chose the petals they deemed most beautiful—a process that embeds the workers’ subjectivity into the data set. The efforts of these men resulted in the harvest of a critical data set of nearly 100,000 unique rose petals that would define the foundation of an artificial intelligence algorithm capable of creating new, unique petals forever.

For Cloud of Petals, 3,289 of these painstakingly preserved rose petals are fashioned into a mosaic as part of a large architectural intervention at Red Bull Arts New York. The archival wall reads as an elite rose petal taxonomy, funneling the viewer into the auditorium where the artist’s 30-minute film—of the performance art piece shot on 16mm at Bell Labs—plays on a loop. In the main gallery, four ominous sculptures loom, dotting the large space like standing alien sarcophagi undergoing a ritualistic software update, encased using the salvaged modular steel walls from Bell Labs. Meyohas integrates an infinity mirror, a device she’s employed throughout her practice, as an infinite call and response where the boundaries of time and space seem unending. Lastly, visitors encounter the exhibition’s VR component: a series of gaze-based experiences that manipulates this organic data set for the viewer’s pleasure, featuring new, uniquely generated petals using AI and the 100,000 picture data set.

Cloud of Petals becomes a site for contemplation about a post-human reality. The artist gestures at lingering social commentaries relating to feminine versus masculine labor, and probes the future of labor in the face of automation. Can machine learning or man pick the most beautiful rose petal? Meyohas serves up a weighty conceit, sincerely formalist in her intentions, yet rooted in a scientific rigor that suggests a certain faith in the potential of what is to come.

Sarah Meyohas (b. 1991, French-American) uses networks of information, power, value, and communication. Meyohas has had solo exhibitions at Independent Régence in Brussels, Galerie Pact in Paris, and 303 in New York. Her work has been included in shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, The Aperture Foundation in New York, Regen Projects in Los Angeles. In 2015, she invented BitchCoin, her personal cryptocurrency.

Meyohas holds a B.A. in international relations from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in finance from the Wharton School, and in 2015 received an M.F.A. from Yale University. She is based in New York and runs an eponymously named gallery, Meyohas, in Long Island City.

Media

Schedule

from October 12, 2017 to December 10, 2017

Artist(s)

Sarah Meyohas

Fee

Free

Venue Hours

From 12:00 To 20:00
Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays

Access

Address: 220 W 18th St., New York, NY 10011
Phone: 917-216-7380

Between 7th and 8th Aves. Subway: 1 to 18th Street.

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