Spencer Finch at Mass MOCA



I recently saw Brooklyn based artist, Spencer Finch’s show, What Time Is It on the Sun? at Mass MOCA, in North Adams, Massachusetts. The show is an investigation of nature—of light, color, wind, and gravity– that is both conceptually and visually interesting.

The exhibits included are Finch’s sometimes obsessive and often poetic attempt to capture ephemera, the results of exercise in experiential study. For example, in order to create Night Sky (Over the Painted Desert, Arizona, January 11, 2004), Finch worked with a flashlight in a parking lot in the Painted Desert, mixing colors to match the color of the sky. He then weighed the physical mass of each pigment in the mixture and calculated the molecular ratio of each color in the combination. Each of the 401 incandescent bulbs of varying sizes is then used to create electrified models of each pigment’s molecular structure.

CIE 529/418 (Candlelight) uses stained glass filters to transform the day light into the color of candlelight, as determined by a colorimeter.

Sunlight in an Empty Room (Passing Cloud for Emily Dickinson, Amherst, MA August 28, 2004) uses a specific mixture of florescent lights to replicate the Massachusetts sunlight in Emily Dickinson’s yard on a late August afternoon. A cloud is then depicted with a mass of translucent blue, gray and violet filters that are held together with clothespins. As they walk around Finch’s cellophane cloud, viewers can then experience the precise light conditions made by the passing cloud in Dickinson’s yard.

Particularly interesting and unexpected is Finch’s choice of materials; they include cellophane, florescent light bulbs, incandescent lights, fans and artificial turf—synthetic materials that Finch manipulates to describe the organic or natural phenomena.

Pictured are: Night Sky (Over the Painted Desert, Arizona, January 11, 2004), CIE 529/418 (Candlelight) and Sunlight in an Empty room (Passing Cloud for Emily Dickinson, Amherst, MA August 28, 2004)

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