12 January 2017

No Frontiers

Now open at LEA16 is No Frontiers, a bold immersive installation ("a futuristic journey towards the stars") by artist Gem Preiz. Stitched together in groups of 18 panels, his signature and immense fractal images depict complex, otherworldly scenes, and here lean toward the depiction of wondrous structures in the depths of outer space. The exhibition's title is inspired by the works of Lebanese-Franco author Amin Maalouf, of whom Gem said as we talked, "He's very much a humanist — simple and clear lessons of life all along his books — tolerance and human respect, because there are No Frontiers in space and in knowledge, and I'm fed up with all the walls people want to raise everywhere. Mankind's progress will come from more unity and sharing."

"In counterpoint of Metropolis and Wrecks, two of my last exhibitions, No Frontiers is inspired by a resolutely optimistic vision," continues Gem in the exhibitions notes. "The technology turns into something more aesthetic than enslaving, and the journeys to the outer space are no longer runaways but explorations, as those of real astronauts which will maybe allow to realize one of the dreams of Mankind (and for me its ultimate vocation): understand the Universe." As we talked further about the more optimistic stance of these current display, he said, "I spend hours on social networks, and TV news and world news are awful at the moment. So, from time to time, I open a scientific magazine and read about new discoveries ... and it makes me smile again. I've been always fond of science, and especially astronomy, which is easy to connect with the theme of the exhibit."

No Frontiers offers sixteen large fractal images, each displayed in a unique enclosed environment, all linked by a network of snaking tubular tunnels with circular airlocks (the display being, appropriately, set in space). In each room, a three-dimensional artwork complements the fractals — generally a more simplistic gesture that contrasts with the complexity of the fractals, although some of the three-dimensional pieces are fractals themselves, and many are in motion, swirling or gently drifting in space. The music, selected by Gem for the exhibition, adds a fourth dimension.

Navigating through the installation is simple and engaging — one simply flies, or, better yet, uses one of two vehicles available at the entrance (one has a single seat, the other a pair). Gem suggests the use of advanced lighting model and a draw distance of at least 400 (which comes in helpful at the culmination of the installation). He hopes to possibly add an another installation on LEA16 before the end of his artist residency grant from the Linden Endowment for the Arts in June, when the display of No Frontiers will come to a close.

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