Lehmann Maupin is pleased to announce Souls, an exhibition featuring three video installations by Los Angeles-based artist Jennifer Steinkamp. A pioneer in the field of 3-D animation, Steinkamp works exclusively in digital media, using cutting-edge technology to render organic and abstract forms in motion that give deeper insight into the often unseen complexities of the natural environment. Her immersive installations are projected at a large scale in response to the architectural interiors in which they appear. Each work alters the viewer’s typical experience of an object within a gallery and invites a more comprehensive understanding of space and time.
The centrepiece of the exhibition is Blind Eye, 4 (2019). One of a suite of animations inspired by the landscape that surrounds the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts—the site of a major exhibition of Steinkamp’s work in 2018—life size projection depicts a monocular frontal view of a dense forest of birch trees. The title references the characteristic dark spots that punctuate the pale bark of these trees, which for Steinkamp resemble blank, staring eyes. As the trees sway—sometimes quite violently—the leaves fall like a gentle rain. However, as is the case in all Steinkamp’s works, this process unfolds without beginning or end. While the allusion to the changing seasons is clear, Blind Eye, 4 exists outside of a linear narrative—it is a moment removed from its temporal context.
Also featured in this exhibition is Primordial (2020), a new animated installation set underwater that depicts symbiosis and the early beginnings of life on earth. In Primordial, Steinkamp imagines a lively underwater ecosystem where organisms and plant life drift down from above as oxygen bubbles upward. Bursts of light flash in the background, further animating the life forms that move and collide in a poetic dance that celebrates life and regeneration through the natural environment. The third work, Daisy Chain Twist (2004), presents a hanging garland of woven flowers swaying lazily in an unfelt breeze. The curtain of daisies appear to wriggle and writhe under their own power, carefully choreographed to mesmerise the viewer.
Souls offers a sanctuary that invites a close, even microscopic look at the natural environment and exemplifies the breadth and ambition of Steinkamp’s practice. These works highlight the important historical position she holds as a leader in digital animation and as one of the first to experiment with constructing imagery—including colour, texture, and movement—by wholly digital means. By simulating natural movement in cycles that are at once familiar-seeming yet entirely unique, Steinkamp conjures the uncanny impression of artificial life that is both rooted in past modes of representation while looking, with optimism, towards the future.
Press release courtesy Lehmann Maupin.