MORNING LINKS Morning Links: Pareidolia Edition BY The Editors of ARTnews POSTED 08/10/17 9:00 AM

Personages

John Currin painted one of four different covers for the 125th-anniversary issue of Vogue, with his brush summoning the visage of Jennifer Lawrence. “To be in a situation of producing a cover for this famous magazine, I’m a little scared,” Mr. Currin told the New York Times. “I do worry about decorum.” [The New York Times]

“Objects are people too: the quirky world of facial pareidolia—in pictures.” Eyes and mouths are everywhere! (Pareidolia, noun: the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern.) [The Guardian]

Massachusetts

Here’s a good look into the story of the Berkshire Museum’s controversial plan to deaccession 40 works and sell at them at Sotheby’s in an auction estimated at $50 million. [PBS Art Beat]

“Mammoth doilies blanketing boulders and wafting in the leaves overhead” are among the riches in two museum exhibitions that come in for good reviews in Cape Cod. (One is at Highfield Hall and the other at Heritage Museums & Gardens.) [The Boston Globe]

Shows

Jason Farago went to the Windy City to see the Art Institute of Chicago’s retrospective of Paul Gaugin, a “resounding, rollickingly diverse exhibition” of an artist with no small amount of baggage to unpack. [The New York Times]

In Iceland, a photography show coheres around a title that does not mince words: “F*CK GENDER.” [The Reykjavik Grapevine]

Here’s a look into disused trolley tunnels in Washington, D.C., that have been turned into a literal underground art space under the name Dupont Underground. [The New York Times]

Write/Learn

Here’s a profile of art writer Taylor Renee Aldridge, who was named one of “20 people who are making Michigan a better place.” [Detroit Metro Times]

Kari Byron, an on-camera personality on TV’s MythBusters and The White Rabbit Project, advocates for art to be integrated with traditional STEM education devoted science, technology, engineering, and math—better to be known, in her estimation, as STEAM. [Popular Science]

Misc.

Taking 200,000 objects from the collection of the Met as its purview, Google has a “public dataset [that] is invaluable for anyone who wants to learn how to build a custom machine-learning model, create an app for sorting and visualizing the images, and more.” [Google]

Here’s some more background on dOGUMENTA, an exhibition for dogs opening tomorrow in New York. [Metro]

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Behind the Fold: Matthew Shlian’s Paper Art

By  | July 25, 2017

From his early experiments with folded book art, Matthew Shlian has sprung exuberantly in many directions. Kirigami—the art of cutting, folding, and gluing paper—is the medium he’s chosen to explore the paradox of how a two-dimensional material can create three-dimensionality. Paper has special properties that enhance experimentation because it can collapse, expand, and return to its starting point as if it has memory. Sometimes Shlian designs on the computer, using 3-D modeling programs, and he often finds use for flatbed plotter cutters, but he always folds, glues and assembles by hand. As he’s said in many interviews: “If you can hold something in your hand, you can understand it.” For his graduate thesis at Cranbrook, he built Misfold, a thirteen-foot, folded paper kinetic sculpture that, with the help of a robot, slowly and rhythmically rises vertically, stretching up like an unfolding paper lantern.

As a paper engineer, Shlian has designed storefront art for Levi’s and murals for Facebook. He’s partnered with Ghostly International, a gallery and store that combines music, technology, design, and visuals into one online platform. At C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor he constructed Unlean Against Our Hearts, a Tyvek half-torus shape which he calls “a paper slinky,” the circles of its two ends resting on perpetually rotating plexiglass turntables. At the University of Michigan, he collaborated with molecular scientists who study cellular membranes and with a team of engineers who are working to create more flexible solar cells. He’s given a Ted Talk and appeared on Sesame Street when the word for the day was “sculpture.” Last year he got an email from a girl who was getting a custom-built prosthetic leg from Bespoke Innovation. She asked if he could design something that would decorate the fitting that covers her peg and he sent on a tessellated design that fits around the prosthetic shin like a silver cuff.

For the most part, his sculptural works are constructed from white or black archival paper and they sometimes exist as free forms like Eight Emperors Bloom, his crisp, contemporary variant of a paper flower, which you can hold in your hands, or can been viewed hanging inches off a wall in pleated relief form. You can see the influence of Islamic design in his complex geometric folds: conglomerates of diamonds, triangles, or even curved shapes which can amass into starbursts. More recently, he’s experimented with what look like waves, slopes, and draping shapes, exploring the capabilities and limitations for stretching and rotating his material, always motivated by the desire to find out what the work of his hands will look like in the end.

Last January, he had a solo show at Florida Gulf Coast University, in Fort Myers, Florida that included a long, horizontal piece, Ara 117 (36 by 72 by 2 inches), which appears like the paper translation of a white-on-white quilt with a pinwheel center, light and shadow playing on the faceted geometric pieces. Because Shlian’s curiosity has taken him farther afield, as he puts it, “into the cracks between art and other disciplines,” the work is also about perception—how the eyes see structural organization in patterns even when there are deviations and irregularities. If you let your glance roam across the surface, you’ll see unexpected asymmetries everywhere.

Shlian is interested the way mistakes can lead in all directions and in the way the brain anticipates repetitions and understands mirroring. In a variant constructed from silver foil but similarly designed around a wheel-like center, he continues to probe the basic functions of light, form, shadow, and curves while the creases and folds look like the craftsmanship of a diamond cutter. One of the finest pieces in the show, Ara 211, stretches into the form of two open fans, one facing up and one facing down, with intricate pleats, stars, cross shapes, and fans within the fans. The work is virtuosic, standing as an homage to the long tradition of paper folding in our material culture, and at the same time it vaults ahead, into the vanguard where science, technology, and the arts combine.