Sarah Meyohas: Cloud of Petals

October 12 – December 10, 2017
Wednesday – Sunday
12pm – 7pm
20171012 12:00:00 20171210 18:00:00 America/New_York Sarah Meyohas: Cloud of Petals Red Bull Studios New York 220 w 18th Street 10011 New York, NY USA

Red Bull Arts New York is pleased to announce 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 data collecting ritual at Eero Saarinen’s Bell Works in Holmdel, New Jersey (formerly Bell Labs). Centered within the dramatic Josef Albers-inspired floor pattern in the atrium—the hallowed ground that gave birth to Information 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 16mm 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.

While the artist gestures toward lingering social commentaries relating to what has been traditionally associated with women’s work versus men’s work, ­the exhibition becomes a site for contemplation about a post-human reality and the future of labor in the face of automation. 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.