Projection has a long history in the creation and exhibition of art, but "Sarah Sze, Timelapse," which opened recently at New York's Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum, is another thing entirely. In a relatively compact exhibit that covers a couple of the upper levels of the museum's famous spiral walkway, as well as some of the rotunda and museum exterior, dozens of projectors—virtually all from LG Electronics—were employed to create an engaging, moving (both emotionally and physically), and surreal experience for viewers.

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Sze's huge, contemporary installations involve elaborate and hyper-detailed structures created in sometimes erector-set fashion out of anything from toothpicks and dowels to fine-string curtains to metal rods. Found objects and household items familiar to all—say, a step ladder or office stool or a digital clock or extended tape measure—are unapologetically integrated in plain view, sometimes for their own visual contribution, sometimes as support structures for an almost overwhelming trove of objects that delight the eye and make for what could be hours of observation. Step back, and the whole makes a powerful visual statement. Look closer, and you enter into a world of controlled, curated chaos. Martha Schwendener, the New York Times art critic, described the exhibit in her review as "sculpture, video, paintings, photographs, plants and hardware-store supplies stacked, dangled and stretched throughout the museum."

As I saw personally at the exhibit's opening, projectors play a powerful role in bringing Sze's art to life. Virtually all of the works involved some form of projection, typically masked or mapped to often tiny surfaces—for example, dozens of swaths of dangling torn notepaper, each with its own projection of alternating colors or natural scenery—or larger imagery intended for the surrounding wall space. Here and there, a small desk fan might be dropped in to create additional gentle movement of hanging objects.

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Projectors are largely "hidden in plain sight" in Sze's chaotic abstracts created from common household and natural objects.

LG Electronics, the exhibit's technology partner, provided a batallion of projectors in different sizes and brightness ratings that were either cleverly or very obviously dropped into the various works. Among these were the ProBeam BF50NST and BF60PST WUXGA laser projectors at 5,000 and 6,000 lumens, respectively; the HF60LA, a compact, 1080p, 1,400-lumen LED home theater projector; the HU70LA, a 1,500-lumen 4K LED home theater model, and the tiny PF610P, a 1,000-lumen LED portable. Perhaps most remarkable was that many of the projectors had to have their content individually created and controlled by a server to deliver the precisely desired image at precisely the right time.

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Migrating projections, superimposed on the paintings and curated sculptures, wound their way up the exhibition ramp from artwork to artwork.

The larger laser projectors could be easily spotted in many of the installations as they created a literal river of images that moved in horizontal fashion from one artwork to the next, despite the side walls that separated each exhibit space. The image of a flying flock of birds, for example, would start on the right side wall of the first exhibit, slowly progress across the back of the space, climb forward along the left side wall, then transgress to the next exhibit space where another projector would pick up the image for the next installation without a glitch to create a seamless viewing experience.

The smaller projectors were just...everywhere. One of my favorite installations, titled "Things Caused to Happen (Oculus)," showed a globe created from tiny inkjet prints and ever-changing video projections on small swatchs of torn paper suspended in an elaborately constructed scaffolding that was hand-tied together from wooden dowels.

My favorite work, and the exhibit's finale at the top of the ramp, was an older installation reinvented for this new show called "Timekeepers." It was the only installation to have it's own dedicated room—a huge dark space in which large, moving projections migrated along the walls while viewers are drawn toward the back of the room where one of the artist's studio tables is piled high and surrounded by all manner of objects: scraps of paper, shards of mirrored glass, potted plants, clocks reading times from different time zones, computer screens, and multiple flashing lights and projections. I counted about 30 projectors in that one installation alone. The artist describes it as "standing in the middle of a constructed world, similar to being inside a planetarium," and per the signage, the work implores the observer to "feel the tension and confusion between the tactile and digital inherent in the present age."

"Sarah Sze, Timelapse," runs through September 10th at the Guggenheim Museum on New York's Fifth Avenue.


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