RIVERSIDE PARK - THEME AND RATIONALE
1) THEME : "PATTERNS IN NATURE"
Patterns recognition is a fundamental component of the act of thinking, for understanding, and expressing. “Patterns in Natures” is a double invitation, first to internally look into nature with a curious, scientific and aesthetic approach, and then externally, to powerfully and positively impress and impact the viewer, the park’s many visitors.
Nature is and has always been Man’s main inspiration, as far as rules of natures, textures and mechanisms. Kung fu techniques were inspired by various animals, crane, monkey, and praying mantis. Medieval armors were inspired by the shells of the armadillo and the lobsters. Wheels, water and windmills were built from observing the effects of gravity and flow of fluids and air. Beyond the utilitarian aspects, exploring patterns is believing in unity and in an organic world.
PATTERNS THROUGH SCIENCE
“Evolution is one of the two or three most primarily fascinating subjects in all the sciences,” wrote Stephen Jay Gould. The American evolutionary biologist (1941-2002) defended “punctuated equilibrium,” a theory that evolution consists of morphological stability and rare bursts of evolutionary change. This change pattern illustrates evolution, transformation and, further up, mutation and metamorphosis.
It is a fast transformation specifically leading to a “clear change of state, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal's body structure through cell growth and differentiation, (…) which is usually accompanied by a change of habitat or behavior.” In the Encyclopaedia Britannica, metamorphosis is biologically described as a “striking change of form or structure in an individual after hatching or birth (…). These physical changes as well as those involving growth and differentiation are accompanied by alterations of the organism’s physiology, biochemistry, and behaviour”.
Metamorphosis derives from Greek μεταμόρφωσις, "transformation, transforming",] from μετα- (meta-), "change" and μορφή (morphe), "form". Cosmogony itself comes from the Greek κοσμογονία, mix of κόσμος, "cosmos" and γέγονα, "come into a new state of being”.
PATTERNS THROUGH SYMBOLISM
The D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum, (Dundee, UK), built a patterns related art collection. Sir D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson (1860) was a Scottish pioneer of mathematical biology.
On the symbolic aspect, now, the pattern of metamorphosis offers a wonderful theme and the gift of prompt evolution – and at the very least the faith in the process, that things can change.
In two decades of art making, along my passion for the essence of life itself, I have irresistibly explored the “harmony of the contrast.” Light and shadows. Sharp versus blur. Colors. Textures. The encounter of opposites does create an explosive effect, generating energy and a very convincing lively rendering.
Further into the process, that instant of transformation, especially in the miraculous moment of metamorphosis, holds uncontrollably both the power of that life force and its greatest vulnerability, in this absolute openness.
The cut-out technique I have practiced turns metal into a calligraphy-looking delicate expression, subject to random movement while caressed by the wind. The beautiful (and powerfully poetic) paradox here is that, and this is a universal fact, life itself emerges more from its vulnerability than from its strength.
The form of the bird, relatively symmetrical with wings opened, in a pattern of double explosion, is in itself a very powerful and universal symbol. It represents perspective (from the heights). The messenger connects Heavens to Earth. The Firebird brings light to the darkness and knowledge to the lost ones. The Phoenix returns from its ashes, as a victory of life upon death. The themes are rebirth, resurrection and metamorphosis into a higher state of being, consciousness, enlightenment and much more. The eagle itself, in its realistic nature, seems another universal and timeless choice in the design of flags.
The metal itself, used for the project, proves that even this hard, heavy and compact material can be animated with that spark of life and go through a multiple metamorphosis. Calder mobiles already offered such message. The structural metal works of Alice Aycock does it to, especially in her recent “Paper Chase” display on Park Avenue.
Here we want to push this concept further at every level into the natural aspect and its organic metamorphosis; motion and transformation – the meteorite that hits the atmosphere, with the process of shedding and melting.
Back to the Riverside Park theme of PATTERNS IN NATURE, metamorphosis is only the main one as our design offers a complex looking mix of other ones: We also display the patterns of explosions, arrays and stripes, concentric lines going apart around the center, or simply rays of light, or laser. Now, if waves are disturbances that carry energy as they move, the metal here curves into pattern of Waves, or Crescents, into very long straight lines, and longitudinal Seif ('sword') shapes. Last but not least, again, the mirror symmetry pattern is obvious, in the shape of the bird as well as the effect of a wake behind it, in the supporting structure.
The installation “Bride Fight” by artist E.V. Day struck me as well. It was a suspended moment in an explosion, in the fictional combat between two agitated bridal gowns, suspended flying pearls, etc. She challenges conventional feminine stereotypes through exploding women’s garments.
2) SITE DISCOVERY
• THE SITE is a triangular large relatively flat zone. Two of the sides are walkways. Path one, under the bridge, is mainly used by runners and bicycles riders. The other, a beautiful green path along the river, path two, is reserved to the pedestrians.
• THE SCULPTURE needs to be successfully viewable from all angles, thus it needs to be as big as possible, and at the right height.
- From path one (bikes) will appear the silhouette of the abstract bird in a clair-obscure effect (and defined graphic patterns) due to the shadow cast by the bridge.
- From path two (walk), the shapes and textures will be clear and bright, especially in winter when there are about no leaves and maybe a carpet of snow.
• THE BASE. To be grounded, the sculpture needs to emerge from the existing raw block of concrete, located at 17 feet from the riverside walk way.
• THE VIEW. From the base, the view is absolutely wonderful, presenting and open blue zone of water and sky, stretched horizontally by the landscape of New Jersey. On the left, one can see the rusty construction element and, on the right, the long and elegant pier.
3) ART & SITE
PERSONAL INTEREST IN PATTERNS
I chose to title my sculpture “Metamorphosis”… as it is the most palpable, spectacular, and wonderful phenomenon our perception can detect. The miracle of a birth, when an amphibian fetus starts breathing, a young horse gets on its feet, or a butterfly breaks out from the chrysalis. Other patterns appear in my work, the explosion, especially. My first main scientific thrilling observation was to see a star in an apple cut horizontally.
Looking for patterns is to look at the world as a unified system, maybe organism, ruled by rational and universal laws and mechanisms. What can be explained and proven is called science, while what can’t is defined as magic, spirituality or new age.
The technique I use of taking a rectangular flat sheet of metal and a piece of chalk, to draw on it, cut it and allow a complex 3D form to emerge echoes this holistic approach. Transformation is my passion and purpose. Metamorphosis just has this extra touch of bewilderment. Art making provides me with this thrill, of constantly learn, explore and set myself up for new challenges and discoveries.
Another essential aspect I have started to explore, through 15 years of art making, is that “je ne sais quoi” that seems to appear randomly. The scientific term is Process Structuralism, and addresses the mysterious, unique and unexplainable patterns of fingerprints or zebra stripes, for instance. The cut-out work I have been developing holds an aspect of this as well, while the symmetry distorts itself poetically, forming very specifically unorganized shapes like the wind in a field of wheat. That so called imperfection has appeared through the history as a sign of humanity. In classical architecture, perfect symmetry was considered evil, and in Japan, the Wabi Sabi aesthetic movement celebrates the highest forms of crafts if touched with that slight and controlled imperfection. I aspire to surprise and offer the rough elegance of a surprising mix of curves and spikes, in metal, a material that very rarely evokes the visual lightness and fragility of calligraphy.
CONSTRAINTS AND PARTIAL RESOLUTIONS
Let’s review the experience of the visitor who approaches the sculpture. As the provided Photoshop compositions show, this site is relatively challenging as far as visibility. Firstly, the luxuriant greenery hides it, from both direction of the walkway, three out of four seasons. Secondly, due to the monumental West Side Highway bridge, the location is only illuminated during the afternoons, and this only when the weather allows. Thirdly, the background (on the City side) is not only dark but visually busy.
This set of constraints lead me to the following conclusions: Firstly, on this site, the bigger the better. Secondly, the brighter the better. And thirdly, the closer the better to the walkers’ sinuous path, towards the River.
• SIZE: I am committed to do most of the labor myself and allocate most of the budget for the material.
• SITE: As far as position and proportions, I went with a M2M colleague to take measures on the field. I laid a wide sheet of white plastic on the floor to confront my imagination to the reality of the site, between bench and lamppost. Once satisfied with proportion, we held and photographed the models in situation (see booklet).
• BRIGHTNESS: I have not sorted the illumination aspect yet. The solution Damien Vera used for his M2M installation seems so far the best way. A cooperate and take turns on duty if batteries need to be changed would help. For a one-time effect, and to illustrate the theme of patterns of nature, it would be interesting to use a powerful large spotlight and project the shadow of the sculpture against the bridge (Gotham).
The brightness can also be obtained through textures and colors effects.
In space, Site 7 is precisely between a horizon of Trump buildings and the powerful and mysterious 69th street bridge monument, a glorious ghost monument officially declared a NYC landmark in 2003.
This location is to me an irresistible invitation to express the metamorphosis that is happening, the social, psychological and urban deep transformation.
Creating a piece of artwork for this site is to me expressing this dynamic force that goes with the harmony of the contrasts: past and future, rough and smooth, dark and light, authentic and superficial, decay versus luxury, or Earth versus Heavens… This is another illustration of the universality of semi abstract expression, and a chance to inspire various demographics and a wider audience. This universality has kept me in New York for more than 10 years already.
How to achieve this, the harmony of the contrasts? By confronting rust and gold in one work of art. The eagle is cut out in flat metal. These opposites are the two sides of a same coin.
Practically, the viewers would see the piece match either direction. The ones facing the buildings would see the seamless golden side (brazed bronze and brass). The ones facing the vintage monument would see the back of the creature, with a rusty and more industrial finish (the center piece that will connect the two wings to the stems will display rusty bolts as well). The bench, though, with its smooth minimal landscape design, might be asking for a touch of wood, more inviting than rusty metal…
THE “CAROLINE BERGONZI CREATIVE LABORATORY” IS A UNIQUE ART STUDIO BASED BOTH IN MONACO AND IN GREENWICH VILLAGE, MANHATTAN, DEDICATED TO FINE ARTS, EXPLORATION AND INSPIRATION, THROUGH VARIOUS DISCIPLINES, TECHNIQUES, MATERIALS AND THEMES, FROM PAINTINGS TO METAL SCULPTURE. DBA CREALAB LLC. ADDRESS: 530, LAGUARDIA PLACE, #5, NEW YORK, NY 10012 USA. EMAIL STUDIO@CAROLINEBERGONZI.COM - VM (+1) 212 592 4500.