as the third participant in A/D/O’s designer in residence program, studio swine has been using the exploratory, collaborative creative space in brooklyn, new york to investigate the invisible elements that shape our environment. after six months of research, the studio – japanese architect azusa murakami and british artist alexander groves – harness nature to debut two new pieces within the exhibition wave.particle.duplex. at A/D/O. visitors initially gaze upon ‘dawn particles’ which are formed from constellations of hand-blown, glass vessels that contain krypton as bursting, magnetized plasma. afterwards, they are immersed within a yellow interior and surrounded by the hazy ‘fog paintings’, which reference the likeness of the sun passing through clouds.
during the exhibition, designboom spoke to studio swine to learn more about the benefits of their residency at A/D/O, their latest exploration of materiality, and the creations on show at wave.particle.duplex.
all images courtesy of A/D/O
designboom (DB): how were you approached for this residency at A/D/O and why did you decide to take it?
studio swine (SS): we visited A/D/O in 2017 and were taken on a tour of the place. it struck us as something really exciting and a unique space, which felt very open to both innovation and to making connections across different disciplines. since starting studio swine, we have lived and worked in sao paulo, shanghai and paris. we love to get out of our comfort zone so when we were invited to do a residency at A/D/O, we were excited by the possibility to engage with new york and really create a new body of work.
DB: as a creative hub by MINI, what benefits and opportunities have A/D/O and the designer in residence program itself offered?
SS: the facilities were really useful in prototyping up the works so things moved from idea to objects quite quickly. we were able to have a space where we had different specialists from new york come in and work with us, such as glass blowers, computer programers, engineers etc. the talks program and other cultural activities at the space also create an atmosphere where thoughtful innovation seems in the DNA of A/D/O, which is infectious.
DB: can you talk about the ‘dawn particles’ series, and the materials you worked with for this?
SS: the ‘dawn particles’ series are light works using plasma, which we have been working on for the past six months. plasma is the fourth element, after solid, liquid, and gas. it’s one of the most abundant materials in the universe. we have used a gas called krypton, housed it within glass forms, and put a charge through it to achieve a sort of sizzling effect. we programed them individually, and worked with a glass artist to hand-blow these pieces as well. as we started to put different voltages through them, it makes different effects where they are even responsive to the electromagnetism that each person has.
DB: what kinds of tests did you make before arriving at this result?
SS: there are lots of different gasses that you can play with, but we started experimenting with krypton. we put an electric charge through it, from one end of the glass tube to the other, but because it is quite experimental, until you make it and gas it and test it, you don’t know what kind of effect you’ll get exactly. we’ve been going through a lot of research and development for the past six months at A/D/O. there’s quite a lot of things that you can vary: the level of voltage that you can pass through; the temperature of the room; the different programs that you can put into it. to achieve this affect, we have been testing many different variants with these particular elements.
DB: being in new york throughout this making process, did the city inspire your creative thinking?
SS: new york was definitely an inspiration. we have never done work of this nature before, but we knew that we wanted to create a very immersive experience — that is why we have created an exhibition that has two different rooms: one is very intense and quite uneasy, and when you go through to the other space, it’s more serene and calm and there is a feeling of being immersed in sunlight.
DB: can you talk about the other room, and your ‘fog paintings’ that sit within it?
SS: the second room aims to explore the duality of light, where we have two ‘fog paintings’ that we have created. there is a really complex robotic machine behind it, which is moving a light source through different colored gels and fog. it is like a CNC arm beaming a white light through these colored gels in the middle, before passing the fog in the front. they are always changing and in a constant flux, so each time you come back to it, it is a different effect. at the same time, there is a futuristic sound that is emitted — it is actually the sound of the machine.
DB: what kinds of materials do you enjoy working with the most?
SS: we are interested in ephemeral, tangible materiality. this includes exploring how technology can not just exist on screens and projections, but actually something that has a fragility and ephemerality to it – we call it ‘ephemeral tech’. it is like looking at a future where you won’t be able to distinguish between natural and artificial.
portrait of azusa murakami and alexander groves, founders of studio swine
DB: what is the experience you want viewers to take away from their encounter with your work at A/D/O?
SS: ideally a range of different feelings as they go through, but mainly something quite primordial, like how the standing stones of stonehenge were a technology for pagans to track the movement of the sun. our work is no different from that really. it is just an exploration of the sun and the really primal relationship we have with that. as something that doesn’t usually have materiality, we wanted to take light and give a volume and materiality to it.
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