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sarah oppenheimer calls for viewers to touch and reshape this 'sensitive machine'

a sensitive machine in motion


for sarah oppenheimer, the element of touch is not just permissible, but key to the experience of her ‘sensitive machine.’ the wellin museum of art at hamilton college presents the exhibition sarah oppenheimer: sensitive machine, a new sculptural work that calls on viewers to collaboratively realign and reconfigure the museum’s dietrich exhibition gallery. visitors touch and turn four hollow beams, setting in motion a relay of spatial cause and effect. columns split and slide, creating new sightlines, while light fixtures rise and fall, shifting the radiance of the gallery.


sarah oppenheimer: sensitive machine will show at the wellin museum in clinton, new york from september 4 through december 5, 2021.

sarah oppenheimer calls for viewers to touch and reshape this 'sensitive machine'sarah oppenheimer: sensitive machine at the wellin museum of art at hamilton college

images by john bentham | videos by andrew ina



reshaping space


with sarah oppenheimer: sensitive machine, the long island city-based artist conceptually explores how our actions — both individually and communally — shape the spaces we inhabit and how those spaces embody a constant state of flux. the work mobilizes group dynamics and engages the joy of improvised learning, bringing awareness to the collaborative experience of inhabited architecture.


the exhibition is curated by tracy l. adler, the johnson-pote director of the wellin museum of art, and comprises four newly designed ‘instruments’ that build on oppenheimer’s recent exhibitions at kunstmuseum thun, switzerland; and carnegie mellon university, pittsburgh.





shifting volumes, fluctuating light


created specifically for the wellin museum’s open-plan exhibition space, each of the four instruments is linked to existing lighting tracks and subdividing walls. as visitors manually activate these instruments, a choreography of spatial change is set in motion. lighting tracks slip between the vertical surfaces of sliding walls — luminosity levels fluctuate while sightlines are interrupted and revealed.


the instruments are often interconnected, turning the input of one alters the configuration of another. the resulting spatial overlap blurs the boundaries between instruments such that they are no longer discrete. gradually, visitors become aware of the dynamic changes enacted and learn their component rhythms. sensitive machine forms a complex spatial network activated by the collaborative gestures of engaged viewers.

sarah oppenheimer calls for viewers to touch and reshape this 'sensitive machine'

sarah oppenheimer calls for viewers to touch and reshape this 'sensitive machine'



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