We recently spoke with Grimanesa Amorós, an artist who splits her time between New York City and Peru, about a recent gallery installation in which she used some of our flexible LED strip lighting. In the installation, titled La Incubadora (2010), she has re-envisioned the Lab Gallery at Roger Smith Hotel in Manhattan as a warm human incubator for her sculptures of imagined hybrid humans.
Did this kind of flexible LED strip lighting suggest how the pieces in La Incubadora would be installed, or did you have a vision of it prior to finding the lights?
“We have often used LED lights in other projects, so we understood the potential and capabilities that are unique to LEDs. We chose your warm white LED strips because they are flexible, low voltage and can be cut to any desired length. The idea was to create futuristic heating elements around each of the figures. It needed to be flexible strips to create a curve around the wombs and to be warm white to simulate heat. Simulated warmth was important because the sculptures are made of wax and hand made abaca pulp from the Philippines, which makes them sensitive to temperature changes.”
You say in a statement about the piece that “the lighting in the space and the music…reinforce[s] the magical quality that many of us feel when confronting the wonders (or monsters?) of modern science.” How do you think the lighting helps to achieve this?
“LEDs are indicative of modernity and more and more everyday devices are incorporating built-in luminance as both a practical and an aesthetic feature. In nature, light predominately comes from the sky, therefore light from below has an eeriness which is indicative of humanity’s abstraction of nature.”
Without asking you to do the interpretation for us, how are the figures related to each other, in your view? Are they isolated? A community? What role does the lighting play in interpreting this piece?
“The humanoids are cooped up like livestock; some huddle for warmth, others try to escape. The round illumination both sustains and ensnares them. They were artificially inseminated so they have no mate outside of this space. They are all bound together under the same forced cohabitation, yet each alone.”
The final installation differs from the renderings, in that there are no silhouettes of the figures on the walls, and throughout there is just the warm white color of the lighting. What created these changes? Were there originally going to be elements of color and projection in the installation?
“I initially knew that I wanted lighting and shadow to play into this piece. I always wanted to have many more figures and the shadows would, in effect, duplicate their appearance. Unfortunately shadows are difficult to maintain in a windowed space with solar exposure, so the final execution was based on reenforcing the concept rather than multiplication of imagery.”
According to her statement, Amorós’ work “often makes use of sculpture, video, lighting and sound to create works that illuminate our notions of personal identity and community.” See more of this fascinating work at www.grimanesaamoros.com