Week 5: Turbulent Landscapes

“Turbulent Landscapes: The Natural Forces That See Our World” featuring Kahn and Jim Crutchfield, is a collaboration of thirty projects that are based off natural elements. Kahn is a designer and curator of the project while Jim is a scientific advisor who specializes in physics. Both men are dynamics system scientists who’s goals coincide with human-pattern finding. They explore questions that reflect on universal patterns yet to be found. Kahn and Jim both attempt to join forces between an artist and scientist in order to create this collaboration of projects. They attempt to reach a level of ambiguity that will not seem structureless, yet not too straightforward as to it not being engaging. Kahn, who exclaims buddhism as part of his inspiration, appreciates the present and the change that occurs in nature. One of the examples he uses is how he observes the waves in the water as it flows along with its collapse in finding patterns within nature. Some questions asked about the physical world include how we can exhibit the physical world in patterns? How do patterns reach the level of ambiguity strived for by artists? Below I will go over some of his projects that invoke these ideas, as I feel Kahn covered a lot of ground concerning those questions.

Kahn uses every aspect of nature whether it be fire, water, wind, light, fog, or sand. In his project “Mirror Array,” he made a large panel of tilted mirrors and placed the panel on the bank of the ocean. This was so people could see the waves reflect ocean surfaces in a unique way. Through the pattern of panels, we were able to observe the reflection of the water’s surface.

In “Cloud Portal,” Kahn stacks sheets of stainless steel which is designed with a hole in the middle. Through alternating mist, viewers can see a “portal” which blocks the city from being viewed. Through this project, he forces us to observe nature (fog) through a different medium.

In “Fluvial Storm,” Kahn creates swirling sand manipulated by water inside of a large glass vessel. The water can flow in both directions and can start or stop in different intervals. The patterns made in the sand are Kahn’s way of putting nature in front of us, despite this frequently happening at the bottom of our oceans.

Located in the Huntington Botanical Gardens, “Prism Tunnel” is a tunnel that contains outer prisms which reflect light unto the audiences view. It is a manipulation and beautification of light.

In “Firefly”, hinged, polycarbonate panels are placed on the face of a large building. Each of the panels have a magnet which connects with an electrical reed switch. This entire sculpture takes less electrical energy than a seventy-five watt lightbulb and instead serve as wind turbines for feeding energy back into the building. During the day, it seems as if the face of the building reflects waves from the ocean. At night, flickers of light are seen from each panel which at times make it look like small embers. This project is a reflection on the wind and wind formations during different times of day. We may not notice these changes very often in everyday life, but the panels remind us.

In “Rain Oculus,” a 70ft diameter acrylic bowl was built on top of a mall in Singapore. The bowl collects rain and uses recycled water in order to create a whirlpool. The whirlpool is drained at the bottom, which falls 2 stories into a pool below where it then flows through an indoor river. The pumps are turned off and on every few hours so that the whirlpool shape is always different. At peak times, 8000 gallons of water per minute falls through the atrium, and into the pool.

All of these examples reflect on the natural elements that Kahn uses to express his art. He believes we should appreciate the physical world even more now that we are dwelling in the digital.

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