• Diana Puntar

    Date posted: December 19, 2007 Author: jolanta
    Less Than Day, Or Night, my recent sculptural installation at PS1 Contemporary Art Center, continues to explore what I call “homemade futurism.” The piece is inspired by the final Cantos of Dante’s Inferno in which Dante, led by Virgil, enters the freezing central pit of hell. At the end, as the pair climb their way out, Dante believes he is descending and becomes disoriented as they reach the top. Like many of us, he is fundamentally confused about the orientation of the world. I find it comforting to know that this kind of basic uncertainty has been with us for centuries. Image


    Diana Puntar is a Brooklyn-based artist. Her work will be on view at Oliver Kamm from January 10 to February 16.

    Image
    Diana Puntar, Less Than Day, or Night, 2007; mixed media.

    Less Than Day, Or Night, my recent sculptural installation at PS1 Contemporary Art Center, continues to explore what I call “homemade futurism.” The piece is inspired by the final Cantos of Dante’s Inferno in which Dante, led by Virgil, enters the freezing central pit of hell. At the end, as the pair climb their way out, Dante believes he is descending and becomes disoriented as they reach the top. Like many of us, he is fundamentally confused about the orientation of the world. I find it comforting to know that this kind of basic uncertainty has been with us for centuries.

    The installation is comprised of several discrete objects, each a stylized version of a naturally occurring cave formation. I started thinking about caves when the media began to report on Osama Bin Laden’s network of cavernous mountain hideouts in Pakistan, and Saddam Hussein’s “spider hole.” Between the religious conflicts, wars, and recent natural disasters occurring around the world, I’ve been considering my own eventual cave relocation. My new fascination culminated when I learned that several “giant crystal caves” had recently been discovered that resembled Superman’s secret underground home.

    Less Than Day, Or Night consists of two “stalactites” rendered in layers of plywood and suspended from the ceiling. The otherwise smooth forms are interrupted by constructed interiors made from polished aluminum and convex mirrors or carved foam coated in layers of phosphorescent paint and reflective glass beads. The mirror-like aluminum opens up the otherwise opaque forms, producing the illusion of an infinite interior and reflecting light throughout the room to create a disco-cave/techno-landscape. A partly phosphorescent fog made from diamond shaped tiles creeps across the floor, up the wall, and onto the ceiling. Inspired by early computer graphics, the “fog” turns and twists like rising smoke, insinuating geometries and faux-three-dimensionality. The work appears slick and machined, but upon closer inspection, it is clearly idiosyncratic and “handmade.” This misrecognition acts as a foil to the opaqueness of synthetic surfaces.

    With the lights out, the various phosphorescent parts glow in the dark and the space feels cavernous, as the abstract forms and hard-edged diamond tiles appear to float in space. Areas disappear as space is illuminated—reflecting an eerie sci-fi green light onto the chrome surfaces until they eventually fade away.

    From discreet sculptural works to full-scale modular installations, my work examines various imagined frontiers from the living room to outer space. Although I often borrow from design aesthetic, a more personal vocabulary interjects to question individual and class identity. Combinations of real and fake wood demand a dismissal of high and low as categories of quality, while optical disturbances disrupt the familiar. In my sculptures and installations the “natural” world exists only as a cleansed facsimile, vaguely approximating the real. This simulated “outside” alludes to my fear that there is no longer an exteriority to pursue in American culture—we are trapped inside.

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