Bamboo Sphere Breathes Life into Long Island City's Noguchi Museum

By Jaime Prisco on Jan 02, 2015 08:06 PM EST

A computer-controlled breathing sphere is among the non-moving stone giants at the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City. “Breathing Sphere” is a creation by Dutch artist and designer Maria Blaisse, presented to Noguchi by the design researchers at slowLab in Amsterdam. The Dutch designer created the motorized globe of woven bamboo in order to spark "a spatial and formal dialogue" between the piece and the famously serene Noguchi haven, founded by Japanese-American artist and namesake Isamu Noguchi.

Formally named “Arduino,” after the microchip that powers its movement, the breathing sculpture appears like a living creature that is inhabiting the museum. A gossamer thread links the top of the sphere to the tiny motor on the bottom. The pulsing is meant to reveal the potential of the flexible bamboo, the relationship between natural materials and the human body, and the many configurations inherent within the form.

“Arduino” is one of several bamboo structures made by Blaisse. Some are fastened at both ends; others take on a cylindrical form, like a basket or a band. One can be stretched into a donut-shaped spiral, like metal.

The exhibit also features a short film, by filmmaker Jellie Dekker, of dancers with Blaisse’s woven structures. They climb inside or stand beside the podlike structures, bending so the bamboo strips, held together by elastic fasteners, yield. Dancers Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch, Sara Jimenez, and Cynthia Stanley performed with three of Blaisse's sculptures, plucked from the Pratt Manhattan Gallery where they're on display courtesy of slowLab.

“It’s kind of like swimming for the first time,” Jimenez explained to Queens Chronicle after the performance. “It’s this constant texture around you that your body feels intuitively connected with in some way.”

Check out the video of the “Breathing Sphere” down below.

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TagsLong Island City, Noguchi Museum, Maria Blaisse, Breathing Sphere

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