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Bowling Green artist Erwin Redl stands under his piece,

Local Artist Installs Illuminated Piece in BGSU’s Moseley Hall

Shadows consists of LED lights affixed to the white brick walls of two stairwells in Moseley Hall. The lights are programmed with approximately 20 distinct patterns, which allows them to randomly cycle through the piece.  Photo by Bowling Green State University Marketing and CommunicationsThere are perks to working close to home, as artist Erwin Redl found out while creating Bowling Green State University’s (BGSU) most recent Percent for Art installation.

“I could come to the installation site on my bicycle, which is my preferred mode of transportation,” said Redl at the Nov. 4 dedication ceremony for his light installation titled “Shadows” in BGSU’s newly renovated Moseley Hall. “Thank you for the honor of choosing me to do a piece here in my hometown.”

Redl, who moved to the United States in 1993 from Austria and now works part of the year in his studio in town, is known for his pieces that use light, media, and computer technologies to enhance site-specific architecture and expand viewer perception. His work has been installed internationally, with recent commissions in Los Angeles; Paris, France; Krems, Austria; and Tazlar, Turkey.

In his remarks at the dedication ceremony, Redl said he is inspired by the way in which parts of a system work together to create an observable outcome. He added that this fascination with how things function from a technical point of view directly influences his art.


“If you look at a tree, it works as an enormously complex system. How the leaves move, how each leaf influences each other, how the tree influences the leaves, and vice versa,” he said. “It is an extremely complex, quasi-random system, and that is what interests me.”


With “Shadows,” a system is created through the programming of individual LED lights arranged on the white brick walls of two Moseley Hall stairwells. Redl said the precise placement of the lights along the grid of bricks speaks to his clean aesthetic and opens the piece up to a broader study of tempo and pattern.


“This system is just light, objects, and shadows,” Redl said as the rows of lights softly illuminated the semi-circular room behind him. “The stairwell is static; it’s a brick wall. But the brick wall is the rhythmic meter or the pulse of the room. My shadows play the melody or the harmonic structure—the harmonic changes on top of that pulse.”

 

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Approximately 20 distinct lighting patterns programmed to randomly cycle through the piece ensure that “Shadows” will look different almost every time one encounters it.

“There are two types of sequences,” Redl said. “One is more overall, like large-scale patterns. They are like waves that waft through the perimeter of the space. Sometimes, they will go in sync in one direction or sometimes they will go in opposite directions. They emphasize the whole space through contrast of different elements of the architectural structure.”


The other type of sequence is slower, focusing on shadow movements against the wall and how these change based on other factors such as the time of day or natural light filtering through the windows. A random shuffling of sequences determines how one pattern flows into another, making it impossible for even Redl to predict what’s next.


“It was very funny because at one point, my technicians were here and they reported back that things had suddenly stopped. But then they realized that it stopped on purpose because it was the transition from the fast wave movements to just the shadow movement,” Redl said. “There is this moment where it seems that everything stops, but that’s the point. I want to stop people in their tracks so they can be perceptive to the other changes in the work, which is just in the shadows.”


Shadows is housed in Moseley Hall, which was recently renovated to incorporate state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms for the departments of biology, chemistry, geology, and medical lab science.  Photo by Bowling Green State University Marketing and CommunicationsRedl’s use of computer coding and other technological elements made his work a great fit for a building that houses state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms where students learn about biology, chemistry, geology, and medical lab science, said BGSU Provost Dr. Joe Whitehead. There’s a proven link between art and science, he added, an idea that’s supported each time the lights of “Shadows” cast their glow on the stairway.


“There is a really great connection between the sciences, engineering, and mathematics with art. When you look at something like the golden ratio, it has been used throughout history to create very appealing structural entities. Or when you think about music, you often think about the mathematical aspects of music,” he said. “When you think about light and how we use light, different colors are used to create different effects. This installation is a great opportunity to bring together STEAM—STEM with art.”


“Shadows” is the most recent Percent for Art installation to be completed on BGSU’s campus and Redl’s third piece commissioned through the Ohio Percent for Art Program. Established in 1990 by the Ohio Legislature, the program fosters arts and culture and encourages the development of Ohio’s artists and craftspeople by providing funds for works of art for new or renovated public buildings with appropriations of more than $4 million. Since the legislation went into effect, more than 200 Percent for Art projects have been installed across the state.


Learn more about the Ohio Percent for Art Program at
oac.ohio.gov/OhioPercentForArtProjects.


To view more of Redl’s work, visit his website at
paramedia.net.


ABOUT THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at oac.ohio.gov.

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Article by Amanda Etchison, Communications Strategist
Featured photo: Bowling Green artist Erwin Redl stands under his piece, "Shadows," installed in Bowling Green State University's Moseley Hall through the Ohio Percent for Art program. Photo by Bowling Green State University Marketing and Communications.



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