Michael Salistorfer- ‘Clouds'
I have a fascination with art that makes you look up, art that hovers overhead.
Loom is a more appropriate word for this installation than hover, however, as it’s black, oppressive, knotted shape hangs above your head, with no suggestion as to how it's stuck up there. Salistorfer is certainly not trying to make his audience feel at ease.
The work is stuck in it’s own knots and in it’s place. It seems as if the work would slowly squeeze out of the space, attempting to spread further throughout the room if it weren’t so firmly stuck down. In contrast, literal clouds move and transform their entire short existence, just as living creatures do. The only way this sculpture is going to move is through direct interference. The texture and materiality of the work suggests no susceptibility to decay. This work is unmoving and unchanging, possibly outliving its own creators.
The texture of real clouds makes it seem as if you could walk straight through them, they carry no solidity and have no singular uniform shape. Again this is contrary to the work as each ring is the same as the last, only varying the ways in which the shapes interact with one another.
There is also a contrast within the work itself. The dark, black, opaque texture and colour contradicts the round shape of the work. Darkness is suggestive of danger and fear, whereas rounder shapes tend to make us feel safer. In ScienceFocus’ 2017 article ‘Why do we Find Circles so Beautiful?’ Manuel Lima explains;
“ we prefer shapes and objects that evoke safety and are not so fond of objects with sharp angles and pointed features, as they suggest threat and injury: think of the thorns and spines of a plant, the sharp teeth of an animal, or the cutting edge of a rock. (...) As the ultimate curvilinear shape, the circle embodies all of the attributes that attract us: it is a safe, gentle, pleasant, graceful, dreamy, and even beautiful shape that evokes calmness, peacefulness, and relaxation.”
This contrast creates a whole new feeling; unease. It seems both manmade and outside of human control, making it feel unsafe, particularly when stood directly underneath it.
Essentially this work exists to me as a contradiction. The impact of its presence is clear. This work is a fantastic example of a work being simultaneously terrifying and fascinating. One can imagine spending large chunks of time under the work, exploring its features and potential meaning, whilst the whole time feeling unease, knowing the feeling is worth it.
photo credit: Queensland Art Gallery