The art that explains the models of the universe

29 Jun 2020

The art that explains the models of the universe

The multidisciplinary artist who explores science, art and human perception.

The common thread that unites all the works of Tauba Auerbach is a propensity to draw patterns in the universe, as happens in the shapes of the waves, in printing, in music or over time. In identifying these elusive rhythms, he created a set of works that are placed on the margins of perception and, more deeply, of consciousness.

A set of works that are placed on the margins of perception and, more deeply, of consciousness.

To do this, Tauba maintains that curiosity and open-mindedness characteristic of his home city, San Francisco. An example that represents it is the work created for the commemoration of the hundred years of an art form, if we can call it that, very unusual.

In 2018, his first major public art project was commissioned by the New York City Public Art Fund and the 14-18 NOW cultural program in London to design a Dazzle motif, a form of naval camouflage that was widely used in the first war world.

USS Leviathan escorted by USS Allen in a 1918 Burnell Poole painting

Invented by the British painter Norman Wilkinson, this technique consisted of decorative motifs designed to create optical illusions, to make it almost impossible to detect the exact distance, direction or speed of the ships on which they were applied.

The Dazzle Motif designed by Tauba Auerbach was titled ‘Flow Separation’ and was based on water itself, translating the laws of fluid dynamics into fantastic patterns.

Photo: Lance Brewer, by taubaauerbach.com

In science, “flow separation” refers to a phenomenon whereby a moving body will cause the surrounding area to move backwards. A common example can be seen in the wake of a ship, which often creates whirlpools.

Photo: Lance Brewer, by taubaauerbach.com

Tauba Auerbach was able to recreate this concept through paper marbling, a process that involves floating ink stains on a tray of water and combing the surface to create patterns. In practice, he used flow separation as a drawing tool.

Painting, sculpture, photography, printing and more, Tauba Auerbach’s conceptual work tests the hidden logic of the world around us, from the abstract principles of mathematics and science to language, design and craftsmanship. It questions the boundaries of these systems, discovers their limits and bends them to expose and represent their poetic potentials.