From the May/Jun Bowest’ner

Interview and article by Sophie Stocking


James Zeigler is this spring’s featured Artistic Resident as part of the BCA A.R.T.S. (Artistic Resident Talent Share) program. I had the opportunity to drop into the home basement studio of James Ziegler where he’s creating an interactive, sculptural art installation called “Traces”. The sculptures themselves are cut out of thin stainless steel and hang from the ceiling by wires, turning and reflecting light onto screens and walls. Different projected lights and soundscapes interplay and create an ever changing display.

How did the idea for “Traces” come about?

“Originally the sculptures were very small and hanging in my windows. They were metal copies of my Ziegler-Tiny-Art paper cut-outs. I noticed how they reflected sunlight and created beautiful shadows on the walls. I started to think of them as instruments that paint the walls with art. I’ve programmed my computer to turn different lights on and off in a sequence. The more lights I have on, the more the projections grow in complexity.” James switches off the ceiling lights, and then turns on a few spotlights that cause the moving metal sculptures to shine and project shadows and light reflections onto the screens that enclose the space.

It’s beautiful and so relaxing! It reminds me of light moving through water, or maybe the Northern Lights. Are people supposed to interact with this somehow?

“Yes! There are two ways of interacting. People can touch the sculptures and move them, or just watch how air currents do it. There will also be pieces that can be picked up and played with. Visitors can experiment with the reflections they can create. With the Artist in Residence program, I’ll be bringing the installation to the BCA where we’ll do two one day workshops.

We’ll start out using my Ziegler Tiny Art paper cut-outs, and people can use the light from their phones to start experimenting with shadows. Then we’ll hang up the big sculptures and experiment with them. It’ll happen over a weekend, and on Saturday evening we’ll open the space to the public. It will help me to see what people gravitate to and how they interact with it. The BCA is letting me use the big hall for a demonstration day, so it will be interesting to work in that huge space.”

Is this about anything philosophical for you?

Absolutely. It’s called Traces of Consciousness and it’s about my fascination with the abstract marks of artists over time. I’m thinking of Kandinsky and abstract expressionists, or even earlier painters like Rembrandt, his rough sketches, just blobs of paint and dabblings of ink on the page. It also has echoes of quantum mechanics and physics!

It reminds me of microscopic images of neurons in the brain. I just like sitting here and watching it. It’s so relaxing.

It is, isn’t it? I’m interested in taking it out into the larger world and doing pop up installations, say in a parking garage, or under a bridge.

Thanks so much James, I look forward to the workshop!


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