RVW | Lattice~Face Parameter Chant


A new fractal installation by Brenna Murphy '09 melds the technical with the mystical.

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Installation view of “Lattice~Face Parameter Chant,” 2013, by Brenna Murphy ’09. Photo by Alyssa Kail, MFA AC+D ’14.


Lattice~Face Parameter Chant

By Alyssa Kail, MFA AC+D ’14

Chants can be both auditory as well as visual, and in Brenna Murphy’s (’09) site specific installation Lattice~Face Parameter Chant, one can see the rhythmic syncopation and layering of components that come together to create this unified work. Much in the way fractals are composed of building blocks of the same shape, growing in repeating pattern ad infinitum, the more one walks around Murphy’s installation, the more the individual parts reveal themselves. Taking time to really look at this installation from many different angles allows the repetitive patterns to emerge from what at first appears to be indiscernible, otherworldly, or unknown.

The layout of the sculptural work in the center of Upfor Gallery suggests a kind of landscape or mapping of a futuristic archaeological site. Scale is constantly in flux, from the tiny grains of sand to the perceived perspective of a model that might represent hundreds of miles, all of which prevents the viewer from resolving where or what they are in relation to the work. The perimeter or border of the landscape is comprised of both neatly edged sand and laser cut wood. The sand blends from one color to the next, moving from white into a lustrous black that plays nicely with the dark, waxed steel floors of the gallery. Though the laser cut wood pieces are cut in the same patterns as the upright, more 3D pieces, when they are presented on their sides, they give the impression of a kind of coded writing or of potential lateral growth, like the edges of a puzzle piece. 

Murphy’s interest as a sound artist comes through the work as well, even though there is no auditory component in this piece.  According to Gallery Manager Heather Birdsong ’11, the artist brought in all of the elements and parts, pre-cut and ready to assemble, yet with no preconceived notion for the final look.  Over the course of four days, Murphy walked around the space, moving and placing parts, all while listening to chanting music. At the moment when Murphy felt a particular vibration with a piece, that’s where she placed it; it was a very intuitive process. Those vibrations can be sensed in the natural order or seemingly formulaic flow of the installation.  

Though the install process is very intuitive, the process through which each of the building blocks was created was very calculated, utilizing the latest technologies of laser cut wood panels and 3D printed acrylic. Murphy doesn’t rest on the comforts of machine processed materials though; she pushes these technologies to their very limits by cutting the wood so thin in places that it becomes very delicate and fragile, and by scaling down the 3D printing to the point of demanding a high amount of detail and filagree at or beyond the machine’s potential.  

While the viewer may not be able to fully comprehend just what they are looking at, or crack the code, so to speak, there appears to a recognizable system of growth and decay, of building and layering that just makes sense. I can understand nature, because it follows these rules. Additionally, the lighting of the space adds an inviting warmth and sense of atmosphere or sky that is reflected by and therefore connected to the mirrored panels on the floor. Overall, the artist successfully engages the universe in visual rhythms and communicates a complementary relationship between the mystic spirituality of forces greater than ourselves and a technological means of production.

Lattice~Face Parameter Chant, by Brenna Murphy ’09 is on view at Upfor Gallery in Portland, OR, through November 1, 2013.

by Alyssa Kail, MFA AC+D '14
ALYSSA KAIL, MFA AC+D '14 is a candidate in the joint MFA in Applied Craft and Design Program at Pacific Northwest College of Art and Oregon College of Art and Craft.

— Posted on 11/02 at 06:21 AM

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