In 1859, Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote about the stereoscope for The Atlantic Monthly:
|Form is henceforth divorced from matter. In fact, matter as a visible object is of no great use any longer, except as the mould on which form is shaped. Give us a few negatives of a thing worth seeing, taken from different points of view, and that is all we want of it.
Holmes’ article and the stereographs in the Mount Holyoke Prospect House Collection at Historic Northampton both emerged at the height of stereography’s ubiquity in the second half of the 19th century. The stereograph images in this collection intrigued me with their focus on the natural textures and landscape surrounding the Pioneer Valley. My art practice is grounded in the exploration of hard and soft raw materials from which I create invented geological formations and topography. Holmes’ passionate and poetic writing on stereography captured my imagination, and provoked my notions of form and matter.
In response, Behold Binocular oscillates between past and present, form and illusion. The works presented in the show address perception and attention through three anachronistic lenses. The first is stereoscopy, the technology that subsequently produced the images in the Prospect House Collection. The word stereoscopy derives from Greek στερεός (stereos), meaning "firm, solid", and σκοπέω (skopeō), meaning "to look, to see." Through a stereoscope identical paired images fuse together producing an illusion of space and form. Today the twin images of stereographs function more as commodities of history, and artifacts of the past, their technology antiquated by subsequent spectacles of virtual reality. New dimensions of technological advancement are seen through a second lens, where the multiplicity of three-dimensional printing is projected onto our future horizon. As stereography revolutionized image viewing in the 19th century, digital fabrication is monumentally shifting the production of image and form in the 21st century. Couched by past and future, the third lens magnifies sculptural forms crafted in the present.
Behold Binocular is an experimental exhibition, representing my negotiations between disparate moments in time, and what it means to create. I invite you to construct your own meanings.
Ariel Rosenblum is a sculptor whose work explores process as product and perception through traditional textile handcraft techniques including weaving, felting, and embroidery. She holds her BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Fine Arts 3D: Fibers and Art Education. She is currently pursuing her MA in Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City.
Behold Binocular is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 am to 5 pm and Sundays from 12 noon to 5 pm.
Image: Wait/Weight, 2013 by Ariel Rosenblum
Medium: Felted wool, silk, resin, 6.25 lbs. metal weights, brick