The two artists who met in the MFA Painting program at Yale joined as Blinn & Lambert in 2016 to collaboratively expand their interests in optical media, special effects, digital projection, and computer animation – the latter of which is reflected in their name, which references two basic material surface options in a 3D animation software: reflective (Blinn) and matte (Lambert).
The works in “New Grey Planet” are situated within a loose fictional narrative concerning a space station orbiting a newly discovered planet with two suns – one red, one blue – and the recreation room in which free-floating objects “from home” can be found. Through this scenario – which draws inspiration from among others the story of Pygmalion, Dutch still life paintings, Balthus’ “The Mountain” (1937), and most overtly Stanisław Lem’s book “Solaris” – the artists challenge our relationships to objects: Is it possible to separate our perception of an object from the memories and meanings they evoke? And, how do they resist such attribution or otherwise communicate with us?
In new sculptures, familiar objects of varying transparency and reflective qualities are illuminated by two projected streams of light – one red, one blue – which cast shadows on the gallery walls or “screen” behind them to form a floating 3D imagery viewable with anaglyph cyan/red glasses. Each work instigates a dialog among the real objects, their shadows, and their virtual translations.
Some of these objects such as a milk glass vase, a tennis racket, a rubber ball also appear in the videos “New Grey Planet: Chapter 1” (HD single-channel video, 2016, 8 minutes 6 seconds) and “New Grey Planet: Library” (HD single-channel video, 2017, 11 minutes). In the video footage the objects appear against black backgrounds floating or traversing space. The artists’ use of extreme lighting, rotating cameras, and radical shooting trajectories confuses the viewers senses. In both appearance and motion it is unclear whether one is looking at an actual object or a CGI rendering.
“Doe, a Deer” (HD single-channel stereoscopic 3D video, 2017, 4 minutes) is a dreamlike video of the activities taking place around a flowing stream in a forest and is based upon a misremembering of texts by Austrian poet Georg Trakl. In this piece, the red and blue color channels have been completely separated so that each eye receives a separate image, while the green functions as common background: as a result, the viewer struggles to recompose the full picture, mimicking the process of recollection.
Ultimately, in “New Grey Planet”, Blinn & Lambert strives to allow the viewer to see and consider the familiar in new ways, through “a kind of cinematic re-imaging of the distance that exists between us and our things” and to become aware of how our memories and expectations intrude upon and alter our perceptions.
“Blinn & Lambert: New Grey Planet” opens on December 15, 2017 and runs through January 14, 2018, with an Opening Reception on Friday December 15, 6-9pm. Gallery hours: Thursday-Monday, or by appointment.
Blinn & Lambert is the collaborative pseudonym of Nicholas Steindorf and Kyle Williams. They work in digital animation, video, sculpture, and practical special effects. Steindorf and Williams met while attending Yale’s MFA program in Painting, and live and work in Brooklyn and Queens, New York. Blinn & Lambert has recently screened work at Icebox Projects in Philadelphia and at Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn. Nicholas Steindorf (b. 1987) holds a BFA from Columbia College Chicago and an MFA in painting from Yale University (2014). Kyle Williams (b.1982) holds a BA from Stanford University in Art History and an MFA in painting from Yale University (2015). Steindorf and Williams both live and work in Brooklyn, NY.