Each Sides Now by Studio fnt — BP&O
Words from Richard Baird
Both Sides Now, a title borrowed from Joni Mitchell's famous song, is a solo exhibition of the work of Argentine contemporary artist Leandro Erlich, which took place at the Seoul Museum of Art between December 2019 and March 2020. Erlich's installations, which are often recognized internationally, reflect, reflective surfaces, water and other various materials create optical illusions to transform familiar everyday spaces such as elevators, stairs or swimming pools.
The South Korean designer studio fnt worked to create a visual identity for the exhibition that connects a variety of surfaces, from super graphics to programs and posters to banners and digital displays, by referring to one of the artist's works to recurring ideas and to convey suggestions and motifs that can be found in Erlich's work.
Structure, holographic film and distorted typographic elements are interwoven to express the transience and subversiveness of a reflection or shadow, as well as the blurred boundaries between the material objects that make up our subjective experience.
Asanyeo's legend captures the dissonance between perception and reality. After seeing a vision of a reflected pagoda in a nearby pond – the pagoda that her stonemason husband had left to make money for her – she saw this as a sign of completion and a signal that her husband would soon return would. When he didn't, she tragically drowned herself in sadness. Of course, the reflection in the pond was nothing more than a version of a reality that Asanyeo misunderstood. The husband returned to hear of his wife's untimely death.
With his works, Erlich suggests that there is nothing in this world whose essence or nature is unchangeable, that everything in our world is interconnected and that its boundaries are anything but clear. Just as shadows change according to their light source, the world that we perceive and those that we see as “others” exist as shadows that are created from our own subjective understanding.
Erlich's work Shadow of the Pagoda (above), inspired by the legend of the Shadowless Pagoda, provides the source of inspiration for the visual identity of the exhibition. This work examines reflection and shadow as being unable to fully replicate the reality of the object. This is materialized by a replica of the pagoda. Its temporary interpretation is created by a wavy basin and a mirrored structure of the pagoda directly below the surface.
It is difficult to grasp the subject of a subjective and temporary reality in a static form and across the solid surfaces and contexts in which an exhibition identity must exist. However, Studio fnt uses the inherently graphic form of the Shadowless Pagoda as a fixed focus to attract attention and to play with the perception and themes that are central to the artist's work. On all postcards and in the texts that are applied to the exhibition space, a holographic film reacts with its changing colors to a dynamic lighting situation and a mirrored surface that changes when a viewer moves in front of it and the surroundings and the viewer as part folds in a temporary reality.
Where a holographic film is unaffordable, corrugated art, organic waves, highlights and the hint of shadows as well as an allusion to a partially submerged structure capture the essence of the artwork and the themes of the exhibition.
Bright colors and full black fillings are immediate and create continuity across different contexts and draw attention to informative details, but also to textures and microfoils. The duality of colors and the reflective elements of visual identity also go well with the exhibition title Both Side Now. In addition, there are some really nice close-ups that help bring to life the idea of undefined boundaries between elements. These work well to make the graphic elements interesting when there is no reflective film. More work from Studio fnt on BP & O.
Design: Studio fnt. Opinion: Richard Baird.
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