Company Post

Dev Harlan's Cascading EON SURF

Eon Surf, 2012

Christopher Henry Gallery, Sept-Oct. 2012

Dimensions: 22.5' x 14' x 12'

Foam, Wood, Video Projection

As Dev's second solo exhibition with Christopher Henry Gallery the work continues to build on a visual language rooted in ideal geometries, and a prismatic interplay of light and pattern. The cascading faceted surface carries an implied motion, rolling away from the spectator with meditative ease. This energy potential is given breath by luminescent washes which crash, ebb and flow with internal symmetry.

While best understood directly and perceptually, Dev's work presents an infinitely reproducible formal structure and lucid logic that can be known universally without empirical knowledge. Light and projection become representative of perceptual knowledge by directly invoking temporal optical phenomenon, but a pure idealized form remains intact. It is this interplay that reproduces the sublime conflict in the viewer, who must choose to ride this crest uncertainly and find exhilaration in the balance.

Dev Harlan took the time on a flight to Bangkok this week to tell us a bit about the making of the spectacular Eon Surf, his most recent and also his largest work to date:

At a large 22.5 foot width, this installation took some effort, but was also done somewhat intuitively. The surface was constructed from a plastic sheathed Gator board, on an internal frame which ramped from floor to wall, much like a quarter pipe skate ramp. The individual parts we're CNC cut by SITU Studios in Dumbo for the large scale Y-3 fashion show earlier that fall. As the lead artist on that project I was able to salvage all the parts which otherwise were destined for the landfill.

The installation made use of six projectors, driven from one media PC running TouchDesigner. As in all my work I'm employing 3D mapping which requires virtual camera calibration and additional vertex adjustments on the model of the sculpture. This is all very straightforward in TouchDesigner and I've developed some custom tools specifically to facilitate this. Most importantly however was that this work more than others was subject to spontaneous changes during installation and the corresponding 3D mesh and projector positions needed to be updated in a free form manner. TouchDesigner made this all very easy to deal with, and the show ended up running for nearly three months without a single crash.

We became acquainted with Dev Harlan's work back in March of 2011 with Suffolk Deluxe Electric Bicycle, a collaboration with fellow New York artist Olek. The work consisted of a projection-mapped ordinary road bike which became a kinetic canvas for the continual crocheting, unravelling and re-crocheting of a bicycle and the evolution of these patterns in real time. It was striking, playful and very original!

When we spoke with Dev in 2011 the self-taught multidisciplinary artist, designer and CG director described his artistic practice and also the way in which he used TouchDesigner:

In my recent practice developing sculptural work, my motivation has been to synthesize tangible surfaces with an augmented reality of sorts, visualizing an alternate life inside inanimate objects. I'm also really interested in objects that can act as illumination sources, so in some respects I'm exploring hypothetical lighting design of the future.

I'd toyed with TouchDesigner many years ago while it was still in early development. It's only in the last two years that I've really began using it in earnest and incorporating it into my everyday work flow.

My work flow with TouchDesigner is very spontaneous, typically building tools on the fly as I need them. Since I'm not building tools other people need to use I can be pretty free form. The biggest difference perhaps from other software is that I'm most often using TouchDesigner on my laptop while on top of a ladder, and I get most of my work done this way!

You can read the rest of that article here and what follows is a brief pictorial 'catch-up' of Harlan's work in the last 3 years. Enjoy!

For more about the artist and his work visit Dev Harlan's personal website.