The Polygon Sculptures of Susy Oliveira

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Polygon Sculptures of Susy Oliveira

faces sculptures

Once again MAKE Magazine turns us on to something fantastic: the sculpture of Susy Oliveira. I have to say I haven’t seen anything like this before, and there is something, like the original MAKE poster said, that reminds me of the dead bodies in various video games. While that’s just a fleeting reference–Oliveira is an new Canadian artist doing work across several fields, and this is just one of them–it’s the one that caught my attention.

What is it about taking computer-inspired shapes and forms, like the constrictions of polygons, and pulling them out into the open world? Why is this fascinating? Art historians (and I am definitely not one of them) could insert these works somewhere along the “history of sculpture” timeline, tracing influences of certain movements without ever touching the computerized aspect of it. But that very connection to computerization is what makes all the difference: these are photos, printed out and sculpted on top of foam in such a way that they resemble the simplistic polygons of the first three-dimensional games (think Virtua Fighter).

jeans sculpture

What I’d really love to do is have the chance to see this work in person, where I could walk around it and see it from varying angles, which is obviously a large part of the work’s significance: each piece of the surface has a series of separate angles created by the polygons, which make even something as simple as a pair of jeans seem strange and unreal.

The appeal of all these projects still gets me thinking: does their appeal come solely from their nods to computer-based design? Game designers had to use primitive, obvious polygons during the initial stages of 3d-game design, and 8-bit games were constrained into using the pixel as building block. Now, are the children who grew up with those generations clamouring for artistic representations of those childhood touchstones in a more mature context?

girl and bear

Well, that’s one way of putting it, and at the moment that’s how I approach these things at first–they hit a series of nostalgic buttons, and if the art can remain interesting beyond that, then I can cast any nods to a pre-existing, even video-game related concept aside and look for more. And there seems to be plenty here.

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