MCASD has commissioned Los Angeles-based Jennifer Steinkamp—one of the most accomplished time-based, digital video artists working today—to create a new work in MCASD’s Jacobs Building, a renovated railway warehouse built in 1915 attached to the historic Santa Fe Depot in the heart of downtown San Diego. At MCASD, Steinkamp will present a new piece entitled Madame Curie, which is inspired by her recent research into atomic energy, atomic explosions, and the effects of these forces on nature. An enveloping panoramic work reminiscent of her 2004 piece The Wreck of the Dumaru, the piece will consist of seven synchronized projections onto three walls inside the 4,500 square-foot gallery.
Steinkamp’s video installation engages architecture to foster moments of intense public intimacy in this age of new media. Her work proposes a fundamental and powerful alliance between the content of artificial imagery and its form outside the computer’s virtual universe. Physically overwhelming, her pieces utilize cutting-edge projectors and digital masking applications to enhance or contradict the architectural features they inhabit, and immerse viewers in new phenomenological territory. Her installation asks for a novel reading of the role played by architecture not just in her work, but also in the increasingly ubiquitous use of large-scale video projection upon the built environment.
Steinkamp’s videos mesmerize with ceaseless motion of algorithmic transmutations. Like the Light and Space artists of the late 1960s and 1970s from which she draws her inspiration, her art proposes a new type of bodily experience; but Steinkamp adds an additional, and entirely unique element: the marking of time by the rhythms and movement of computer-generated images. As powerful phenomenological environments, Steinkamp’s installations take viewers beyond the boundaries of static architecture to contemplate their surroundings as more than a matter of space, but also as a factor of time, memory, and desire.
Jennifer Steinkamp: Madame Curie is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and MCASD Associate Curator Lucía Sanromán. The exhibition is made possible thanks to a generous lead gift from Joan and Irwin Jacobs.