The sun comprises 99.8% of our solar system’s mass. Alas, most diagrams distort the Earth as bigger and the sun as smaller. Could such misunderstanding benefit climate change deniers? Daniel Rozin challenges us to explore how we interact with and perceive the sun in a fascinating new show at bitforms gallery.
In contemporary art, the sun often gets a bad rap by starring in cheesy landscapes, so-called mystical works (often reeking of cultural misappropriation), and overwrought, hyper-scientific conceptual art. So, it’s exciting that Daniel Rozin does something different. He depicts the sun with interactive pieces that respond to the viewer’s movements.
In “Sunset Mirror” (2019), the sun rises as you draw near. Your silhouette reflects back to you as a golden-orange ghost. It alludes to various spiritual ideas about inner light, and Rozin wisely left the imagery open enough to accommodate various individual beliefs.
“Fabric Mirror” (2019) uses a digital camera and advanced engineering to create the viewer’s golden silhouette in fabric. It’s mesmerizing to watch the folds of red and gold fabric morph to resemble you. It’s a bit slower than the TV screen but this delay is the point. To understand climate change you have to look at long-term impacts, which immediate or knee-jerk perceptions might miss.
“Cracked Mud” (2019) is the centerpiece of the show. It’s a large, square section of cracked mud on the floor with a big light bulb dangling over it like the sun. The clay pieces of mud are mechanically configured to shift and swerve in response to viewers’ gestures and presences, so we get to see how we can change and shift the mud that is dried by the sun. It has a mesmerizing quality and many of us at the opening sat around it like a campfire.
It was powerful to see our movement choices ripple across this model of the Earth and sun — to become uniquely aware of our impact. Many contemporary artists are grappling with climate change and the sun, but few create works as compelling as these. They’re worth a visit.
Daniel Rozin’s Sol continues at bitforms gallery (131 Allen St, Lower East Side, Manhattan) through March 17.