The Evolving Sculpture and Animation of Oliver Laric at SLAM

    By Kerry Marks

    How do images originate? How are they re-purposed and repeated throughout history? What is original and what might be the not-so-original history behind the original? Multimedia artist, Oliver Laric, addresses these questions by remixing an iconic sculpture that originated in the renaissance.

    Or did it?

    In “Currents 116: Oliver Laric” at the Saint Louis Art Museum, “Reclining Pan, 2018” takes position in the center of a bare, white room perched on top of a simple and almost invisible platform. The reinterpreted mythological figure calls for the undivided attention of visitors to the museum’s contemporary section. It’s a hybrid creature constructed with various textures and surfaces. One section is transparent, another iridescent, yet every section a copy of the original located on the other side of the museum. It originated from a series of 3-d scans conducted by the museum, then sent to Laric, and constructed via 3-d printing and printed molds.

    The Pan figure drew Laric’s attention due to his “interest in hybridity and animal human liminal states, transitional figures, and mythological figures,” according to Hannah Klemm, curator of the exhibit and assistant curator of modern and contemporary art. However the history behind the “original” sculpture most likely also factored into the equation.

    “Reclining Pan, c.1535” rests off Sculpture Hall in gallery 236, a darker space filled with other European masterpieces. Francesco da Sangalio created the marble sculpture in Italy and before becoming an art object, it once served as a fountain. But examine the back of the statue closely, and you’ll see where another image once existed underneath Pan – one of a stately roman figure.

    “This Pan had many elements that are very interesting when you think of them,” Klemm says. Laric’s practice “often deals with these different ways that images and objects live throughout the world.”

    One room over, Laric’s most recent video plays on a loop. It’s a short, monochromatic piece titled “Betweeness, 2018” which appropriates images from various sources, including CT scans of one of the museum’s mummies, and transforms them into an evolving series of images that continuously change form.

    Laric created the animation from a single, black vector line against a white background. In the video, Laric says he’s “not focusing just on metamorphosis, but also on the moments in between moments. As such, the aspect of time is more present here; every scene is presented slowed down, and there is never an idea of closer, or resolve.”

    Running concurrently with “Currents 116” is an earlier video which addresses similar themes. “Untitled, 2014-15” can be found in gallery 301 as part of SLAM’s “New Media Series.” It consists of images and figures taken from various animations across the world and compiled into a stream of consciousness type video that comes with a warning label. Some of the imaginative imagery can be graphic at times.

    “Currents 116: Oliver Laric” and “New Media Series – Oliver Laric” will be free and open to the public from Feb. 22 until May 27. For even more of Laric’s work, head over to the Contemporary Art Museum where his 2010 video, “2000 Cliparts” can be seen projected onto the CAM building every night until April 21, 2019 as part of their “Street Views” series. To download, view, and even print your own Reclining Pan, go to where Laric has made the scan available in the public domain.

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