With its vibrant-hued droplets quivering like a spill of liquid mercury, Jennifer Steinkamp’s Untitled resembles nothing so much as a tessellating stained-glass window or a watery, rainbow-colored surface. These two possible references—one architectural and one natural—define the twin poles of the artist’s practice. Since the late 1980s, Steinkamp has used her training in motion graphics and computer animation to create a range of installations that relate to the natural world in their imagery. While the allusion in Untitled is fairly abstract, other works such as Dervish I or Pillow Fight include photorealistic simulations of swaying, seasonally changing trees or feathers lazily succumbing to gravity.
The poetic verisimilitude of Steinkamp’s animations is strategic. Her installations do not disassociate us from reality but rather actively reshape our phenomenological understanding of the concrete architectural spaces we inhabit. As projected onto a floor in the museum, Untitled dissolves the assumed stability of this surface.
Label from Screen Play: Life in an Animated World, June 20–September 13, 2015