This past Saturday, new Orvis Artist in Residence Gideon Gerlt made multiple trips to Spalding House on his moped, hauling big parcels of materials for his installation Neural Net. The end result will be an architectural sculpture with metal-and-acrylic pieces suspended over the Surface Gallery. As part of the residency, all projects include a public interaction element, and Gerlt invites you to work with him and interact with Neural Net on Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 24.
The sculpture will be made of three different shapes of steel triangles (and three different sizes of each shape) that Gerlt fabricated, along with many sizes of acrylic panels. Gerlt drew the shapes for the acrylic panels in Adobe Illustrator, exported them to a CAD file (what architects use to make architectural renderings), and took the file to a lab at the University of Hawai‘i where he had the shapes come to life with a laser cutter. “It was clean and accurate,” says Gerlt, revealing the trial-and-error path art can take. “I had tried using a band saw but it wasn’t very good.”
Gerlt says he enjoys working figuratively, and Neural Net is a way for him to go in a new direction by pushing abstraction. The project is “a crossover of neurons in the brain and computer networking and information mapping,” he explains. “There are lots of parallels. It’s a way for me to explore how our technology mimics our physiology and structure. It’s very architectural in design, and interactive in a way that doesn’t force people to interact.”
As the sculpture takes shape, Gerlt will install surveillance cameras around the installation. The video feed will be projected at the entrance of the museum. Visitors experiencing Neural Net in the Surface Gallery will become part of the installation. “As it responds to you, you respond to it,” says Gerlt, who completed his MFA in sculpture at the University of Hawai‘i–Mānoa (under the guidance of Fred Roster) this past spring.
You can follow the artist’s progress here, where he will be making posts, and on Instagram by following @neuralnetio.