A Living Model of Hyperbolic Space

Allison Leigh Holt

2017

180″ x 240″ x 6″

Glass, water, steel, neodymium magnets, mirrored acrylic, Parmotrema lichen

 

The curled, frilly form of Parmotrema lichen is a natural example of the true shape of the space in which we find ourselves, so-called hyperbolic space. The shortest distance between two points, therefore, is never a straight line as we’re taught, but rather, a curve. From a young age, Westerners learn to live within the city grid, to apply order to the not-quite-fixed world of natural forms and systems, which determines what’s normal and what is not.

 

Our perceptions are also defined by our attachment to human scale. In this piece, the refractive properties of water—within globes of hand-blown glass—act as a lens, magnifying what lies behind them while projecting the moving image of what lies before them. Their scale exaggerates the same phenomena as morning dew, clouds, and the water in the air we breathe. A Living Model offers a glimpse into neurodivergent sense perception, which, in the artist’s case, shifts or collapses perceptual scales. These bio-sculptures serve as devices for seeing through another way of knowing.

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In this frontal close-up of the installation, water-filled glass globes refract and magnify the green-hued frills of lichen on branches mounted to the wall. Scattered throughout, smaller mirrored domes distribute glints of light and rounded shadows along the wall. Image credit: Richard Lomibao

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Side view of the installation, water-filled glass globes refract and magnify the green-hued frills of lichen on branches mounted to the wall. Scattered throughout, smaller mirrored domes distribute glints of light and rounded shadows along the wall. Image credit: Richard Lomibao

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Tactile samples for "A Living Model of Hyperbolic Space." Two green sponge bricks set perpendicular to each other on the white surface of a pedestal. On each, a clear resin globe artfully perched in front of a branch covered in frilly lichen. Image credit: Richard Lomibao.