Soo Sunny Park's "Unwoven Light" at the Rice University Art Gallery in Houston, Texas.

Soo Sunny Park's "Unwoven Light" at the Rice University Art Gallery in Houston, Texas.

Credit: Courtesy of Nash Baker


Artist Soo Sunny Park's "Unwoven Light" installation is ephemeral, graceful, and nearly immaterial, and looks nothing like chain-link fencing—the ubiquitous product that's the backbone of her installation opening next week at the Robert and Elaine Stein Galleries in Dayton, Ohio.

Park's interest in the crude product's simultaneous porosity and rigidity inspired her to use it as a structural frame that could assume complex shapes and be infilled with unexpected materials. In her installation, which was previously on display at the Rice University Art Gallery in Houston, Texas, Park inserted planes of iridescent plexiglass inside each of the fence's cells. She also welded each section of fence in order to achieve a series of lacy, sculptural forms, which are delicately suspended in space.

The most dramatic aspect of the chain-link conversion concerns its relationship to light. The tiny jewel-like cells in Park's hovering forms act as prismatic beacons, scattering multicolored highlights throughout the space. As a result, the installation appears to expand significantly beyond the space occupied by its physical substance.

"We don't notice light when looking so much as we notice the things light allows us to see," Park said in a Rice Gallery press release. "Unwoven Light captures light and causes it to reveal itself, through colorful reflections and refractions on the installations surfaces and on the gallery floor and walls."

The glimmering sculpture, which recalls sloughed, iridescent snakeskin or kaleidoscopic subaqueous terrain, demonstrates the extent to which a common, mass-produced material may be transformed, while still being exploited for its utilitarian capacities.

"Unwoven Light" will be on display at the Robert and Elaine Stein Galleries from Sept. 15-Oct. 13, 2013.

Soo Sunny Park: Unwoven Light from Walley Films on Vimeo.

Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a regularly featured columnist whose stories appear on this website each week. His views and conclusions are not necessarily those of ARCHITECT magazine nor of the American Institute of Architects.