Jennifer Steinkamp, “EON”

Jennifer Steinkamp, “EON”

  • <p>Jennifer Steinkamp, EON, 2020. 2:07 mins., looped, Video installation. 360 x 108 inches. Commission, Landmarks, The University of Texas at Austin, 2020. </p>
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Jennifer Steinkamp, EON, 2020.

American, born 1958

Among the pioneers of digital imaging, Jennifer Steinkamp is one of the medium’s most celebrated artists. She takes her inspiration from the natural world, using digital technology to create large-scale, hypnotic installations that pulse with recognizable life. Her scenes transform architectural spaces into hyperreal environments that blur the line between the animate and virtual.

Steinkamp leans heavily on the history of abstraction and perception, suggesting a lineage with the California light movement. However, since her seminal installation Eye Catching (2003), her work has moved away from abstraction toward figuration. Steinkamp has steadily refined her craft, creating an enormous vocabulary of digital objects that tend to appear randomly while being carefully placed compositionally. EON is an extension of this stylistic development and arguably the culmination of an artistic career thirty years in the making.

The panoramic world of EON reveals biomorphic shapes that undulate across the screen, punctuating an aqueous background with bursts of pink, yellow, and multicolored fragments. It behaves like a frieze or gigantic scroll that is impossible to grasp at a single glance. In it we see bubbles and loose aggregates of matter that resemble a swarm of living organisms and plants. While EON’s forms may suggest primordial biological life or exotic marine organisms, they are in fact generated through dense layers of digital animation and fictionalized by Steinkamp’s imagination.

EON is indebted to the most current thinking in the life sciences. Representing an alternative to the model of biological competition and natural selection, it draws inspiration from the concept of symbiosis, which explains the mutual cooperation and interdependence of unlike organisms as essential to the evolution of life forms. While Steinkamp considers EON a vision of a primordial ecology, it equally presents an imagined future–an optimistic alternative to the catastrophe of climate change.

Commissioned for the College of Natural Sciences, EON signals the research activity that takes place in Welch Hall. A vision as powerful as it is beautiful, it serves as a reminder that life on earth began through cooperation, and that our future depends upon it.

  • <p>Jennifer Steinkamp, EON, 2020. Still frame. </p>
  • <p>Jennifer Steinkamp, EON, 2020. Photo by Christina S. Murrey.</p>

Location: Location: Welch Hall (WEL)

GPS: 30.28640025, -97.73749122