Jackie Matisse at Virtuality Conference in Turin, Italy

   

Virtuality is a premiere international event on Computer Graphics, Interactive Techniques, Digital Cinema, 3D Animation, Gaming and VFX.  Every year, Virtuality proposes the most up-to-date discussion about cutting-edge applications of VR and Interactive Techniques in various fields.  Particular attention is paid to industrial applications and to the multifaceted universe of cinema, including presentations by world-class experts of animation and visual effects.

 


“Kites Flying in and Out of Space is the first virtual reality (VR) art piece to use big broadband grid computing full-immersion techniques.  For the kites to appear as three-dimensional forms in space, the computer-generated images must correspond perspectivally to a viewer’s location in the CAVE.  A CAVE is a 10-by-10-foot structure in which computer-generated images are rear-projected onto the walls and floor so that a person standing in the CAVE is completely surrounded by stereoscopic computer graphics.

 

With Kites, a participant wears special glasses and holds a wand to control kite movements and to inject wind into the scene.  The glasses, tracked using magnetic sensors, feed data to a computer that continually recalculates the kite forms and projects them back into the cave.

 

Scott Bradner of Network World called Kites Flying in and Out of Space the most emblematic demonstration of a real-time interactive, 3-D work of art and a beautiful personfication of distributed computing.”

 

(Taken from Howard Ristatti’s article “Jackie Matisse, Collaborations in Art and Science.” Sculpture Magazine. November, 2006.)

Jackie Matisse

Kites Flying In and Out of Space

Virtuality Conference 

Turin, Italy

November 3 – 6, 2005

 

 

 

 

“Art Flying In and Out of Space” is a virtual reality simulation of Jackie Matisse’s real-world physical kites, although we may be calling it an ‘interactive stereoscopic installation’ rather than VR in this case. The installation is what’s called a projection-based VR system, as apposed to the perhaps more familiar head-mounted display, where users wear a helmet with computer displays attached.  Projection-based VR started with the CAVE system developed at the University of Illinois’ Electronic Visualization Laboratory.  One of the key elements of VR is to immerse the viewer in the virtual world (note that the meaning of ‘immersion’ is very loose and often up for debate). Head-mounted displays do this by attaching the display to the viewer’s head; projection-based systems do this by using very large screens that fill one’s field of view.  A full CAVE is a 10 x 10 foot room with projections on multiple walls and the floor; due to space and budget restrictions, this gallery installation will only have a single 8 x 10 foot screen; when users stand up close, it will still (more or less) fill their field of view.  The screen is rear-projected so that people can stand close without casting shadows on the computer imagery.

 

The display is stereoscopic, similar to 3D movies.  The technology we use is polarized stereoscopy. Two projectors display different images, one for the left eye and one for the right eye.  The projectors have different polarizing filters, and viewers wear matching polarized glasses to see the 3D effect.

 

A six-degree-of-freedom tracking system is used in VR systems to allow the computer to know where things (such as the user’s head & hand) are, allowing direct physical interaction with the virtual world, rather than having interaction mediated by a button/menu/etc GUI.  In our case, we won’t be tracking the head (which normally is used to draw the graphics from the tracked person’s viewpoint), since several people will be viewing the display simultaneously, so we will use a fixed viewpoint for the graphics.  We will use the trackers to allow 2 or 3 people to fly the kites – the ends of the virtual strings will be attached to the physical trackers, which the people can move around in 3D.

 

The sound for the piece is music by Tom Johnson.  The music is dynamic – it plays in response to the motion of the kites, as manipulated by the viewers. The kites themselves involve a physics simulation known as a “mass-spring model”.  Each kite is treated as a mesh of points; the points are affected by physical forces such as wind and gravity, as well as a “spring force” that keeps the kite together as a single surface.  The earlier versions of the piece used supercomputers to perform detailed simulations of the kites, with the data being streamed back to the VR system over high-speed networks.  As

we don’t have such resources for this installation, a much simplified  version of the simulation will be running on the single Linux PC in the gallery. The motion of the simplified kites will still look very similar, just with less detail, and perhaps less realistic (although this is not likely to be apparent to most viewers).

 

The whole VR Installation consists of 2 or 3 PCs (one with a high-end “gaming quality” graphics card), an electromagnetic tracking system, 2 projectors, polarizing  filters and glasses, a special polarizing-preserving screen, and speakers.  We assembled the system ourselves at UB from these parts; some companies sell similar systems pre-packaged, but for a lot more money.

 

Dave Pape

Assistant Professor

Media Study, University at Buffalo

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Heads and Tails by Jackie Matisse

JACKIE MATISSE

Heads and Tails: Hommage to Merce
September 24 - November 20, 2009
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JACKIE MATISSE: New Art Volant

May 26 - June 24, 2005
Jackie Matisse Kites Flying in and out of space

Jackie Matisse at Virtuality Conference in Turin, Italy

with Dave Pape and Josephine Anstey
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Sculpture Magazine on Jackie Matisse

SCULPTURE MAGAZINE review on Jackie Matisse

"Jackie Matisse: Collaborations in Art and Science", November 2006

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The Village Voice reviews “Jackie Matisse: New Art Volant”

The Village Voice

June 15th - 21st, 2005

Air Born

Jackie Matisse

by R.C. Baker

 

 

Jackie Matisse

Zone Chelsea

601 West 26th Street

Through June 24

 

Henri was Jackie Matisse’s granddad; she helped her stepfather, Marcel Duchamp, with the construction of his “portable museums.” Some might have wilted under such a legacy. Instead, this septuagenarian artist has combined the bold compositions and formal revolutions of her heritage, leavened them with Arte Povera, and blazed her own trail on gallery walls and video screens, underwater, and across the sky.

 

A selection of Matisse’s kite art—vibrant cloth sails and rainbow-saturated crepe paper tails—anchors a body of work that has a strong physical presence and a radiant spirit. Using rigid piano wire, Matisse has constructed skeletal boxes containing street flotsam—bits of foil, wood, plastic toys, newsprint, feathers—suspended by strands of human hair from “many different people.” (The framework for Magic Hair No. 1, 1968, is meant to evoke a Paris cobblestone, and the artist confides, “the hair is a very small one,” implying that some were making love, not war, during the May revolts.) Elsewhere, tiny streamers swirl in bottles of water (magnets propel their weightless, chromatic dance), and virtual-reality kites vie for prominence in a pixel sky. Sweet yet determined, this work exhibits no fear of flying.

Related:
Heads and Tails by Jackie Matisse

JACKIE MATISSE

Heads and Tails: Hommage to Merce
September 24 - November 20, 2009
Jackie Matisse, "New Art Volant", Installation view

JACKIE MATISSE: New Art Volant

May 26 - June 24, 2005
Jackie Matisse Kites Flying in and out of space

Jackie Matisse at Virtuality Conference in Turin, Italy

with Dave Pape and Josephine Anstey
November 3 - 6, 2005
Sculpture Magazine on Jackie Matisse

SCULPTURE MAGAZINE review on Jackie Matisse

"Jackie Matisse: Collaborations in Art and Science", November 2006

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SCULPTURE MAGAZINE review on Jackie Matisse

Novbember 2006, Vol.25, P34 - 39, by Howard Risatti

Jackie Matisse: Collaborations in Art and Science

 

New York and Paris based artist Jackie Matisse has been making and flying long-tailed, Asian-style kites for several decades.  In 2002, through Ray Kass of the Mountain Lake Workshop of the Virginia Tech Foundation, she became involved in a radically new and technologically ground-breaking project, a collaboration with super-computer scientists to create simulated kites to fly in virtual space.  The result, Kites Flying in and Out of Space, is the first virtual reality (VR) art piece ever created to use big broadband “grid” computing full immersion techniques.  When it was shown in Amsterdam at the iGRID 2002 Conference sponsored by science and technology center SARA (Stitchting Academisch Rekencentrum Amsterdam), Scott Bradner of Network World called it the “most emblematic demonstration of a real-time interactive, 3-D work of art” and “a beautiful personification of distributed computing.”1

            Among the features that made Kitesso compelling was the way it exploited the CAVE™ at SARA to set 3-dimensional form in motion.  A CAVE is a 10′ x 10′ structure in which computer-generated images are rear projected onto walls and floor so that a person standing in the CAVE is completely surrounded by (i.e, fully immersed in) stereoscopic computer graphics.2  To appear as three-dimensional forms in space, these graphics must correspond perspectivally to a viewer’s location in the CAVE.  This is done by having a computer track the viewer’s position and movements in real time.  With Kitesa participant wears special glasses and holds a wand with a virtual kite string attached to control kite movements and to inject wind into the scene. The glasses, tracked using magnetic sensors, feed data to a computer that continually recalculates the kite forms (∼30 frames/second) and projects them back into the CAVE.  This insures kite movements appear perspectively correct even when the viewer moves or turns his or her head.  In part because they are not stationary forms, each of the 12 kites in the piece is so complex to simulate (each utilizes up to 15 megabits/second) that a distributed computational model using processors on multiple machines is needed. At SARA servers distributed across the globe (Chicago, Canada, Japan, Singapore, and Virginia) were enlisted to calculate kite forms, each server streaming a single kite into the CAVE. In the international scope of its collaboration Kites Flying in and Out of Spacewas a wonderful example of network performance and a visual metaphor of the possibilities of global cooperation through art and technology.

            A version of Kitesshown in 2005 at Zone: Chelsea Center for the Arts in New York was a flat-screen, interactive stereoscopic installation.  Similar to 3-D movies, this technology uses polarized stereoscopy: two projectors with different polarizing filters display differing images (one for each eye); when viewers wear matching polarized glasses they see the separate images and experience a 3-D effect similar to that of 19th-century stereoscope photographs.  To simplify computer computations, in this version feed-back from a hand-held tracking mouse with a virtual string attached was fixed to a stationary point in front of the screen, not to a mobile viewer as in the CAVE.3  Rear-projection allowed viewers to stand close to the 8′ x 10′ screen without casting shadows so the screen completely filled their field of vision and any perspectival discrepancies became imperceptible.  Up to five participants with 3-D glasses and a hand-held mouse could each fly their own kite and interact with each others kites.  This multi-participant feature extended the collaboration metaphor from the invisible grid network used in the CAVE at SARA to the virtual space visible in front of the screen.  Through the international grid kite flyers also could have interacted from distant sites thereby giving a global dimension to the metaphor.

            To go from flying real-world kites to collaborating with scientist/engineers to fly virtual kites seems a radical transformation for Jackie Matisse of both means and ends.  I say radical because collaboration challenges the art world’s insistence on the singularity of artistic production and because computer imaging challenges the art world’s belief in “personal touch” as a sign of creative individuality.4  Collaboration also is a risky move for the artist as well because, when genuine, it means giving up a degree of artistic control and putting personal identity in jeopardy.  But, making and flying kites as art is already a departure from mainstream art practice, so much so that the artist risks not being taken seriously.  To most people flying kites seems akin to children’s play or simply an attempt to recapture innocence lost.  For Jackie Matisse, however, it moves beyond simple adult desires for innocence and purity.  Her kites, with their colorful tails as long as 35 to 45 feet, take Alexander Calder’s conception of sculpture as movement and change (rather than mass in place) and infuse it with an animating spirit.  That’s why in the early 1970s she and six other artists including Tal Streeter, Curt Asker, and Istevan Bodoczky signed the Art Volant Manifesto (Flying Art Manifesto) declaring that the kite is “a vehicle joining the spirit and the physical…, the kite’s flying line connects the human hand and mind with the elements.” 

            For Jackie Matisse, kites are a vehicle to play with color, to “draw” lines in the sky and to sculpt the air.  As she has said, “my kites play games with the light, hide and seek with the clouds.”5  The term “play,” however, should be understood more in the philosophical sense of an inventive interaction of creative possibilities through chance and a loosening of personal control.  This openness to chance as a genuinely collaborative force in her work has its roots in the1950s and 60s, especially in Gesture painting, Earth and Conceptual/Process art, and the ideas of John Cage. 

            In Gesture painting the mark left on the canvas is a physical manifestation of an action, a two-dimensional trace in paint declaring the artist’s presence in the world.  Such works were not pre-planned, but the result of “situations” organized to open the artist to the unexpected so painting would become a path to the new and to self-discovery.  Jackie Matisse shares with Gesture painters their openness to chance and the idea of art as a performative act.  However, her kite-drawings are 3-dimensional and made, literally, in the vastness of empty space.  They leave no physical trace because their lines are not material manifested on a ground, but lines only in the sense in which we would speak of a “bee” line, a direction or motion of an object–real or imagined–in and through space.  Thus, the sculptural forms her kites locate in space are unstable and transitory, continually coming into being and, at the same time, continually disappearing into nothingness.  If they are to be understood as betraying the artist’s existential presence, it is at best a fleeting, transitory presence existing only as long as the mind can embrace them as object and concept.

            In their conceptual and environmental aspects her works also parallel 1960s Earth and Conceptual /Process Art–here I am thinking of Michael Heizer’s motorcycle drawings in the Nevada desert, the airborne sculpture of Otto Piene and Group Zero in Düsseldorf, and the work of Hans Haacke, specifically his 1967 Sky LineSky Linewas a series of helium-filled balloons strung on a line like pearls; when it was released in Central Park it floated upwards creating an actual, physical line in the sky whose shape was determined by chance by the breeze, thus diminishing the role of the artist in the work’s final actualization.  In doing so Sky Line reflects the ideas of John Cage who, already in the 1950s, tried to free art from individual taste and ego by using chance methods derived from the I Chingto compose music; his solo piano composition 4’33”(sometimes referred to as Silence) has no notes so when David Tudor premiered it in 1954, only the ambient sounds of nature were heard in the open-air concert hall.  Cage went on to use chance to make visual art beginning in 1978.6

            Jackie Matisse’s work, even more than Haacke’s Sky Line, is influenced by Cage with whom she developed a close friendship through her step-father Marcel Duchamp.  Nevertheless, her work remains independently her own because, unlike Haacke or Cage, she never tries to completely relinquish control.  Instead, she actively flies her kites and in doing so the sculptural forms drawn in space can be seen as extensions of her presence in the world and reflections of her “wishes and desires.”  On the other hand, the movements of her kites are only prompted by her actions, not completely controlled by them–air currents, air resistance, gravity, aerodynamics all play their part in flying her kites with her. In a kind of mutual action and inter-action, the slightest of hand gestures are magnified, but also altered by the forces of nature acting upon the kite.  What results is a “give and take” between her hand and the forces of nature. As she has said,

my kites push and pull on the wind….My hand grows longer and longer until I feel I am somehow in contact with that immensity into and out of which all things come and go.

 

This is clearly a post-Cagean sensibility because, in giving oneself over to the process of flying, one is neither the sole agent nor a passive witness, but a genuine collaborator with and in nature. This makes the sky an arena in which to both act and to be acted upon, not only to allow, but to prompt the un-expected into being.

            On a philosophical level Jackie Matisse’s art is a reminder that we are not alone in the world, but a part of it, that our actions reverberate beyond ourselves.  This gives her work a certain resonance with the environmental movement and the existential belief in personal responsibility.  It also challenges recent Post Structuralist claims that signs lack presence, that they no longer directly connect to lived experience, only to other signs.  Encountering nature through the kite is a direct, lived experience, one that helps situate man in that larger world extending beyond the self–after all, when the artist tugs on the kite line, it is nature, in its fullness, that tugs back. This situating of man in the world through direct experience, it seems to me, is the intellectual underpinning of flying kites as an artistic endeavor.

            In 1979 when one of her kites accidently fell into the sea, Jackie Matisse got the idea of “flying” kites underwater.  This led to collaborations with composer David Tudor and filmmaker Molly Davies in the creation of Sea Tails(a six-monitor, six-channel video installation shown at the Pompidou Center in 1983) and Sound Totem, 9 Lines(a 1986 performance in the Whitney Museum Sculpture Court).  These collaborations, which were radically different because now she was not only sharing control with nature but with two other artistic personalities, eventually led to her Mountain Lake Workshop project.

            While focus of the Mountain Lake Workshop has always been collaboration, over the years these collaborations have increasingly involved art and science including John Cage and mycologist Orson Miller; Kyoto minimalist Jiro Okura and the Brooks Wood Research Center; and NYC Department of Sanitation “artist-in-residence” Mierle Laderman Ukeles in anaerobic microbiology.  When Workshop founder and director Ray Kass saw photographs of Jackie Matisse’s kites and Molly Davies’video of her underwater kites, he was immediately struck by their ethereal, other worldly forms.  To “fly” them in virtual space seemed appropriate to her own artistic experimentations and to the direction the Workshop had been going. 

            Thus began Jackie Matisse’s virtual reality collaboration, one which shifts the dialogue in her art from nature to science/technology, two of her long-standing interests.  From early on her kites have featured a black square on their heads as a homage to Malevich, the Russian Suprematist painter who related art to new technology and tried to express pure feelings unencumbered by physical material.  But Malevich never actually employed modern technology in his work so his example remained abstract and imaginary.  Her first-hand experience of artistic and technological collaboration began in the 1960s when, through Niki de Saint Phalle, she met Jean Tinguely and Billy Kluver.  Kluver, an engineer for Bell Laboratories and a founding member of E. A. T. (Experiments in Art and Technology), collaborated with Tinguely on his Homage to New York, that animated sculptural machine which self-destructed in the MoMA Sculpture Garden in 1960.  Kluver also assisted Rauschenberg with his 1963 sculpture Oracleand was instrumental in the 1966 collaboration9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering in which Rauschenberg and Tudor both participated.7 

            With this background plus her work with Tudor and Davies, a super-computing collaboration seems a logical extension of her ideas.  Flying virtual kites, in one sense, realized both her and Malevich’s ambitions towards creation of physically unencumbered form; they are, after all, pure gossamer veils of light, ghostly forms that can be wrapped around a person but cannot be touched.  Trying to hold them is, as she has said, “like trying to hold onto a rainbow.” But in another sense, her engagement with technology is more than a dematerialization of the art object as Malevich wished.  It is an attempt to extend art’s social dimension into the world of cutting-edge technology by collaborating with that technology so the creative spirit of art and science can come together.  This collaboration, at the level of code writing and performative interaction, transforms virtual space from a purely technological site, a locus of scientific innovation, into a metaphorical arena for art’s social engagement with the world of science and technology.  While many questions remain concerning technology’s role in the life-world, this collaboration is an attempt to work from inside science to integrate art and technology, to get artists and scientists to collaborate–without instrumental and economic imperatives driving their work–in order to carry forward the spirit of what in the Post Enlightenment period would have been called “the cultivation of the human.”

 

1Scott Bradner, Network World (14 October 2002).

2CAVE™ is a registered trademark of the University of Illinois where the concept and technology were developed at its Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) in Chicago. Technically and fiscally, this project would not have happened without Tom Coffin of the U of I’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in Arlington, VA.  Coffin, an artist himself, endorsed the project, proposed it to EVL, and organized technical support.  Former graduate student Shalini Venkataraman, working under Dr. Jason Leigh at EVL, wrote the program.  Dr. Paul Weilinga, Director of SARA, also gave support. 

3Artist-programer David Pape, Department of Media Study, University of Buffalo, developed the mouse and adapted the VR CAVE program for other platforms so it could be used in a gallery situation.

4For more on these issues see Holland Carter, “The Collective Conscious,” The New York Times (5 March 2006), sec. 2, pp. 1 & 29.

5Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are from interviews the author conducted with the artist over the last three years.

6From 1978 until his death in 1992, Cage annually made prints with Kathan Brown at Crown Point Press using chance; in 1983, 88, 89, and 90 he used chance to paint watercolors with Ray Kass at the Mountain Lake Workshop.

7In December of 1966 Kluver helped found E. A. T. which later was engaged by Pepsi-Cola International to create the Pepsi Cola Pavilion at the 1970 Osaka World’s Fair, to date the most ambitious art and science/technology collaboration.

 

Heads and Tails by Jackie Matisse

JACKIE MATISSE

Heads and Tails: Hommage to Merce
September 24 - November 20, 2009
Jackie Matisse, "New Art Volant", Installation view

JACKIE MATISSE: New Art Volant

May 26 - June 24, 2005
Jackie Matisse Kites Flying in and out of space

Jackie Matisse at Virtuality Conference in Turin, Italy

with Dave Pape and Josephine Anstey
November 3 - 6, 2005
Sculpture Magazine on Jackie Matisse

SCULPTURE MAGAZINE review on Jackie Matisse

"Jackie Matisse: Collaborations in Art and Science", November 2006

Categories: projects

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“Airborne Abstraction”, ART IN AMERICA reviews Jackie Matisse’s exhibition

December 2005, by Jill Johnston

Heads and Tails by Jackie Matisse

JACKIE MATISSE

Heads and Tails: Hommage to Merce
September 24 - November 20, 2009
Jackie Matisse, "New Art Volant", Installation view

JACKIE MATISSE: New Art Volant

May 26 - June 24, 2005
Jackie Matisse Kites Flying in and out of space

Jackie Matisse at Virtuality Conference in Turin, Italy

with Dave Pape and Josephine Anstey
November 3 - 6, 2005
Sculpture Magazine on Jackie Matisse

SCULPTURE MAGAZINE review on Jackie Matisse

"Jackie Matisse: Collaborations in Art and Science", November 2006

Categories: projects

Tags:

JACKIE MATISSE: New Art Volant

ZONE: Chelsea Center for the Arts is pleased to present an exhibition of artworks by Jackie Matisse that span a period of more than 20 years. Included will be examples of her famous hand-made kites and kite tails, mobiles, collages, assemblages, and graphic works. Video presentations of her collaborative projects on display include a film, “Tailing a Dream,” (1985)with composer David Tudor and filmmaker Molly Davies, and “Art Flying In & Out of Space” (2002 – 2005), a flat-screen interactive stereoscopic installation of her recent experimental work in super computing and “virtual reality” with David Pape of the Department of Media Study, University of Buffalo.1

 

Jackie Matisse grew up in Paris and New York in the ambience of Constantin Brancusi and the Surrealists, and many of the artists associated with her father, Pierre Matisse, and his important 57th Street gallery. She had the personal experience of watching her grandfather, Henri Matisse, create his series of colorful paper collages. By the late 1950s she had started her own family and was assisting her stepfather, Marcel Duchamp, in assembling his Boite-en-Valise (portable museum) while finding her unique direction as an artist in the multi-dimensional motion of kites.

             

Kites have a rich tradition as objects of ritual display in Asian cultures and a kinship to the ceremonial unfurling of heraldic banners and flags. But kites also convey a popular image that can be shared in play with family and friends and are more modestly engaging and self-effacing than what we expect when we are experiencing “art.” By 1962 Jackie Matisse had begun thinking about kites as a form that could set art in motion. While taking a cab to the airport from NYC, she saw a single kite flying over Harlem that appeared to her like  a “line drawn in the sky,” this image inspired her to draw “on the canvas of the sky” and create “Art Volant”(flying art).2  For Jackie Matisse, the emptiness of the sky marked with  the “line” of a kite became a work of art.

             

All of Jackie Matisse’s works, and her particular imagery, imply transitory movement, either literally or metaphorically. Found materials, casually appropriated imagery, light-loving translucence, and freedom of movement are intrinsic qualities of her work. Moreover, her kite-flying is a form of performance art that embraces the random effects of “chance” in the natural environment; an appreciation of “chance” is the sensibility inherent in all of her various works.

               

The aerodynamic forms of Jackie Matisse’s kite heads and tails, and the simple curved forms that often appear on the tails, are deceptively ultra-modernist when they are displayed indoors in galleries. However, Jackie Matisse has found personal sources for her modernist imagery, transpose strategies that have enabled her to escape from the shadow of the artistic giants in her family.

             

In the late 1960s, during the period of the Apollo Mission and the first man on the Moon  (which Jackie Matisse felt was “the deflowering of the Moon”), she discovered a source for images of the Moon’s shifting visage in the local market place of Nemours where a tableware vendor was breaking some of his dishes in the street to advertise his plates (“Buy them or I will break them!”). 3 The idea of breaking plates in order to get people to buy them, and the uncanny resemblance of the broken ceramic pieces lying on the street to the phases of the Moon, resulted in her use of broken dish shards as stencils for the simple shapes in her work.

             

Recycling imagery is part of the transitory character of her work.  Her long-time friend, the artist and critic Suzi Gablik, has pointed out that Jackie Matisse “is unique in the way that Ray Johnson is for his unusual correspondence art. She is an original, a ‘gutterartist’ who makes art out of gum wrappers, bottles, and bits of trash that one finds on the street, or in a terrain vague(a vacant  lot) – sometimes tying bits of this material  together or suspending them on human hair  gathered from her family and friends.” For her underwater kites she found a special fabric that had the specific gravity of water so that they would have a sense of weightlessness.  Gablik has also noted that Jackie Matisse’s working methods always invoke an air of mystery and usually involve a “secret recipe.”4        

             

Jackie Matisse has succeeded in bearing the culture of her unique family by creating art in her own visual language.

 

End notes:

  1. “Tailing A Dram”was produced under the auspices of Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France. “Kites Flying In & Out of Space”has been developed since 2002 by the Mountain Lake Workshop of the Virginia Tech Foundation; the workshop is a collaborative, community-based art project focused on the customs and the environmental and technological resources of the New River Valley and the Appalachian region.

 

2. In the early 1970s Jackie Matisse and a cohort of fellow-artists including Tal Streeter, Curt Asker and Istevan Bodoczky, signed the Art Volant Manifesto, declaring that the kite is “ a vehicle joining the spirit and the physical….the kite’s flying line connects the human hand and mind with the elements.”

 

3. Leslie Vallhonrat, Art That Soars, Kites and Tails by Jackie Matisse, exhibition catalogue edited by Martha Longenecker, (San Diego: Mingei International Museum, 2000), p. 30. Ms. Vallhonrat’s essay was originally published by the Goldie Paley Gallery, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, PA. U.S.A. for the 1999 exhibition, Kitetail Cocktail.

 

4. Suzi Gablik in conversation with Ray Kass, April 13, 2005, Blacksburg, Virginia.

May 26 – June 24, 2005 

Opening reception

Thursday May 26th 2005

6-8pm

 

Ever the kiteflying pioneer, Jackie Matisse, of Fontainbleau Forest , France , late last year collaborated on the first high-bandwidth art piece ever created by computer. Working with the Amsterdam Science and Technology Center, Matisse contributed 12 of her very long, beautifully decorated kite tails to the project. Because wind speed was added to the equation, extensive calculations were required for these real-time kinetic art pieces (kites). Computer operations, mainly at universities, around the world each took on a single one of the dozen tails. The computers were located in Chicago, Canada , Japan , Singapore , Virginia and elsewhere.

The simulation took place in Amsterdam in a three-by-three meter room known as the cave. Three-dimensional computer-generated stereo images were projected on the walls and floor. Visitors viewed the images with special glasses, allowing them to experience date in exceptional ways.

The test was dubbed “kites flying in and out of space” because the project was actually an illusion of sorts. A viewer could put his hand right through a flying, fluttering kite.

So what did the successful demonstration mean? One answer was this: the flying kites were a visual metaphor for high speed networking performance, an important harbinger of things to come globally.

Matisse takes a longer view. “The kites evolved from my use of the sky as a canvas and because they are hard to fly in all conditions, I have experimented with alternate spaces in the past, including under the water and on video. This virtual reality networking enabled me to compose and fly many more kites than I would have been able to fly in real space.

Only granddaughter of the artist Henri Matisse and stepdaughter of Marcel Duchamp, two of the four most influential artists of the 20 th century (the others are Picasso and Pollock), Matisse came to kites as her unique, chosen art form after raising a family of four in Paris. Daughter of New York art dealer Pierre Matisse, she had been reared and educated in the U.S. “Kites have helped me maintain my independence, to express what I feel about art through making ephemeral art works in the sky. Kites are a magical, never ending story and that’s why I cling to them. Whether putting kites into the air, or under the water, or into cyber space, I’ll continue to experiment with them.”

Jackie Matisse feels Duchamp helped her find kites because of his tolerant gaze. For her and for artists all over the world, he flung open the door to unheard of materials and potential directions for art. She says she took up kites after buying a 22-foot Thai snake kite, which she unfurled in the wind and soon lost. But it was a Pandora’s box for her; the image of this long kite flying in the air and creating unpredictable movement and color captured her imagination. She has been making and flying kites ever since.

Her view is that “the sky is a vast celestial canvas, offering the artist an unexploited working space. Kites sculpt the air, they play a game of freedom- they tell a mysterious story. They allow an expression of the infinitely variable interplay of movement, light and color.”

One commentator has called her kites a form of aerial painting. It has been observed they can be viewed as site- specific choreography for the sky. Another observer nicely compares them to Tibetan prayer flags inscribed with mantras, fluttering in the wind and connecting with the moving spirits of the air, thus dispensing the mantra’s benevolent power.

“Her work is inspired, comments Scott Skinner, president of the Drachen Foundation and a student of kite making and flying world wide. “Her interest seems to be with the environment as much as with kites. She provides a different way of seeing kites. She turns a kite into a functional object in which to view the environment. Her water pieces, involving mysterious movement, dappled color, implied sound, are particularly powerful. We all like the unexpected, and she provides it.”

In the 1970s, Matisse became associated with a loose association of visual artists who happened to use kites in their art—–not kite-makers turning out art kites, a significant distinction. Others in the group included the American Tal Streeter, the Swede Curt Asker, and the Hungarian Istvan Bodczky. What the group had in common was a modernist sensibility. The emphasis was on the use of simple, sometimes unorthodox material, on unpretentiousness, accident, the transitory. The collective viewed kiting as participatory, kinetic performance art.

Over the last two decades or so, Matisse’s airborne kites led her to more domesticated works—-assemblages composed of box-like wire armatures that support strings of small floating found objects and tiny sails of painted paper or spinnaker cloth. Rescued detritus is transformed into magical, elegant table pieces. Her swimming tails led her to water-filled bottles in which suspended arrangements of small, shaped tails of various materials became miniature studies for her large-scale underwater kite art.

Matisse even figured out a way to put movement into her long kite tails while hanging them indoors. She hangs them up on rollers and powers them into movement vie small electric motors. Simple, but effective. One of these hangs in the living room of her comfortable old house in the middle of a village. Complete with its own large courtyard graced by two large chestnut trees, the house has lots of paintings and sculptures. “Family and friends,” she says of the artists represented. That their names reverberate in Western art history is just the way it happens to be.

 

Matisse’s kite making studio is elsewhere in the village. It is two stories high and nicely organized. A notable prop there is a kite reel crafted for her by the artist Jean Tinguely. Although utilitarian, it is a work of art in itself.

Amid a Henri Matisse drawing and Duchampian chess paraphernalia and two of his ready mades (the famous bottle rack and the bicycle wheel mounted atop a stool, both replicas), Jackie Matisse gathers in front of the fire with two of her sons. They discuss Duchamp, who they admired and adored. Matisse adds a small note of reality to the talk. “Yes, he was wonderful, of course but he did smoke cheap Spanish cigars. When he played chess, he was wrapped in smoke.” One of her sons adds: “We still use the boxes they came in for one thing or another. A family vignette.” Despite the cigars, he lived until he was 82.

At a time in life when some would contemplate retirement, Matisse remains busy and fulfilled. She maintains a large household, tends to her family (three sons and an daughter, grandchildren, two dogs and a cat), has a large and devoted group of friends around the world. She exhibits her own work (most recently at a one-person exhibition at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego). And, importantly, she helps represent the family in dealings with the Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp heritage—-meeting with curators and scholars, overseeing a journal devoted to the Duchampian legacy, attending the still frequent exhibitions of their work around the world.

The of course when she can make the time, there are always her kites to keep her absorbed in art creative work. Jackie Matisse has this final comment: “Why do I make flying art? To fly is soothing to the soul.”

“Art Flying In and Out of Space” is a virtual reality simulation of Jackie Matisse’s real-world physical kites, although we may be calling it an ‘interactive stereoscopic installation’ rather than VR in this case. The installation is what’s called a projection-based VR system, as apposed to the perhaps more familiar head-mounted display, where users wear a helmet with computer displays attached. Projection-based VR started with the CAVE system developed at the University of Illinois’ Electronic Visualization Laboratory.  One of the key elements of VR is to immerse the viewer in the virtual world (note that the meaning of ‘immersion’ is very loose and often up for debate). Head-mounted displays do this by attaching the display to the viewer’s head; projection-based systems do this by using very large screens that fill one’s field of view. A full CAVE is a 10 x 10 foot room with projections on multiple walls and the floor; due to space and budget restrictions, this gallery installation will only have a single 8 x 10 foot screen; when users stand up close, it will still (more or less) fill their field of view. The screen is rear-projected so that people can stand close without casting shadows on the computer imagery.

 

The display is stereoscopic, similar to 3D movies. The technology we use is polarized stereoscopy. Two projectors display different images, one for the left eye and one for the right eye.  The projectors have different polarizing filters, and viewers wear matching polarized glasses to see the 3D effect.

 

A six-degree-of-freedom tracking system is used in VR systems to allow the computer to know where things (such as the user’s head & hand) are, allowing direct physical interaction with the virtual world, rather than having interaction mediated by a button/menu/etc GUI. In our case, we won’t be tracking the head (which normally is used to draw the graphics from the tracked person’s viewpoint), since several people will be viewing the display simultaneously, so we will use a fixed viewpoint for the graphics.  We will use the trackers to allow 2 or 3 people to fly the kites – the ends of the virtual strings will be attached to the physical trackers, which the people can move around in 3D.

 

The sound for the piece is music by Tom Johnson. The music is dynamic – it plays in response to the motion of the kites, as manipulated by the viewers. The kites themselves involve a physics simulation known as a “mass-spring model”.  Each kite is treated as a mesh of points; the points are affected by physical forces such as wind and gravity, as well as a “spring force” that keeps the kite together as a single surface.  The earlier versions of the piece used supercomputers to perform detailed simulations of the kites, with the data being streamed back to the VR system over high-speed networks.  As

we don’t have such resources for this installation, a much simplified  version of the simulation will be running on the single Linux PC in the gallery. The motion of the simplified kites will still look very similar, just with less detail, and perhaps less realistic (although this is not likely to be apparent to most viewers).

 

The whole VR Installation consists  of 2 or 3 PCs (one with a high-end “gaming quality” graphics card), an electromagnetic tracking system, 2 projectors, polarizing  filters and glasses, a special polarizing-preserving screen, and speakers.  We assembled the system ourselves at UB from these parts; some companies sell similar systems pre-packaged, but for a lot more money.

 

 

Dave Pape

Assistant Professor

Media Study, University at Buffalo

Jackie Matisse's biography and CV

Born in France, Jackie Matisse lived in New York until 1954.  Since then she has lived in Paris making frequent visits to New York.  Between 1959 and 1968 she worked for Marcel Duchamp, completing the assemblage of the “Boite en Valise”.  At this time using her married name, Jacqueline Monnier, she began to make kites “in order to play with color and line in the sky”.  In 1980 she showed kites which were created to be used underwater at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, and since then has continued to make kitelike objects intended for three different kinds of space: the sky, the sea, and indoor space, all linked through her use of movement.

 In collaboration with Molly Davies, filmmaker and David Tudor, composer, she created two videos on her underwater and sky work.  In the 1980’s she collaborated with David Tudor composer and musician. She just had a comprehensive show of her work at the Mengei International Museum in San Diego, California, U.S.A.

ONE PERSON EXHIBITIONS

2005          New Art Volant, Zone Chelsea Gallery, New York, N.Y

2002          Art Flying In and Out of Space, Virginia Tech’s Perspective Gallery and      Virginia Tech Virtual Reality Cave, Blacksburg Virginia,  April-May 2002.  In collaboration with the University of Illinois at Chicago.Mountain Lake Workshop, April 2002 with Ray Kass, director.    

2001          First event Echigo  Triennale, August 2001, Sponsored by  Art Front Gallery, Tokyo Japan

2000          Art that Soars, Mengei International Museum, San Diego, Ca. , U.S.A.

1999          Kitetail Cocktail, Goldie Paley Gallery, Philadelphia, Pa. U.S.A.

1998          Jacqueline Matisse Monnier Kiallitasa,Bartok 32 Galéria, Budapest, Hungary

1998          The World’s Most Beautiful Automobile, Milan, Italie   , commission of ‘Wand’ a prize for Mr. Giovanni Agnelli.

1993          Magic Hair & Bottled Dreams,Galerie Satellite, Paris, France.

1988          Installation:Elle est rouge la petite fleur bleue, Musée Saint Roch, Issoudun, France.

1987          Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris, France

1985          Joan Mirò Foundation, Barcelona, Spain.

1984          Mobilis in Mobile, exhibition and air and underwater performance, Galeria Cadaquès, Spain.

                   Tangled Tails, performance and exhibition, Atelier Arc-en-ciel, Brest, France.

1982               Exposition à Poils, Samy Kinge Gallery, Paris, France

                   Ephemeral Gameswith performance, Galeria Cadaquès, Spain.

                   Underwater Kites and Moving Pieces, Anne Berthoud Gallery, London, England.

1981          The Traveling Exhibition, with performance, Philadelphia Museum       of Art, Philadelphia Pa. U.S.A.

1980          Works Underwater and in Space, Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, N.Y., U.S.A.

1976          Kites, a Summer Celebration, with performance, ICA, London, England.

                   Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris, France.

1975          Formes d’Air et de Mouvement  Musée des Sables d’Olonne, France.

  • 9 Kite Tails Alexander Iolas Gallery, Paris, France.

GROUP SHOWS

 2005         La Légèreté,Galerie Pixi, Paris, France

                   IS&T/SPIE International Symposium, Electronic Imaging 2005, January     San Jose, California, Presentation of Art Volant dans l’espaceet ailleursby Dave Pape.  No sound.

2004         Set for Cunningham Ballet Co. Joyce Theater, New York. NY

Festival International des Cerfs-Volants, Dieppe, France

 

Shaped by the Wind : Kites, The Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York

 

 

2003          Art Volant dans l’espace et ailleurs, presentation of a collaborative project of kites flying in virtual reality, with interactive sound by Tom Johnson; Nicéphore Days, ENSAM, Chalon-sur-Saône, France

 

Pour le Vacuovélodrome of Alfred Jarry, Nicéphore Days, ENSAM, Chalon-

                   Sur-Saône, France, 11 Kitetails

                   60 Poux du Ciel,Nicéphore Days, Espace des Arts, Chalon-sur-Saône, France.

Wabi Sabi in the West, A.V.C. Contemporary Arts Gallery, NY, New York

2002          Le Japon Mystérieux,Galerie Satellite, Paris, France

1997          Odeurs…Une Odyssée,Passage de Retz, Paris, France.

                   From one point to another, L’Atelier Soardi, Nice, France.

                   10 Jours d’Art Contemporain, Chateau de Nemours, Nemours, France.

1996          Happy End,Galerie Satellite, Paris France.

1995          First Symposium of Art Volant, Foundation Pilar i Joan Miro, Mallorca, Spain

1994          WeathervanesMusée Matisse, Le Cateau-Cambrésis, France.

                   Singuliers de L’art  Galerie 2000, Paris, France.

1993          Drawing Sounds; An Installation in Honor of John Cage,  by William Anastasi, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pa. U.S.A.

                   Rolywholyover      A Circusby John Cage,The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, The Menil Collection, Houston, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, Art Tower Mito, Japan.

                   They quoted Matisse, Galerie de France, Paris, France.

                   Qu’est-ce que j’ai fabriqué?  Qu’est-ce que je n’ai pas fabriqué?

                   Jean Dupuy, Galerie Donguy, Paris, France;

1991          Le Musée Miniature, Galerie Pixi & Cie, Paris, France.

                   Les artistes décident de jouer, Association Campredon Art & Culture,

                   L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, France.

                   Zero Gravity, Art Advisory Service MOMA at City Bank, Long Island City, New York, U.S.A.

1990          Art, Culture et Foi, Galerie St. Séverin, Paris, France.

                   Art that Flies, with Curt Asker and Tal Streeter. The Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.A.

                   Sixième Rencontre Internationale de Cerfs Volants, Dieppe, France.

1988          Festival des Ailes et de l’Espace, with performance, Centre d’Actions Culturelles, St Médard en Jalles, Bordeaux, France.

                   Lost and Found, The Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, Pa. U.S.A1987   

FIAC, Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris.

1986          XXXI Salon de Montrouge, Montrouge, France.

                   Inspiration comes from Nature, Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, N.Y.,       U.S.A.

                   Like Kites, MOMA, New York, N.Y., U.S.A.

1985          Plein Vent, A.R.E.A., Baie de Somme,France.

                   R.O.R..  Evening for the “Revue Parlée” with C. Asker, E. Ferrer,         Y. Tono, H. Mathews.  Presentation of her seven minute video film with David Tudor “Tailing a dream” and performance. Centre Pompidou, Paris, France.

1984          Underwater, Plymouth Arts Center, Plymouth, England.

1983          Fliegende Bilder, Fliegende Plastik, with performance, Föhr, Germany.

1982          Coup de Vent dans la Prairie, Atelier d’A., with performance, Caen, France.

1981          Drachen, Landesmuseum, Bonn, Germany.

1980          Group Show, Heath Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A..

                   Christmas Show, Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, U.S.A.

                   Métiers d’Art, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France.

1979          Sculptures pour le ciel, Maison de la Culture, Rennes, France.

                   Messages pour l’espace, Centre d’actions culturelles de Sceaux, with performance, Sceaux, France.

1978          Kite Festival, Plaine de la Belle Etoile, Vincennes, France.

1977          Boites, ARC, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France.

                   Artistes-Artisans, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France.

                   Pays, Visage de Vent, La Chartreuse de Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, with performance, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, France.

                   La Boutique Aberrante de Daniel Spoerri, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.

                   Flags, Banners and Kites, Allied Arts Foundation, Seattle Wa. U.S.A.

1976          Vos Papiers, SVP, Musée des Sables d’Olonne, France.

                   Images pour le Ciel, Festival d’automne, exhibition and audiovisuel installation, Paris, France1975           Coup de Vent, with performance, Montrouge, Franc1974   Grandes Femmes, Petits Formats, Iris Clert Gallery, Paris, France.

1975          Coup de Vent, with performance, Montrouge, France 1974.

                   Grandes Femmes, Petits Formats, Iris Clert Gallery, Paris


IN COLLABORATION WITH DAVID TUDOR

2000          Sounds & Files, Kunstlehaus ,Vienna, Exposition of David Tudor’s sound table.

1990          Volatils and Sonic Reflections, Neue Musik München Klang Aktionen 90. Munich, Germany.

                   Volatils with Sonic Reflections, Jack Tilton Gallery, New York,N.Y., U.S.A.

1988          Lines and Reflections II, Rheinischen Musikfest, Kunstacademie, Düsseldorf, Germany.

                   Lines and Reflections I, performance with David Tudor, The Kitchen, New York,N.Y., U.S.A.

1986          Sound Totem, 9 Lines, performance with David Tudor and Molly Davies, Whitney Sculpture Court, New York, N.Y., U.S.A.

1985          R.O.R. evening for the Revue Parlée with C. Asker, E.Ferrer, Y. Tono, H. Mathews, Centre Pompidou Paris, France. Accompanied by Jackie Matisse’s production of a 7 minute video film called “Tailing a Dream“. Music David Tudor, camera Andy Ferullo and Molly Davies.

1984          Sea Tails, video installation,  Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.

1984          Sea Tails,David Tudor concert, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden.

1983          Sea Tails, David Tudor concert, Music Festival, Lugano, Italy.

1983          Sea Tails, video installation, with Molly Davies, and David Tudor, Frankfort, Germany.

PUBLICATIONS

2000          Art that Soars, Kites and Tails by Jackie Matisse, Exhibition Documentary Publication, Mengei International Museum, San Diego, Ca; U.S.A.

1997               The Blue Book,by Jackie Matisse, Editions de l’Onde

1996          Cerfs-Volants L’art en Ciel, Editions Alternatives Eric et Marc Domage

1991          Art That Flies, avec Curt Asker et Tal Streeter. The Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio.

1980          Water Story,Reaktion, Verlag galerie Leaman

Related:
Heads and Tails by Jackie Matisse

JACKIE MATISSE

Heads and Tails: Hommage to Merce
September 24 - November 20, 2009
Jackie Matisse, "New Art Volant", Installation view

JACKIE MATISSE: New Art Volant

May 26 - June 24, 2005
Jackie Matisse Kites Flying in and out of space

Jackie Matisse at Virtuality Conference in Turin, Italy

with Dave Pape and Josephine Anstey
November 3 - 6, 2005
Sculpture Magazine on Jackie Matisse

SCULPTURE MAGAZINE review on Jackie Matisse

"Jackie Matisse: Collaborations in Art and Science", November 2006

Categories: projects

Tags:

JACKIE MATISSE

Heads and Tails: Hommage to Merce

I am proud to present Jackie Matisse’s Heads and Tails: Hommage to Merce, her second solo show at ZONE: CONTEMPORARY ART. The exhibition encompasses a wide range of her art–her signature kites, assemblages, memory bottles, and works on paper–and features a unique re-imagining of her theater design for the late choreographer Merce Cunningham. Jackie Matisse’s work is an exploration of movement. Her hand-painted, kinetic mobiles may be anchored to “points in space,” to borrow a phrase from Merce, but they defy gravity, flying on ambient currents of air. The principle of fluidity, of metamorphosis, is a touchstone of a particular strain of modernism. Merce’s collaborators– John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol, among others-retained creative autonomy: music, visual elements, and choreography came together only with their first performance. The improvisational process continued when the different work were recombined in Events and Happenings.

 

In honor of this intuitive and open-ended ethos, Jackie Matisse has reinstalled her décor for Merce (Events, Joyce Theater, 2004) in the main gallery. Usually, Jackie exhibits the eccentrically shaped, sometimes sculptural heads and banner-like tails of her kites separately. ZONE is offering a rare opportunity to see the richly colored 26-feet-high kites, as the mysterious, totemic figures whose fluttering movements interacted with the human performers. Gallery visitors can use artist-painted fans to stir up the air currents and bring the tableau to life. They will experience the art in a new way: not as a stage picture from the audience’s perspective, but moving through the floating heads and tails, like dancers. The ZONE installation becomes an Event, in which the décor from a repertory piece is adapted to a particular space and occasion. Jackie also flies her kites in a form of performance art that celebrates the chance operations of nature, using what she calls “the canvas of the sky” to create “Art Volant” (flying art). Jackie recalls “listening to and watching Merce trying out new ideas and rhythms” and experiencing his performances as a dancer: “like an explosion of legs, arms, chest, head, flying over the stage, advancing then retreating.” This rhythm, the tension of coil and release, governs the dynamism of dancers and kite-flyers.

 

Capturing the ephemeral is part of an important modernist tradition, a tradition that Jackie Matisse knows intimately. Growing up in Paris and New York among artists, she assisted her stepfather, Marcel Duchamp, in assembling his portable museum, the Boite-en-Valise, and has worked with artists from many disciplines throughout her career. Jean Tinguely was another mentor, and the influence of Tinguely’s motorized contraptions can be seen in Jackie’s low-tech clockworks to mechanically operate her kites in the indoor spaces. Continuing the magpie-collecting habits of the Surrealists, the Fluxus artists and John Cage, she finds unexpected resonance in objets trouvés. She uses broken ceramic shards as both stencils for flat shapes and assemblage pieces. The most haunting of these works are her memory bottles, temporal reliquaries in which she suspends tiny, personally significant objects and fragments, literally capturing time in a bottle.  Often, she uses single strands of hair from friends and family to string these fetishes, which have the evocative power of Voodoo spirit flasks. Like kite strings, such threads simultaneously tether us to the earth, the past and our physical beings while allowing our imaginations to soar.

 

Jennifer Baahng

September 24 – November 20, 2009

 

 

Opening reception:

Thursday September 24th, 2009

6-8pm

 

The elegiac freedom and sweep of Jackie Matisse’s work is about movement and a floating lightness, which is particularly poignant as a tribute to the life of Merce Cunningham. 

 

Evanescent as dance, using the most ephemeral materials, Jackie Matisse has reversed the artist’s painterly color exploration by breaking down the prismatic color field, to send her canvas aloft into the sky to be viewed against light. Using the kite as her medium, her work takes its place within the binary poles of folk craft and the mythic and soars into the experimental.

 

“Heads and Tails” refers to the two parts of the kite. If the head, the kite itself, functions as a canvas and color field, it is the focus of her manipulation of sunlight in all its transformative possibilities: from transparency and shading to total occlusion. On the other hand, the tails of the kites, serving both as rudders and anchors, in Jackie Matisse’s hands are transformed into complex mobiles.  In “Vacuovelodrome d’Alfred Jarry” (2003), four tails of white sailcloth with shadows and moons come together in a pas de deux and form an exacting and surprising dance. Whereas the grey fiber kites “Poux du Ciel” (2004), made in multiples for Merce’s performance, evoke a different type of movement, with bicycle tire prints running over and through the painted surfaces and giving a visual clue to speed and distance covered.         Wind driven, the kite’s flying line connects the human hand with the elements; her work joins the physical and spiritual. In the Middle East and Asia, the kite takes the form of both real and mythic creatures—insects, birds, fish, reptiles, as well as dragons and angels—linking them to the forces of the elements with all their cosmic implications.

 

Jackie Matisse, like the Conceptualists and Flexus artists, turned away from making art as a commercial commodity. In 1970 she became associated with an international group of visual artists who used kites and related airborne objects in their work and later proclaimed the Art Volant Manifesto emphasizing the use of simple unorthodox material with works that were immediate, accidental and transitory. They viewed kiting as participatory, kinetic performance art.  As seen in “9 jours de trottoirs” (1980), the collection of haphazard detritus taken from the sidewalk over nine days is transformed by the artist into the materials of tails and exhibited along with two collage boxes. These works are in contrast to the time element implied by her “New York bottles” (1999-2005), which use found objects representing a person, place, or event and are tied by a single hair, immersed in liquid, and sealed.  In these works her economical use of the humblest materials—feathers, newspaper, string, and orange peels—come together to somehow form an almost alchemical kind of visual poetry.

 

She constantly pushed her work into other elements, as when she submerged her kites. This work is the subject of the 1984 video “Sea Tails” and the 1985 video “Tailing a Dream” by Molly Davies, with a score by David Tudor, in which the underwater motion of kites made of sailcloth alternates with their airborne counterparts. But perhaps one of Jackie Matisse’s most extraordinary experiments was exploring the physical properties of flying kites in virtual reality, with audience participation. In collaboration with David Pape, Jackie Matisse created “Kites Flying In and Out of Space” (2005), a flat screen, interactive, stereoscopic installation that pushed her work into supercomputing and virtual reality.        Among all its aesthetic properties, the kite in perpetual random motion is always an object of chance, which particularly interested Jackie Matisse and its connection to the work of John Cage and Merce Cunningham. Chance, a subject of preoccupation ever since the poet Mallarmé’s illuminating: “A throw of the dice will not abolish Fate.” In memory of Merce she presents a group of painted mobiles in shades of grey, midnight blue, brown, and dark burgundy; three mobiles of illuminated blue broken moons offer a celebration of his life.

 

Her affinity with and curiosity about the intervention of chance and randomness is a bond she shared with Merce Cunningham, so eloquently presented in this exhibition. Jackie Matisse has not only inherited a master’s sense of color and form, but also the ability to transform her material and ideas into a completely personal world view. A world supported by wind and light, and informed with the illumination of poetry.

 

Charles Ruas, 2009

 

Related:
Heads and Tails by Jackie Matisse

JACKIE MATISSE

Heads and Tails: Hommage to Merce
September 24 - November 20, 2009
Jackie Matisse, "New Art Volant", Installation view

JACKIE MATISSE: New Art Volant

May 26 - June 24, 2005
Jackie Matisse Kites Flying in and out of space

Jackie Matisse at Virtuality Conference in Turin, Italy

with Dave Pape and Josephine Anstey
November 3 - 6, 2005
Sculpture Magazine on Jackie Matisse

SCULPTURE MAGAZINE review on Jackie Matisse

"Jackie Matisse: Collaborations in Art and Science", November 2006

Categories: projects

Tags: