The Fussy Eye: No Sparks

A science fair at the Henry.

A watched polyhedron never boils. Or something like that. There's a lot of theory behind Lucy Pullen's metal and glass sculptures in The Cloud Chamber and Related Works (say hello to Alain Badiou). And supposedly some science, though it seems more conjectural than experimental. In the lobby is a mock-up for a "spark chamber" that might—at some exhibit in the future, when you can buy another ticket—contain inert gas that would react with cosmic rays. Surrounding it on the walls are faint, blue-on-white seascapes that should look familiar, since Pullen lives just up the coast on Vancouver Island. But the room, like the hypothetical gas, feels inert. Two levels down in the east gallery are Pullen's pair of stainless-steel polyhedrons, about knee-high, that suggest kitchen appliances from the 23rd century. One is empty (yet another mock-up), the other contains a cosmic-ray detector, which functions like a solar oven without sunlight. Peer into the top (the burner?) and, lit by tiny LEDs, the moist surface seems to simmer and steam. Mad science this is not. Where are the sparks, the sizzle, the laboratory excitement of a Tesla coil? Nowhere to be seen. Look around and see still more of those dim blue drawings, rendered in non-repro ink (as if you'd want to copy them). Meanwhile, outdoors, the clouds overhead are actually moving and changing, unlike Pullen's airless exhibition. 

 
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