In this ART21-produced special feature, artist Kimsooja collaborates with scientists and nanotechnologists to create an iridescent steel and polymer sculpture for the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, NY. Developed in collaboration with architect Jaeho Chong and Cornell nano material engineer Ulirich Wiesner, Ph. D., the 46-foot-tall needle-shaped structure “A Needle Woman: Galaxy was a Memory, Earth is a Souvenir” (2014) is the result of the artist’s first-ever collaboration with scientists. “This tradition of bringing art and science together precedes modernism,” says Stephanie Owens, director of Cornell Council for the Arts. “So [Kimsooja] and [Wiesner] working at a similar interface related to light and objects was a definite continuation of this tradition.”
The sculpture’s plexi-glass panels are coated with an nano polymer film—molecularly engineered by Cornell materials scientists in Wiesner’s lab—to produce experiences inspired by naturally-occurring light phenomenon. “We use iridescence as a principle in order to mimic the effect of the butterfly wing,” says Wiesner.
“A Needle Woman: Galaxy was a Memory, Earth is a Souvenir” was created as part of the artist’s residency for the Cornell Council for the Arts 2014 Biennial. Learn more about the project at:
Kimsooja’s videos and installations blur the boundaries between aesthetics and transcendent experience through their use of repetitive actions, meditative practices, and serial forms. In many pieces, everyday actions—such as sewing or doing laundry—become two- and three-dimensional or performative activities. In videos that feature her in various personas (Needle Woman, Beggar Woman, Homeless Woman), she leads us to reflect on the human condition, offering open-ended perspectives through which she presents and questions reality.