GNOMONICS is a multilayered installation conceived and executed for the Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College. The visiting artist and educator Jan Tichy is inviting students and faculty to a creative dialogue with the work throughout the 2017/18 academic year. The installation’s title derives from the word “gnomon” - the part of a sundial that casts a shadow - reflecting the artist’s interest in the measurement of time, its divisions, and its markers. Incorporating video projection, screen prints, gravel drawings and works from the Museum’s collection, the project imagines the museum as a sundial or a time machine. The installation is realized in three distinct spaces: the sunlight-bathed Pfeiffer Wing, an outdoor gravel terrace adjacent to the gallery’s windows, and the windowless second-floor gallery.
The crescent-shaped Pfeiffer Wing boasts eighteen floor-to-ceiling windows, which, while architecturally striking, prevent light-sensitive objects from being exhibited in the space. Tichy envisions the Wing as a lens and uses it as an exposure chamber in which to hang twelve screen prints, composed of circular forms collected from different openings in the Museum’s architecture like windows, air vents and fire sprinklers. Each month, a number of prints are exchanged for new ones, so that in the final iteration of the exhibition each print has been exposed to sunlight for a different length of time. The prints are displayed alongside twelve historical Pennsylvania German clay crocks and two small works that are models for large public sculptures by Gladys Noble Wagner and Menashe Kadishman, whose curved forms echo Tichy’s prints and the architecture of the Berman. The gravel terrace encircling the gallery’s windows serves as the “dial” of the Museum, with a larger Kadishman sculpture as the gnomon. There, gravel drawings will be the basis for creative conversations between the artist and Ursinus faculty and students.
Finally, the light in the Pfeiffer Wing is “collected” into a twelve-minute video projected in the second-floor gallery, where Japanese scrolls from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are on view. The now-artificial light from the video, captured at dawn, midday, and dusk, illuminates the scrolls, which are too sensitive to be shown in a normal gallery setting. The effect is a collaboration between old and new media that encapsulates a generous vision of cross-cultural, cross-temporal formal affinities and material intentions.