The show features 100,000 roses as well as a number of multi-media experiences.
Linda Ronstadt always said, “Love is a rose, but you better not pick it”. For NYC-based artist Sarah Meyohas, not only does she pick the rose, she picked several hundred and pulled them apart, right down to the individual petals. The inherent femininity of the rose is unquestionable- roses have been symbols for ages. But, here, the rose petal serves as a post-human token, a symbol of the future; fulfilling their ascribed timelessness.
Meyohas’ hook comes from the sixteen poeple that assisted her in the project. They needed to determine which rose petals were most beautiful, an inherently subjective choice, but also, more centrally, they had to convince themselves any of the petals were potentially beautiful to begin with. It’s human participation. Its about freedom of bias, but certainly not from bias. The efforts of these men resulted in the harvest of a critical data set of nearly 100,000 unique rose petals that would define the foundation of an artificial intelligence algorithm capable of creating new, unique petals forever. Meyohas work has become an interesting time capsule of its own. On the premise humans will no longer find roses beautiful in the future, Meyohas work may be troubling down the line. Why was so much made of these rose petals? These are not beautiful. In this way, Meyohas is making a critique more on the value of roses than their beauty.
Meyohas has always involved herself in data collection, but this was a new level for her. With the many thousands of petals assembled in their resplendent beauty, she presents them in a variety of formats for the show. For Cloud of Petals, 3,289 of the preserved rose petals are fashioned into a mosaic at Red Bull Arts New York. The artist’s 30-minute film is also being screened. Its a look at the performance art piece shot (the data collection) at Bell Labs. Meyohas integrates an infinity mirror, a device she’s employed throughout her practice, as an infinite call and response where the boundaries of time and space seem unending. Lastly, visitors encounter the exhibition’s VR component: a series of gaze-based experiences that manipulates this organic data set for the viewer’s pleasure, featuring new, uniquely generated petals using AI and the 100,000 picture data set.
There is no question that Sarah Meyohas understands the moments of art that can have lasting implications but the long term story is even richer: how do biases play into the way data is collected and distributed? The robot must be programmed by a human. Meyohas is addressing serious concerns about our future in the most beautiful way possible.
Sarah Meyohas – Cloud of Petals
October 12th – December 10, 2017
Red Bull Arts New York
220 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011