Assistant Professor, Designer, and Artist Clay Odom has been selected by the City of Austin's Cultural Arts Division to represent Austin, the first and only city in the United States with a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) Media Arts designation, in the international DATA CITY exhibition this April.
Hosted in the Paris suburb of Enghien-les-Bains, DATA CITY will feature the latest innovations in new media art from around the globe. It runs April 21 through July 13, and is held in conjunction with the 11th Annual Meeting of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Odom has been invited to exhibit his multimedia installation, Flowering Phantasm. The 6 x 10 foot interactive sculpture, which Odom says, “challenges notions of interactivity through formal, material, and temporal manipulations,” was initially exhibited at the 2016-2017 Amsterdam Light Festival. An exploration of light, color, and form, Flowering Phantasm is a pneumatic work, controlled by sophisticated computer-driven systems and fabricated using computer controlled machines. It is a perfect example of the highly technical and interdisciplinary experimentation commonly practiced in Austin.
“Receiving the UNESCO designation in 2015 was a tremendous honor for our City, and we are pleased to have Clay Odom represent Austin’s celebrated spirit of innovation at this global event,” said Meghan Wells, Manager of Austin’s Cultural Arts Division. “This exhibition, and other collaborations with our UNESCO Creative Cities partners, is an important platform for communicating the global progress and expanse of media arts.”
Designed by Odom’s studioMODO, with media and programming completed in collaboration with fellow Austinite Sean O'Neill, Flowering Phantasm is an intricate assemblage of 400 anodized gold “petals” covered in over 3000 feet of LED fiber “hairs.” A series of inflatable petals, which are parametrically programmed with modeling software, expand and contract via an internal network of micro-blowers. Over 40 individual LED light sources, controlled with an internal computer, illuminate the object from within. The work invites and engages passersby. It captures external stimuli including movement, light and sound, and literally processes that information through the object, generating new sensory experiences and interactions. Like a flower in bloom, it beckons viewers to interact with it, but remains elusive, a phantasm that defies exact reference.
“This installation,” explains Odom, “explores how work is conceptualized, designed, and fabricated in our contemporary world. The project is designed to provoke contemplation of the complex relationships between people, space, nature, and technology—as they are and as they can be—and hopefully produces a sense of wonder and delight in the process .”
DATA CITY opens in Enghien-les-Bains on April 21 and runs through July 13, 2017. Other participating “Media Arts” cities include Tel-Aviv Jaffa, Dakaar, Gwangju, Linz, Lyon, Sapporo, York, and Enghien-les-Bains. The exhibition is curated by Emmanuel Cuisinier. A bilingual catalogue (French/English) will be published in June 2017.
View a video of "Flowering Phantasm" on display at the Amsterdam Light Festival.
UNESCO Creative Cities
The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. The 116 cities which currently make up this network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.