Katzen Arts Center, American University
Alan Binstock’s contemplative Zen garden of large-scale glass and steel sculptures in the courtyard of the Katzen Center translated abstract astrological and spiritual concepts into colorful visual form. Like much of Binstock’s sculpture, this new series draws on his training as yogi, architect, and facility planner for NASA and embodies a fascination with macro and micro visualizations of the universe. More specifically, these works were inspired by Charles and Ray Earmes’s 1968 film Powers of Ten, which has achieved cult status with the mathematics/scientific set. Illustrating the scale of the universe by factors of 10, the film begins with a one-square-meter, overhead view of a couple lying on a picnic blanket. The camera then zooms out to encompass the entire observable universe and then reverses scale, down to atom, proton, and finally quark. Binstock’s sweeping arcs, such as Terra-M and Mercator, evoke this vision of the vastness of space, while the small-scale Siblings and Parent and Child, composed of globes of seeping pigment suspended between sheets of glass plate, bring the focus down to the cellular level. Mercator refers to a 1569 cylindrical map projection, of the earliest conceptualizations of the Earth from space. Other works, such as Way Finder and Birth/Beginning, allude to astral imagery as seen by spaceship or satellite.
Binstock’s celestial blues, aquatic greens, yellows, and reds also seem to be drawn from familiar map schemes. Though the rainbow colors give a groovy 1960’s vibe to the work, a darker reading is also possible, considering how the red-tinged pigment on crushed glass can also evoke blood on ice crystals or the gruesome aftermath of a car collision. Resin forms the binder for the sheathed glass fragments, which are suspended on steel supports that provide formal tension and textural contrast. These constructions also serve as…see the entire review in the print version of July/August’s magazine.