Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
“Things That Float” featured five works of considerable panache, all incorporating a variety of industrial materials and technological devices. Selected for the regional award of “Emerging Artist of the Year,” Gregory Witt, a recent MFA graduate from Carnegie Mellon University, presented a cohesive body of work, with each piece attaining a distinctive character.
Room (2010) filled a gallery with a jury-rigged yet elegant system of ladders, drive belts, gears, and motors. Though securely configured, the ungainly contraption was surprisingly fragile in places, with large gears and some structural members cut from sheets of drywall so vulnerable that they could be nicked by a fingernail. As the motors slowly turned the gears, the considerable mass of the piece shifted— heavy ropes raising and lowering suspended clusters of concrete blocks. The assembly included industrial objects (aluminum ladders, concrete blocks), manufactured materials used as intended (rope, plywood and two-by-fours, PVC, and steel pipe), and manufactured materials employed to unexpected ends (sculpted drywall). Aluminum ladders encircled the impressive central mass of wood and drywall, radiating outward with suspended cinderblocks. A carefully designed system of gears and motors generated a soundscape of whirring and creaking, creating a kinetic experience as soothing or unsettling as a rocking boat, depending on one’s reaction. Essentially an aesthetic and perceptual experience, Room also offered the satisfaction of contemplating the interplay of material, form, and function…see the entire review in the print version of September’s magazine.