Allison Leigh Holt, “A Living Model of Hyperbolic Space”, 2017 / 2020

The curled, frilly form of Parmotrema lichen is a natural example of the true shape of the space in which we find ourselves, so-called hyperbolic space. The shortest distance between two points, therefore, is never a straight line as we’re taught, but rather, a curved one. From a young age, Westerners learn to live within the city grid and to apply order to the not-quite-fixed world of natural forms and systems, an order that determines what’s normal and what is not. Our perceptions are also defined by our attachment to human scale. In this piece, the refractive property of water—within globes of hand-blown glass—acts as a lens, magnifying what lies behind it while projecting the moving image of what lies before it. The scale of these elements exaggerates the same phenomena as morning dew, clouds, and the water in the air we breathe. A Living Model of Hyperbolic Space offers a glimpse into neurodivergent sense perception, which, in the artist’s case, shifts or collapses perceptual scales. Its elements serve as devices for seeing through another way of knowing. (The lichen used in this piece was harvested in Northern California at Djerassi Artist Residency Program, with guidance from the California Lichen Society.) (A Living Model of Hyperbolic Space is composed of 20 hand-blown glass globes, filled with water and suspended from steel cantilevered mounts. Frilly, lichen-covered branches of wood—attached to the mounts with magnets—are magnified through the water-lenses, which also project the image of the surrounding environment onto the wall.)

Allison Leigh Holt, “A Living Model of Hyperbolic Space”, 2017 / 2020, Glass, water, steel, neodymium magnets, mirrored acrylic, Parmotrema Perlatum lichen, dimensions variable

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