Ara 244: The Other Ishihara Test- Murmur
Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 1″
Media: three-dimensional, five-color lithographic monoprint collage
In Matthew Shlian’s Ara 244: The Other Ishihara Test- Murmur, 2016, the word murmur is evocative of both memory and sensory information; murmur recalls a mother speaking to her child or the sound of someone whispering in your ear. Shlian contrasts these soft and often feminine images with the precision of his folded edges—juxtaposing the corporeal with the conceptual in a way that interjects intangible dimensionality beyond the sculpture’s immediate depth and visual cues.
Matthew Shlian’s work is derived from the intersectionality between art and science, where Shlian uses engineering skills and the aid of scientists at the University of Michigan to create intricate, geometric paper structures. While the process of executing each work is contingent upon precise measurements and a definitive degree of planning, Shlian describes that often, his final products are conceived from flaws that occur as the work is coming together. “Along the way something usually goes wrong and a mistake becomes more interesting than the original idea and I work with that instead. I’d say my starting point is curiosity; I have to make the work in order to understand it. If I can completely visualize my final result I have no reason to make it—I need to be surprised.” Shlian engages with paper in a way that imbues movement into a material often associated with two dimensionality; the finished products are kinetic both for their visual dynamics and in the way the folds physically projects from the background. Shlian works in a variety of colors, but often defaults to white—where the added flatness of the color encourages viewers to examine the work more closely and establish their own readings of the work’s depth.
by Keira Seidenberg