Ara 244: The Other Ishihara Test-Winter
Dimensions: 25 x 25 x 2″
Media: three-dimensional, five-color lithographic
Matthew Shlian’s Ara 244: The Other Ishihara Test-Winter, 2016 uses the dark color of the paper to contribute to a sense of movement; black is often associated with absence or the unknown, but has been directed here by Shlian’s network of folds. Within the work, there is a strong sense of continuity, as it is difficult to discern a point of origin for the design. While Ara 244: The Other Ishihara Test-Winter, 2016 is definitively mathematical and linear, Shlian uses paper that has been marbled as if made from stone—juxtaposing the mathematical beside the organic in a way that contributes to the piece’s movement through a dynamic form of internal dialogue.
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