Blastr, the drone art film specialist, has made innovative portraits of our sculptures with drones, working with Emily Rund, the Tippet Rise videographer, and Monte Nickles, our audio choreographer, who understands the way music corresponds to the images. Drones fly under the arches of the Domo, up the heights of Proverb, zigzag around the French curves and Möbius strip of Beethoven’s Quartet, imitate the whorls and weaves of Daydreams, dissect the lattices of Pioneer. The drones imitate what the eye does, the angles which are projected invisibly outward from the roller-coaster loops of the sculptures’ de Chirico parallelograms.
Like a flashlight whose beam continues into space, sculptures have diagonals like those in Velasquez’s Infanta, Dali’s Velasquez, and Delacroix’s Liberty, which suggest invisible lines to the eye as it cuts across the canvas or across the space of the sculpture.
For instance, the large whorl on top of Beethoven’s Quartet spins the eye around and hurls it into the universe with a simulation of the curvature of space. The sculptor, Mark di Suvero, has studied Einsteinian theories of space and time all his life, and is compressing the orbits of the planets, the ovoid precession of their elliptic paths around the sun, into the curves and whirls of his girders and stencils. Unbending steel, he has bent them with sheer force into the smooth arcs and parabolas of the solar wind, the trajectories of comets as their orbits are bent by the mass of the stars they pass. Space is not only curved but warped, like a Klein bottle, which has only one surface but holds water. It folds in on itself, like space.
A drone’s point of view gives the two-dimensions of length width the third dimension of height, making a more accurate representation of volumes. And by moving through these dimensions, it conveys motion, the energy of the universe, which creates and sustains the dimensions we see.
A drone imitates the torque, the spiral, the centrifugal force of di Suvero’s whorls; it flies straight out to the boundaries of sight at which di Suvero’s girders point. Or the constellations at which Proverb launches its verticals. Sculptures have many bother functions, but one of their major declarations is to foreshadow, to augur. With its rusting Industrial Revolution beams, Beethoven’s Quartet revolves through space like a Corellian freighter, heaving and pitching at warp speed, the past directed at the future.
So a drone is a camera on a rocket, or a painter’s brush, following the strokes, reliving the creation of a drawing. As sculptures are paintings inflated into three dimensions, drones, by extending the angles suggested by girders or stickwork, give a visceral image of the space controlled by those angles.
That is, sculptures have an aura, a magnetosphere, a penumbra which extends beyond their physical bodies into the space into which those angles project. The sun’s radiation dominates the solar system, so the sun isn’t just an orb in its center. Its gravity and heat extend to the very edges of its neighborhood. Like a star projector, it projects a vaster world onto our small ceilings so we can appreciate the essences beyond the shadows we see.
These immanences, these prominences, these solar flares travel at different speeds. Some are instantaneous, like energy exchanges which flash across a galaxy in a second. Some are slow reveals, the way the shadow of the earth precesses along the curve of the sun during a solar eclipse. Some music is Jerry Lee Lewis, all glissandos, while Handel’s stately water music takes the slow tempo of the tide of the Thames, which propelled the king’s barge up the river to Chelsea without rowing.
So wind whips up Proverb like a missile launch, and gyres around the Möbius strip of Beethoven’s Quartet like dust devil, but it slows down for the august proclamations of the oracular Domo, for the massive portcullises of the Portals.
Ideally we absorb a work of art at the tempo it suggests. We should linger in the Domo, understanding its necromantic Mastaba elegies, its dignity, its whiffs of eternity, wondering what its creators could mean by the Sanskrit-like etchings on its glazed Bernini cloak. We might also spend time inside the space station rooms of Pioneer, imagining the planets hovering outside its slatted windows. We want to take time tracing the weavings of early civilizations which Patrick Dougherty evokes with his Cro-Magnon beehives, spend time in the schoolhouse with its ghostly students, gather in Francis Kéré’s Xylem, a replica of a toguna in the Dogon culture of Burkina Faso, where entire lives are lived: flirting, marriage, funerals.
Drones present us with an invitation to the dance; but sometimes it’s a slow dance. Drones magnify and accelerate directions, but they can also tilt and lap us through the lethargy of dreams. They intuit the artist’s intentions, they guess where the hawk’s gyres lead. They fly at the speed of the mind, and they loll like sloths in the trees. They paint the fourth dimension, the undulating Northern Lights, the backwards motion of the sky, as we rotate through the zodiac like a top.