COS × STUDIO SWINE
MIAMI, DECEMBER 2017
In partnership with Design Miami/ 2017, COS has collaborated with London-based artists Studio SWINE to restage New Spring, an interactive multisensory installation that was first unveiled at this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan.
Housed in The Temple House, an iconic art deco building in Miami Beach, the installation presents ephemeral materials in a strange new context; delicate mist-filled ‘blossoms’ that disappear on contact with skin, but can be held by visitors wearing special gloves. Producing these blossoms is the installation’s bold centrepiece, a tree-like sculpture that resonates with the iconic surrounds of The Temple House.
“New Spring is about renewal and rebirth, and this incarnation will reveal a completely new side of the installation. Set in the light-filled space of The Temple House, New Spring takes on the whimsical feeling of Miami itself: something uniquely playful that evokes the glamour of the Art Deco city by the sea.”
Studio Swine (Super Wide Inter-disciplinary New Explorers) is a collaboration between Japanese architect Azusa Murakami and British artist Alexander Groves. Exploring themes of regional identity and the future of resources in the context of globalisation, their work has gained an international audience having been exhibited at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Venice Biennale.
Alongside the installation, Studio Swine have designed a temporary store on the mezzanine level of The Temple House. With a sculptural rail system inspired by New Spring, the store features a hand-chosen edit of womenswear and menswear pieces.
6 – 10 December 2017
The Temple House
1415 Euclid Avenue
Friday and Saturday 11am–7pm
In a special commission to mark the arrival of New Spring at Design Miami/, artist and curator Melanie King explores the concept and anatomy of bubbles through the lens of art history, science and metaphor…
Have you ever stopped to watch a soap bubble float through the air? For a few fleeting moments you see a rainbow on the surface, glinting spots of light and merged reflections. Then, all of a sudden, the bubble pops out of existence.
In the physical world, air pressure on Earth is exactly balanced so that a soap bubble can exist for a short amount of time before succumbing to gravity and the lack of moisture in its surroundings. The swirling colours that remind us of the bands of Jupiter are actually created by the interplay of light on the soap bubble film at varying thicknesses.
Due to their instability, bubbles are universally known for their tendency to pop without warning. Ripe for metaphor, soap bubbles were often used in the dramatic Vanitas paintings of the 17th Century as a symbol for the transitory nature of life. In fact, the great Dutch artists of the Golden Age believed that the bubble’s true beauty owed to its ephemerality. In creating these still lives of perishable objects such as fruit, flowers, skulls and of course, bubbles, the artists’ intention was to remind the viewer of the brevity of life. These medieval works exemplify the influential theory of ‘memento mori’, a latin phrase which translates to ‘Remember You Will Die’. This idea may appear morbid, particularly to a modern audience, but the bubble is probably one of the more romantic ‘memento mori’ symbols. Essentially its depiction says, while it is important to consider how we spend our time, it is better to appreciate the preciousness and beauty that life offers instead of dwelling on our own mortality.
Moving forward to the 20th century, a number of modern artists used soap bubbles in their artwork as a visual metaphor for celebrating the brevity of existence. In the 1960s, artist David Medalla created Cloud Canyons, huge biokinetic sculptures using towers of foam which continually changed and deconstructed over time. Similarly Michael Blazy created the installation Bouquet Final, which consisted of soap bubbles descending down the wall of a Medieval French church. Here, the bubbles contrast poetically with the permanence of the surrounding site.
At Design Miami ⁄, Studio Swine’s New Spring follows this historic tradition in a contemporary exploration of the bubble. Providing a unique alternative to our usual experience of bubbles, visitors will be able to handle falling mist-filled bubbles with the help of gloves. Metaphors of transience continue throughout the design; the bubbling tree is inspired by the Japanese cherry, celebrated for its ephemeral blossom. Suspended against a stark white void, New Spring’s planet-like orbs create an other-worldly experience. As the bubbles pop, tiny galaxies of mist emerge.
With powerful new telescopes such as the Hubble, we have discovered celestial bubbles existing in outer space. For example, in the constellation Cassiopeia there is a Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) which measures over six light-years across, having been blown by cosmic winds. Contemporary cosmologists have even described our universe as an ever-expanding bubble with inflation theory. In his book “Why does the universe exist?” philosopher Jim Holt also suggests that our universe is just one cosmic bubble amongst a sea of cosmic foam. As he puts it, “our universe – the one that suddenly popped into existence some 14 billion years ago – bubbled out of the space-time of a pre-existing universe”. Here, Holt is suggesting that our universe itself is a giant orb, emerging just like a bubble in a bathtub.
For centuries, artists have compared the existence of life to the everyday phenomena of the bubble. Now, with advanced space telescopes and pioneering ideas from cosmologists and philosophers, we can draw more even comparisons. In helping us to understand our existence, both perspectives teach us to value life, using our precious time to create as many unique and joyful experiences as possible.
Text by Melanie King
Melanie King is a London-based artist and curator with a specific focus on science and astronomy: her most recent thesis explored the use of bubbles as a metaphor in art, philosophy and the natural sciences. Currently studying for a practice based PhD in Fine Art at the Royal College of Art, Melanie is also co-Director of creative agency super/collider, Lumen Studios and the London Alternative Photography Collective.