Rollin Leonard, ‘'Water Lens, Wave: B3' 18 frames’, 2014, Transfer Gallery

To date, Rollin Leonard's work has been a systematic exploration of the human body's digital afterlife. His photographed subjects are submitted to all kinds of algorithmic tortures, their limbs disjoined from one another or repeated indefinitely to create compositions that are abstract yet still recognizably humanoid. For Leonard, it is important that some semblance of the body remain visible in the final product, whether we see it splintered into a thousand pieces over the course of a GIF or are able to recognize a stray eyeball in the gridded masses of his sculptural installations.

In his new series, 'Water Lens, Wave', Leonard abandons the harsh angularity for which he is known in favor of more organic forms; he has essentially moved from a mechanics of solids to a mechanics of fluids. Each individual piece is an exercise in liquid imagery and is produced through an elaborate photographic process. A sheet of glass is interposed between Leonard’s face and the camera; the glass itself is coated with a water-repellent mask; and when liquid is released onto the glass pane, it is pushed into particular shapes and spatial trajectories based on the specific pattern employed by the artist. Leonard’s face is not only distorted beneath the fluid substance, but is diffracted in a highly controlled and dynamic fashion. Some of the resultant forms more obviously bear witness to their watery origins, while others are so thin and labile that their movements are likely to evoke a stereo waveform or the vital signs of a hospital monitor.

The pieces are infinitely looped, stop-motion animations; each frame is a different photograph of the liquid in the course of its progress. The waves are vertically oriented in the tradition of portraiture. Occasionally one can see eyes and a mouth that bracket the fleshy squiggle gyrating across the screen; at other times the artist has simply become an enormously elongated snout. The flattened and photographed body re-enters the organic world in a drastically altered form.

With Droplet Wave, Leonard continues to push his practice in exciting new directions while also pushing the limits of current technology: in this case, the repurposing of a simple hydrophobic spray.

The unique pieces in this series, which are titled for their place in the grid – Water Lens, Wave: 2B, Water Lens, Wave: 4C, and so on – are sold individually or can be collected at the debut at Moving Image as a complete set of twelve. Collectors receive the individual looped moving image in 1080p and 4K video formats, along with the looped moving image grid, delivered on a custom engraved USB drive.

This series is part of a new body of work that will culminate in a 2015 transatlantic exhibition opening simultaneously in NYC at TRANSFER, in Paris at XPO Gallery and on the Internet at Cloaque.org.

About Rollin Leonard