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Smoke Clouds
tempered architectural glass, ultraviolet light, tin, silver nitrate, varnish, walnut wood
120 x 88 inches
2014-16

Smoke Clouds 2014

"In Smoke Clouds from 2014, I explored themes of disappearance through the shifting image within the material of silver nitrate (mirroring solution) poured onto large-scale architectural glass. My mirrored smoke clouds suspend an explosion-- the residue of violence after a moment of destruction. This process, like all my work, originated from the drawing gesture of my body and also requires blind intuition, as I move the clear liquid of silver nitrate gesturally with an air pressure wand onto the large glass to form a cloud. As a part of my process, I conducted research on glass properties with PPG Lab and consulted Ana Martins at MOMA conservation, on silver nitrate and archaic photographic processes. I began thinking of the glass as a kind of giant lens, or large photographic piece ofpaper as I exposed it to ultraviolet rays, upon which to receive and distort memory, before mirroring.  The full installation of Smoke Clouds simultaneously reflects the space and viewer. The mirror materiality allows the cloud image to appear and disappear as a 'puff of smoke,' depending on the environment and the viewer’s point of view within the space. This experience questions the status of the object and the possibility of its removal.

In the same exhibition, I installed Halyard, a sound installation that involved all the hardware of the American flag without the actual image of the flag itself. I was interested in the concept of invisibility: the flag being heard but not seen, violent but also inserted subversively into the architecture. I had been considering the notion of iconography and the conditions of identity and power. I wanted to de-saturate an image by its removal, allowing the trappings and the remaining hardware to represent its undoing.  I worked with sound designers to create a soundscape of a flapping flag and sculptural movement to the sound. The sound designer also designed the halyard rope to move in synchronicity with the movement of the flag by exploiting the capabilities of a speaker as a motor: ropes were attached to a speaker and, as the flag flapped, its vibrations moved the rope, animating subtly this lone standing figure."

-Michelle Lopez, Guggenheim Fellowship application, career narrative, 2019

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