New York, NY USA
Thursday, November 15, 2012–Saturday, December 22, 2012
Reception: Thu, Nov 15, 6:00 – 8:30 PM
bitforms gallery is pleased to announce a second solo exhibition in New York with German sculptor
Björn Schülke. Luftraum features a selection of drawings and the debut of three interactive works.
Tools of modern observation and precision are evoked by Schülke’s new sculptures, which utilize the
gallery’s airspace, as well as its floor and walls. His constructions delight, disrupt, and disorient the
viewers’ expectation– staging an unpredictable behavioral exchange between the audience and the
machine. Drawing attention to the viewer’s own corporeal experience, Schülke’s work is characterized
by its lively interior consciousness. Revealed through a complex cycle of communication and
movement, each object possesses irrational character traits or distinctive emotional features.
All three ‘creatures’ on view are suspicious, vulnerable subjects that are awakened by motion sensors
as the viewer approaches. Psychically charged, these automated works seem fantastical, inheriting an
odd performative humor from Valie Export, one of Schülke’s mentors at the Academy of Media Art,
Cologne. A dark palette and sinister mood unify the work series, as each piece provokes a fight or flight
Perched in a corner of the gallery space, Spider Drone #2 subverts the common idea of surveillance,
turning the machine into a technological parasite that performs its own control parody. Extending from
this sculpture’s insect-like body are two attached camera arms, which advance according to the
detected movements of the audience. The object’s sleek surface finish suggests militaristic perfection
and homogeneity, while its exposed wires and screen-display pose a constant threat of inspection.
Targeting the viewer, Spider Drone #2 pivots protectively, and absurdly “shoots”, performing the
function of automated warcraft.
Luftraum #1 is a solar-powered mobile that uses a wing-paddle for propulsion. Its looming cycle of
retreat and approach musters a predatory atmosphere. As the sculpture’s energy stores are filled by
natural light in the environment, Luftraum #1’s slow and deliberate rotation evokes the fluid language of
drawing, beautifully considering the mass and weight of form. Is the spectator being lured? Is the object
before us a security device, or perhaps a trapped being attempting to flee in vain? Also on view, the
floor-bound Supersonic #5 hybridizes the shape of a zeppelin airship with the stance of a bull. A
theremin embedded within its body aggressively beeps and rumbles, suggesting the possibility of
liftoff. Tethers of snakelike industrial cabling flow from its base, punctuated by one singular wheel - or
A strikingly animist worldview emerges in Schülke’s work, including his drawings. Figures are depicted
with gestural sensitivity, exploring automated behavior and challenging the boundaries between
animate and inanimate. On view are plans for a range of works that have been commissioned privately
and publicly, including Space Observer, a monumentally scaled interactive sculpture for the San Jose
Björn Schülke (b. 1967, Cologne) is a sculptor who playfully transforms live spatial energy into active
responses. The striking physical presence of his work is anchored in the formal vocabulary of modern
abstraction and scientific measurement, while its behavior evokes irrationality. Collected privately
throughout Europe, the US and Australia, his work has also been acquired by Bank of America, The
Progressive Collection, the Borusan Collection at Perili Köºk Museum; 21C Museum and Hotel, Sharjah
Art Museum; Sculpture Museum Glaskasten, the Neiman Marcus Collection, Jülich Research Centre and
the City of San Jose. Selected exhibitions of Schülke’s work include the Telfair Museum of Arts,
Savannah; Museum Villa Rot, Burgrieden; KulturBahnhof, Kassel; Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid; Verbeke
Foundation, Stekene; bitforms gallery, New York; Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin and the
Biennale of Electronic Arts, Perth.
Directions to bitforms gallery
Gallery Hours: Tue – Sat, 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Nearest subway is the C/E to 23rd St in Chelsea
bitforms gallery is devoted to emerging and established artists who embrace new media and
contemporary art practice.