Thursday, February 22, 2018

Particulates at Dia: Chelsea

To enter Rita McBride’s Particulates at Dia: Chelsea one must go through a single industrial door posted with a caution for exposure to lasers and radiation. Once inside it takes a minute for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, green lasers beam from across the space and a dingy brick shelter the size of a basketball court comes into focus around you. Sixteen beams span the length of Dia: Chelsea, forming a hyperbola around a single axis. A slight buzzing rings in your ears and you notice a consistent mist dispersing over the beams, intensifying the green wherever the light intersects with moisture. An uneven fence, Guidance “Barriers”, restrains visitors from getting unlawfully close to the high-intensity lasers. The more time one spends in the space, the more Particulates becomes about the environment created around and because of the lasers than the lasers themselves. There is an uneasiness about being in this dark space with the perpetual buzzing and humidity from the mist. Yet there is a desire to move around the space, ignore the fence to go under the beams and experience the work like other installations or sculptures.


  1. I enjoyed the fact that McBride used water vapor and light as the materials with which she created her work in this instance yet the use of the hyperbolic paraboloid hourglass shape was perplexing to me. When the axis of the form is vertical, McBride draws a parallel between the geometric form and the actress Mae West, yet when sideways, she ignores that connection. Also, the feature of a restrictive fence seemed strange considering the normal interactive quality of the artists work.

  2. The atmosphere you've created it spot on. What I also remember experiencing in the space was a certain amount (perceived) of danger. The radiation warning outside paired with the strangeness of a fence functioned as a way to keep people out of the artwork but felt more like a means of protecting us. Is the wetness underneath the lasers somehow radiated? Have I now fully exposed myself to radiation bouncing off the walls of this enclosed warehouse? Despite all that consideration of risk, what might it possibly mean that I'd go back?

  3. Oh man, that door was something else! I recall wondering why exactly we were walking through a door cautioning us of radiation only to step inside and be confronted by this massive alien laser beam. The caution on the door kept with me the entire time as i stood mesmerized. Curious what your thoughts are regarding the humidity and humming noise that accompanied the visual? Created an other worldly environment for sure.