WARREN SEELING: MACHINA TEXTRINA
Over the past two decades, Warren Seelig has occupied a key position in contemporary textile in North America. He is distinguished professor in the crafts department at the Universithy of the Arts, Philadelphia, and maintains a studio in Rockland, Maine. In the 1980s Seelig shifted from loom-based textiles to three-dimensional constructions using combinations of coloured fabric membranes stretched on metal spoke skeletons of hand-wrought stainless steel. The latest generation of this work and a new group of wall-mounted work were shown in "Warren Seelig Machina Textrina" at the Museum for Textiles Contemporary Gallery, Toronto in 1997. During the development of this exhibition, a collaborative relationship emerged between Seelig and Philip Beesley, the curator and designer of the exhibition.
The surrounding walls were treated with layered planes of transparent glazes and overlapping shades of white, encouraging a retinal oscillation to amplify Seelig's construction. A broad shell of folded origami-like plaster board provided a surface for a dense field of fragmentary constructions. The gallery ceiling was stripped, revealing massive surfaces of raw concrete and a thicket of electrical cables and mechanical ducts.
The structures acted as optical filters and projection screens. The mesh surfaces were scrims catching shadows and glowing with light coming from behind. The spoke arrays gave filtered views and cast latticelike patterns on surrounding surfaces. By building up layered views throughout the museum gallery, a new fabric was made, filling the space.