John Maeda: Exhibition at Fondation Cartier (stills from Nature series)
A show of new work by John Maeda opened at Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain last Friday. The Nature series consists of 7 “motion paintings”, inspired by natural phenomena. Eye’m Hungry is a collection of 6 reactive works intended specifically for children, exploring themes connected to food.
Unfortunately, the works are only documented as stills on the Cartier web site, so it is difficult to appreciate the works as time-based compositions. Maeda has published a shaky handheld walkthrough video on his site, but it confuses rather than illuminates. The impression one gets from the stills is one of works that prioritize motion and surface texture over graphic form. Many of the stills have a blurred, out-of-focus feeling, giving them the texture of video or closeups of low-res images. There is a 18 sec trailer of ine of the Nature pieces on the Maedastudio web site, called Linear Way. If this is anything to go by, it seems obvious that the works must be seen in motion to work as intended.
It seems like Maeda has slowly been moving away from his bold graphic forms and colorful compositions shown in Maeda @ Media, a book he describes as “a farewell to digital design”. Interestingly, he says in an interview for the Cartier show that he wanted “to create work with a lively and joyful spirit close to Pop Art”. This connection is not so easy to perceive in his recent work, including this exhibition. Still, it’s hard to judge from the online documentation, so if you’re near Paris then go see the show for yourself .