Approaching the Viking Union Gallery this week, people will notice an ominous red glow coming from the darkness. Do not be afraid, it is merely the new show, “Relevance is fleeting.”
This show is a custom installation by Seattle artist Matthew Parker. It opened April 2, and is open this week through Friday, April 13, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. A closing reception is planned for Thursday, April 12, from 6 to 8 p.m. with food provided.
Matthew Parker is known for working with a variety of everyday, common materials to create unique and interesting installations. For “Relevance is Fleeting,” Parker decided to work with plastic straws--10,000 neon-pink and black straws.
Inspired by a multitude of other references, Parker used the idea of “dazzle camouflage” for this specific show. This particular type of design is a chaotic array of lines and angles in highly-contrasting colors. It is most notably used in the military where the sharp contrast and lines confuse the eyes.
This helps mask the true shape and volume, and even speed and direction of movement of a boat, tank, or other vehicle. In the gallery, Parker has crafted a minimal, two-wall installation using the dazzle camouflage idea.
The installation is on the farthest corner from the door and only that corner is lit. When used in a static manner and the dark environment, Parker’s chaotic and almost garish design is hypnotic and offsetting at the same time. None of these descriptions are to be taken as a negative.
Viewing the piece while standing still, one feels as if the wall is moving and shifting in different directions. As you walk around the gallery, the reflections on the plastic straws dance and travel across the whole piece.
Even if you only see the show once this week, I guarantee that your mind will keep wandering to that space of contradictions: between darkness and light; movement and stillness; chaos and order.
The only cure is to see it again. And maybe a third time for good measure.