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Way In (BIF Landscape)
Way In (BIF Landscape)
Flashe, acrylic and tempera on canvas
48" x 96" (diptych)
2013

This site-specific painting depicts the landscape surrounding the Business Instructional Facility on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from multiple vantage points. Fluorescent red, pale blue and blue-greens produce the phenomenon of simultaneous contrast, in which the red induces pale green afterimages that complicate perception of the background tones. This creates an optical sense of depth, despite the flat, graphic quality of the forms. The effect is heightened by an iridescent wash over some of the light-colored forms, which causes elements to emerge and disappear with the viewer’s movement before the work. These subjective optical effects are motivated by an interest in the ways that desire and expectation shape our perception of the built environment. The designed landscapes adjacent to the BIF communicate on a variety of levels, speaking of the University’s history as a land grant institution, the building’s “green” relationship to ecosystems, the relatively late settlement of East Central Illinois on terrain characterized by wet prairie, and the changing formal expectations we have for our institutional buildings. Every mark is descriptive of specific plantings and trees on the grounds, but their arrangement according to diverse viewpoints, combined with unnatural color, creates the sense of another world. The behavior of daylight and reflections in the atrium informed the design, which suggests that the view through the south windows is reflected against this north wall. The blue-gray ground is the color of ambient daylight.