Airan Kang, Pining for Mother by Shin Saimdang, 2014, LEDs, custom electronics, and resin, dimensions variable.
It would be an understatement to say that Airan Kang is fixated on the book as a form—the South Korean artist’s exhibitions have bibliophilic titles, almost to a one: there’s “The Only Book,” for instance, plus “Hello Gutenberg,” “Light Reading,” “The Bookshelf Enlightened,” and “Luminous Words.” Her latest, “The Luminous Poem,” which opens tomorrow at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, continues a career-long project that “opens up the idea of the book from a concrete, self-contained object into a virtual space for the imagination,” as the gallery puts it. You’d be forgiven for finding that high-flown—but even if Kang’s installments don’t explode your whole approach to the written word, you can still count on them to rewire some synapses. The enigmatic title piece projects Romantic poems across an enormous mirrored book that the viewer can walk through; the effect is like a planetarium for words, with serifed stars. Her shelves of books, meanwhile, their spines and covers etched in retina-scarring neon, conjure both your neighborhood bookshop and a Jetsons-era take on space-age amenities. It’s as if some time-traveler whispered the words electronic book into the ear of Hanna-Barbera cartoonist circa 1963—Kang’s works are proof of concept.
“The Luminous Poem” is up through June 13.
Luminous Words, 2013.
An installation view from “Light Reading,” Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, 2010.
Scrolled Book 4, 2014, LEDs, custom electronics, plastic, wood, 40″ x 19 1/2″ x 5 1/2″.
The Luminous Poem, installation, 2015.
Dan Piepenbring is the web editor of The Paris Review.
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