The Whitney Museum of American Art launches Tumbleweeds (2022), a new hybrid project by artist Sara Ludy (b. 1980), on whitney.org. The work combines physical elements of performance and craft with browser-based visuals to examine concepts of space and time across the natural and online worlds. This commission is the latest in the Museum's Sunrise/Sunset series, a project that captures the core of artistic practice on the Internet with art interventions on the Museum's website. Tumbleweeds unfolds across whitney.org for thirty seconds each day to mark sunset and sunrise in New York City. The Sunrise/Sunset series is organized by Christiane Paul, Adjunct Curator of Digital Art at the Whitney.
Tumbleweeds is the first Sunrise/Sunset project to combine digital and physical interventions by exploring the connection between nature and the online world. For whitney.org, Ludy creates an evolving map of animated light points displayed across a dark background. These points correspond to a performative activation in the desert of New Mexico, where the artist lives and works. Over the duration of the project, Ludy attaches shards of found glass to tumbleweeds using biodegradable twine and then releases them into nature. Ludy captures short videos of the light reflected by the glass shards, which appear on the online map as points of light that leave behind colored trails. Although they take on different hues, the same light points are seen at sunrise and sunset—"traveling" across the browser window to suggest a state of timelessness.
"Tumbleweeds beautifully captures a state of being that many of us have experienced over the past few years: untethered and in suspension between online and offline existence," Christiane Paul said. "The project sparks the imagination by inviting viewers to contemplate the simultaneous separation and connection between the online light points and tumbleweeds in the desert."
On a biweekly basis throughout the project, Ludy updates the evolving animated "star maps" by adding points as she releases more tumbleweeds into the desert. By placing the light points within the browser window on an unmarked background, she intentionally obscures the scale of the territory represented by the maps, highlighting the differences between space and time in the physical and online worlds.
The performance concludes when Ludy stops releasing tumbleweeds. A final digital star map is then created by combining the sunrise and sunset maps into one static digital "painting," which will be presented on whitney.org to mark the end of the activation.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Sara Ludy (b. 1980, Orange, CA) is an American artist and composer living and working in Placitas, New Mexico. Ludy works in a range of media, including digital painting, animation, VR, websites, installation, and sound. Through her interdisciplinary practice, Ludy generates hybrid art forms from the confluence of nature and simulation to explore notions of immateriality and being. Ludy's work has been exhibited at the Whitney, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Vancouver Art Gallery, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and Künstlerhaus Bethanien, among other institutions. Her work has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, and Cultured Magazine.
The Sunrise/Sunset series is organized by Christiane Paul, Adjunct Curator of Digital Art at the Whitney. Unfolding over a time frame of ten to thirty seconds, each project disrupts, replaces, or engages with the Museum website. Using whitney.org as their habitat, Sunrise/Sunset projects capture the core of artistic practice on the internet—interventions in online spaces. The series debuted in 2009 with Untitled Landscape #5 by the collaborative ecoarttech. More recent commissions include LaTurbo Avedon's Morning Mirror / Evening Mirror (2021), American Artist's Looted (2020), and Kristin Lucas's Speculative Habitat for Sponsored Seabirds (2019).
The Sunrise/Sunset series is a part of artport, the Whitney's portal to Internet art and online gallery space for net art commissions. Launched in 2001, artport provides access to original commissioned artworks, documentation of net art and new media art exhibitions at the Whitney, and new media art in the Museum's collection.