Saturday, 29 May 2010

Review: Kyle Bean's windows at Selfridges, London

An exploded motorcycle, each piston, gear and lever separate, hangs in balance with its assembled twin. The cardboard box for an office chair is hung against an office chair constructed from the same box. Artist Kyle Bean created a series of shop window displays each featuring a giant balance scales with pairs of objects in transformation. The concept behind the work was to illustrate the third law of thermodynamics, which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but changes from one form to another. I encountered these interesting works, not at Selfridges in London where they were on show from July until 1 September 2010, but on the Creative Review website, where I left the comment that follows:

I wonder if the commission of these new artist-designed windows is in part a response to Louis Vuitton's new shop on New Bond Street, which with its gold peek-a-boo mesh, animated shoes and glass globe-encased fantasy animals composed of leather handbags etc. has set a new standard for shop windows. Bean's disassembled motorcycle bears a superficial resemblance to the assemblage of cogs, wheels and scrap metal in Michael Landy's 'Credit Card Destroying Machine', partially visible through the LV window - but without the functionality and complexity of references seen in Landy's work. I do like the idea and careful execution of Bean's work, and am always happy to see integration of scientific ideas into art. But as others have said, it would have been nice to see the works balanced on a hair, perhaps moving gently, alarmingly, with a current of air. And what are these pairs of things equivalents of? Transformations of themselves? On first glance I thought perhaps they represented something like carbon footprint equivalents of themselves - the work might have had more weight (excuse the pun) if they had. Yes, I know that would have destroyed the thermodynamics theme. However, to be really picky, the pairs as displayed can't be absolute equivalents as energy must have been contributed to make the transformations, and the law of entropy says that energy gets used up within a closed system, and that over time there is greater disorder (as with the motorcycle) not more order (as with the castle). Perhaps this is reading too much into what is, in the end, a shop window display... but the publicising of the presence of the artist inevitably invites a higher level of scrutiny than the work of an anonymous window dresser, however innovative.

Regardless, it's fantastic to see more art in shop windows!

Image from, where the above comment originally posted.

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