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Art and Artists
May. 22, 1970

Intermedia's 'gentle people' fill VAG with geodesic space


The unusual events of the Intermedia opening at the Vancouver Art Gallery tended in some measure to divert attention from the exhibits.

The geodesic domes of various sizes and materials have the originality of bringing Buckminster Fuller's invention, applied more commonly to concert halls, planetariums and Expos, down to human scale.

They provide a new sensation of space for people who live in corners: huts, tents, gazebos, shrines which one must stoop to enter, humbling oneself as the Japanese tea ceremony.

The virtuoso handling of the dome is most impressive in the aluminum rod version of Al Hewit in the main concert gallery. This is the largest sculpture which the VAG has ever exhibited, yet the most breathtaking, airy and lightweight.

Its graceful mesh is a space drawing, wondrous as a cobweb glittering with dew. And somehow, although it is enclosed in a room, it carries with it an envelope of atmosphere.

Lighting, masterfully co-ordinated throughout the show by Dave Morrison, further enhances this mass sculpture by casting tangled shadows upon walls and ceilings.

There is also the environment of color. The amber lights contrast with broad strips of foam rubber, white and green unfurled across the domes inner space adding a random organic element to what has been such a carefully designed structure.

Hewett is in fact an engineer by training and his involvement with Intermedia demonstrates its success in fostering collaboration between artists, scientists and technicians.

It has also been able to secure the co-operation of industry, the Wilkinson Steel Company having been most generous.

Hewit's other sealed aluminum dome, smaller and more approachable, stress the beauty of the material as red lights play on it's outer surface, while a string of yellow ones liquify it's inner walls.

Dave Rimmer's dome covered with cheesecloth and lit with blue spots, had the feeling of a summerhouse on a still night. People lay full length inside it, gazing up at projections flickering across it's "ceiling."

A playful note was injected by Dough Robinson in what he calls his "tinker-toy domes" of plywood laths, curved into central medallions whose bolts form a decoration.

However I preferred his hut of plywood sheets, strongly tropical in its connotations, framing people and parts of the room through it's apertures.

At its center is Audrey Doray's fluorescent, phosphorescent five-sided column, glowing a pale chartreuse under black light. if you intercept the light, you leave the imprint of your gesture upon the column for some time like an instant replay.

It was a mistake, though, to place this highly participatory piece in the fragile plywood dome, which trembles every time people step over it's raised rim. It should be relocated so that children in particular can have unimpeded access to it.

The four small domes in the large Emily Carr gallery are more akin to art objects.

An extraordinary tactile quality is imparted to the one papered over with the poems of Maxine Gadd and the photographs of Joan Payne, while marsha stone's meditation dome, with its panels of pressed leaves and ferns, stressed once more the lyrical orientation of the group. Through the show landscape is implied as well as architecture.

The bazaar held on Wednesday in this setting rambled causally around the domes. Cloths were hung on walls, pots were spread on the floor. A couple of people worked at looms. There was a horoscope booth, bales of hay to sit on, a dog lying on a pile of mats, children dragging their security blankets: belts bags and hides hung on Hewetts aluminum tube dome.
In the evening SPEC held a meeting in the tinker-toy dome while members of Intermedia carried out their regular weekly discussion stretched out on a scrap of foam rubber like a bedouin encampment. The Gallery was given over to the gentle people.


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