As artist-in-residence, Korean artist
Kimsooja, wanted to explore a “shape and
perspective that reveals the invisible as visible,
physical as immaterial, and vice versa.” for
the Cornell Council for the Arts’ (CCA) 2014
Biennial, she has realized that objective with “A
Needle Woman: Galaxy was a Memory, Earth is
a Souvenir,” which was installed in September
Kimsooja’s 46-foot-tall structure features
an iridescent polymer film developed at
Cornell, reflecting light with structural colors
similar to those in a butterfly’s wings. Creating
it involved some diligent problem-solving by
materials scientists in the lab of Uli Wiesner, the
Spencer T. Olin Professor of Engineering.
CCA director Stephanie Owens and professor Uli
Wiesner look over a polymer sample in Wiesner’s lab,
which developed material for artist Kimsooja’s “Needle
Woman” project on the Arts Quad.
The group, including chemistry Ph.D.
student Ferdinand Kohle and postdoctoral
researcher Hiroaki Sai, worked out how to
create a polymer producing the desired optical
effect and how to adhere it to Plexiglas panels
on Kimsooja’s structure. Architecture students
assisted with materials and fabrication.
“I really love how world-class science
has been incorporated in world-class art,”
Juan Hinestroza said of the Kimsooja-Wiesner
project. “The fundamental science behind the
coatings developed by the Wiesner group, the
chemistry developed by Hiro, as well as the
methods pioneered to coat the films with such
nanoscale precision by Ferdinand, are indeed
revolutionary – and the use of these materials
to assemble a large structure like Kimsooja’s
needle is simply breathtaking.”
Materials science and engineering professor Uli Wiesner,
artist Kimsooja, CCA Director Stephanie Owens and
architect Jaeho Chong with Kimsooja’s “A Needle Woman”
after its installation on the Arts Quad in September.