Jennifer Steinkamp is a California-based installation artist who has worked with video and new media since 1989. Although trained as an artist, she has the exacting precision of a surgeon and the analytical skills of an engineer, which are essential for her work. Steinkamp’s work explores ideas about architectural space, motion, light and perception. She creates ravishing life-size, computer-animated projections of trees, flowers, water and other organic and abstract forms that explode with color and undulate in hypnotic movements as they cascade across a
room, ceiling to floor and wall-to-wall. She relies on sophisticated software, computers and high-quality projectors to create her breathtaking artwork, which has been shown in museums and galleries throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, and is in public and private collections around the world..
LightWerks Communication Systems, Inc. (“LightWerks”) is an audio-visual integration and design firm that works closely with Steinkamp on her cutting edge creations. “Her innovative use of technology as an art form has captivated our industry and the contemporary art community, ” remarks David Riberi, CEO of LightWerks.
Steinkamp constantly pushes the limits of technology with her installations, many of which use multiple projectors and computers.
She works closely with Doug O’Connor, Account Executive at LightWerks, who focuses on the company’s work with museums, galleries and individual artists. Steinkamp has worked with O’Connor for nearly 10 years and they have developed a terrific business-?customer relationship. Steinkamp consults with him after she receives a commission and he guides her through the selection of equipment with the optimum technical specifications to best showcase her work. “Typical projections don’t cover an entire wall, however many of Jennifer Steinkamp’s art projections are huge images projected over large distances in rooms and galleries where it is difficult or impossible to control the ambient light. The same projector placed 10 feet from the wall won’t project the same quality projection when placed 20 feet or more from the wall,” explains O’Connor. Steinkamp also relies on his help when it comes to developing a budget. The ideal scenario is finding the smallest and brightest projector with the highest resolution for the most reasonable price. “Selecting the appropriate projectors that have the correct amount of brightness at an affordable price point that works within the constraints of the customer’s budget can often be a challenge, but we always find a way to make it work,” said O’Connor, who takes tremendous pride in seeing artists like Steinkamp thrive.
Jennifer Steinkamp is entranced by how people interact with architecture and space. Often her commissions are designed to fit within a prescribed architectural space but she has also been known to tailor the architecture to dovetail with her projections. The Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego commissioned Steinkamp in 2011 to create a site-specific work to respond to the interior architecture of the Farrel Gallery, a cavernous space punctuated by large arched-?shaped openings. With her spectacular use of sophisticated software, Steinkamp was able to precisely trim her projections to accommodate the architectural elements, such as windows and doorways. And with careful calibration and placement of seven synchronized high-?end Christie Digital projectors (www.christiedigital.com), Steinkamp’s piece, entitled Madame Curie, filled the gallery walls, which were 83.5 x 21.9 feet, 83.5 x 18.6 feet and 22.6 x 22.2 feet, with images of flora drawn from a list of plants mentioned in Marie Curie’s biography.
“When I first became involved in the industry 17 years ago, projectors were rarely seen outside of a conference room or classroom. It is simply beautiful and brilliant to see Jennifer’s use of multimedia technology in an art form, and how it demonstrates the limitless dimensions of our digital age,” said Gina Riberi, President of LightWerks.
Jennifer Steinkamp was born in Denver and raised outside of Minneapolis. She attended the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where she began as a design major, but left school for several years to work in graphics and film animation, both in Los Angeles and New York. She moved back to California and began teaching at the Art Center College of Design, and later finished her Bachelors, switching to fine arts. In 1989 she received her Bachelors of Fine Arts and two years later, she completed coursework for her Masters of Fine Arts degree. In 2000 she began teaching at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she remains on faculty. Steinkamp said she was “blown away” by her first video art course in 1982 with Gene Youngblood and the avant-guard filmmakers Oskar Fischinger and Hollis Frampton. She was also influenced by artists Eva Hesse, Bruce Nauman and Bridget Riley, and inspired by the work of the space-and-light artists James Turrell and Bill Viola.
Steinkamp recently completed an installation that went inside the nearly 40’ dome at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and another installation for the American Embassy in Guangzhou, China. With the expert advice of Doug O’Connor, she is also working on the construction plans for an elaborate outdoor installation at the Cedars-Sinai Hospital in West Hollywood, scheduled for completion in 2013.
Steinkamp sells her work on computers. Collectors need a computer and a projector to display her work, much of which is customized by Steinkamp for each installation. For more information about Jennifer Steinkamp contact the ACME gallery in Los Angeles (www.acmelosangeles.com), Lehmann Maupin gallery in New York (www.lehmannmaupin.com/gallery) or greengrassi gallery in London
LightWerks Communication Systems, Inc. is a value-added audio visual integration dealer and design firm that brings personalized assistance to their customers. Customers benefit from LightWerks’ experienced technical team and hands-on approach to customize the optimal integrated system for each unique application. For more information about how LightWerks can help you with your technology needs, please call (888) 454-4489.
Marguerite d’Aprile Quigley is Principal of the Artful Network LLC, a communications and marketing firm that specializes in the arts and cultural sector.