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The AIT® is a women-led design studio and office, based in London.

Roni Horn / ‘Still Water’ / ‘Solid Glass Objects’

      Roni Horn, born in 1955, is an American visual artist and writer currently residing in New York. An artist of many talents, Horn’s work varies from photography, to plastic and aluminum sculptures, to drawing, painting, and of course her solid cast glass objects. This article will explore Horn’s glass sculptures in further detail, but before we delve into their specifics I wanted to touch briefly on a piece of her photography work that celebrates her brilliance as a visual artist.

    ’Still Water’ is a series of photography that presents a collection of close-up images of large bodies of water, most notably the Thames (the river that runs through both Oxford and London) it is beautifully executed and a thrilling exploration of colour, texture, and volume. Alongside each image is a collection of footnotes, fragments of Horn’s thoughts about the river that she has spent so much of her time observing. She refers to her written notes as ‘evolving quickly into a manic, obsessive, endless flow of consciousness’
    As a design studio, so much of our visual work is paired with our scribbles of design rationale; which is perhaps why we are so drawn to this series.

    Since the mid-1990’s Horn has devoted her time and talents to her glass sculptures, around 50cm tall, these works are extraordinary in their ability to veil their actuality - a direct and complex exploration of what is true and what we are in fact just perceiving. The beauty of these sculptures is their top surfaces which have the appearance of being pure aqueous, although are in fact, fire-polished pure glass. The glass takes on the characteristics of a pool of liquid, bowing and pricking much like an isolated pool of liquid would do so if under subtle tension.
    These reflective surfaces that cap each piece invite the viewer to approach and gaze deep into a portal of what seems to be an alternate reality where what we interact with is not entirely as it seems - one can perhaps delve into the notion that Horn’s sculptures are an interpretative prediction of the future to come, with the metaverse looming as the reality on the horizon. Horn on the identity of her glass pieces states,  

“In the glass pieces, what fascinates me has a lot to do with the essence of something that has one appearance but is really something completely different. For example, glass is a (super-cooled) liquid, not a solid. It’s a pretty amazing thing that a material as ubiquitous as glass can masquerade like that. It’s like having a mask but the mask is identical to the real thing.”

    Horn’s pieces, although crafted from a man-made object have an incredible engagement with nature. They bask in the sunlight that floods into any room they might be existing in, and this is when these forms are truly at their most magnificent; the subtle shifts in the light is what reveals their mutability - their ability to almost alter their physical make-up dependant on the rulings of the sky. It is this interchangeability and illusion that brings one to the conclusion that there is a comment by Horn here about identity and self-understanding.
    These sculptures challenge the surface-level notions about existence, which is why Horn is such a complex artist, her works have us examining our own self-reflection and the connection between ourselves and the environments we find ourselves in. Staring top-down into the bowing glass, one is transported to another dimension where identity is fluid, explorative, and our notions about our own inner-depths may refuse definition.

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