October 1, 2021 - December 12, 2021
Project Fire Flower
Hosted by grunt gallery
grunt gallery, 116-350 East 2nd Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5T 4R8, Canada
Immersively tactile, the Fire Flower exhibition serves as a window into the evolving research process of Collin van Uchelen. A clinical psychologist and fireworks enthusiast, van Uchelen has been developing tactile methods for translating fireworks for years, most notably presented as Fingerworks for Fireworks at Vancouver’s Celebration of Light.
After experiencing Fingerworks, socially engaged artist and community builder Carmen Papalia started a conversation with van Uchelen. Papalia has been exploring tactility in his practice for years, most recently through the Let’s Keep in Touch project, a collaboration with curator Whitney Mashburn. In what has become Project Fire Flower, Papalia and Mashburn teamed up, along with architect/designer Michael Lis and artist Lianne Zannier, to support van Uchelen in his pursuit of tactile translation of pyrotechnics.
The exhibition provides a fully participatory environment in which visitors may step into Van Uchelen’s research process, touching his reference points. Reflective of van Uchelen and Papalia’s visit to a local botanical garden to touch flowers with shapes reminiscent of fireworks trajectories, visitors first encounter a tableau of faux flowers arranged in pyrotechnic industry racks and configured as a tiered fireworks display. A table shares household objects which served as referential ready-mades, and the media room conveys documentary footage of the pyrotechnic industry from friends and colleagues of van Uchelen. The literal highlight of the show is comprised of nine tactile acrylic panels, carefully engraved and glowing with light, illuminating the paths of seven different fireworks shells. Visitors are invited to trace their fingers through the engravings, while listening to van Uchelen’s voice describe the respective pyro effects.
Rigorous and passionate, Van Uchelen’s efforts in Project Fire Flower educate others about the pyrotechnic arts and share his joy for fireworks, all while fueling his continuing pursuit of refining translations of these dynamic objects.