Just Imagine... That seems to be the question that stokes the fire to all of Leandro Erlich's concepts. His work has made its way all over the world, usually via social media, shared and commented on by people that wish they were there to experience it for themselves.
Erlich's incredible installations and videos show us what everyday life would look like if our perception of dimensions entirely disintegrated, or if by some amazing turn of events we were able to defy the rules of physics that govern gravity, mass and form. In many ways, the work of Erlich is that of a reverse scientist. Instead of understanding why things are the way they are, he presents us with mind-boggling alternative realities that take what we know for granted and flip them on their head - defying the laws of the natural world.
One of his most famous pieces is his Swimming Pool. It has become a social media sensation and, despite having been created over half a decade ago, is still able to elicit awe-struck reactions from onlookers - let alone the people that actually go there. It is something quite beautiful - the pool is able to be walked into and water, suspended in glass, floats above the audience's heads. The effect is that the audience are underneath the water, yet completely dry. It allows people to experience something that we would otherwise never have been able to. Full life submerged by water.
It's not only an optical illusion or a psychological eye-opener. The effects are also physical. Somehow you feel lighter, floating underneath, overcome by a sense of calmness and equanimity. Just like sensory deprivation chambers, you become entirely consumed by your own body and mind. Nothing else really matters. You are suspended in time. The swimming pool has become your new favourite place. Outside of the water, above, is the world that you once knew. This idea of giving people a temporary new reality runs through much of Erlich's work.
Naturally, as with someone capable of such a simple reality-tweak that has reverberated worldwide - this wasn't a one-off wonder. Another installation that saw him become an Internet-breaker was 2013's Dalston House. It is, as the name suggests, a house in Dalston, London. He created a replica London townhouse on the ground and an angled mirror that reflected it as if it were a real house. That meant people were able to lay on the ground in various poses and interact with the building's facade, again as if they were free of the laws of the natural world.
If gravity didn't exist, and we weren't afraid of falling, what would we do? What would we look at? The Dalston House installation allows people to answer that and the results are as varied and creative as you'd hope. A young boys grind the window-ledges on his skateboard whilst a father reads a book to his daughter, perched precariously on another window-ledge. You can only imagine the freeing effects if this were actually possible. If it was safe enough to just climb out of your window and look at the world, you'd see things completely differently.
Elrich is this: a creator of possibilities. Yes, he is an artist, but considering his artistic creations hinge so much on new and alternative perceptions - he really has the power to change the way we perceive thing. His idea's are things that were maybe half-imaginable before he created it, yet once experienced, it's hard to imagine life any other way.
Besides the actual experience, Erlich is deeply concerned with the space that they are in. A recent piece at Le Bon Marché, a Parisian department store, shows the route of elevators being tied into pretzel-like knots. If you're looking on at them, it seems that they must travel in all direction before (hopefully) arriving at the correct destination. For this piece, it wasn't simply about what he created - but where.
Erlich ruminates about our changing experiences, "Today, we live in a complex reality with the rule of phones, social media and communication. You are seeing an increasing level of crossover, with museums showing fashion on the one hand, and brands providing a stage for artists." Department stores are now cultural spaces, with his installation at Le Bon Marché being one of only many that is planned.
Likewise, museums are now becoming places that sell fashion. Thus, they're becoming a branded aspect of the public sphere. Where there used to be definitive lines between the two, they are slowly dissolving, just like the lines that Erlich dismantles in his work. It is with this change in mind that helps him see the future as full of possibilities. It will be a place that governing laws and rules are more malleable and where limits are no longer as easy to dictate. This kind of world is daunting to some - it's harder to categorise and compartmentalise. But for the most intrepid of explorers, like Erlich, it's something that is bound to happen, so why not make it the best it can be?
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