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The Glitzy Gloop of Dan Lam

Words:

Edd Norval
September 4, 2018

You'd be forgiven for thinking that an extraterrestrial had left something behind when you see Dan Lam's bright and infinitely intriguing statues of organic matter that can't help but look out of place.

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Dan Lam creates her pieces with food, fluids and floods in mind. In other words, she's inspired by the natural things that take their shape all around us, right before our eyes.


It starts with this idea or imagine in her mind. Then the pieces become a metal frame before she builds up he materials to the frame, returning the form to look like she had imagined. The materials, just like the subject matter, are subjected to gravitational pull and that means the finished piece is unpredictable and difficult to accurately consider before the realisation of the final piece.


The colours are inviting and alluring. We love to feel these kinds of textures. As kids it was play-doh and gunge, then as time moves on, it's more likely to be materials for baking and stress-balls. It's in the physical realm of touch, as much as sight, that the pieces inhibit.

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Contradictorily, along with inviting the viewer to touch them, they are often covered with something else (a layer of resin spikes for example) that can both repulse and draw people to want to touch it. By creating this unique effect, of the subjects being something we want to admire and interact with, she has created an army of fans that are obsessed with seeing what she makes next.


Perhaps the essential beauty of these pieces is that they never seem static, but in a perpetual slow-motion growth - bubbling and sagging. There's something very real about them. Intensely textured, her pieces have got viral appeal, leaving a whole lot of people yearning to touch one. They carry the same visual appeal of the things we can't help looking at, despite knowing we should probably stop. Photos of symptoms, disease, strange sea-creatures and oddly exotic animals and plants.


There's a piece named 'Thigh Gap' and the aesthetic of imperfect skin, pockmarked and cellulite-laden, is an inspiration. The materials used give it the same appearance - a fatty substance that looks like legs hanging from the edge of a chair. It's not just the shape of polyurethane that excites her, but the use of thermochromic paint - a coating that changes colour in reaction to heat. This offers Lam a whole new level to aid in exploring the feeling of her stationary structures and her ability to make them feel alive.


The only limit to the output of Lam's creations is the materials that she can use. Will we one day have access to materials that are essentially 'living'? Probably, and when that happens, we can be pretty confident that Dan Lam will be one of the first to use them.

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