Jennifer Steinkamp. Breaking Boundaries

Jennifer Steinkamp with Bouquet 1 (2014).
woman standing in a bouquet of orange red and pink flowers that wrap around her body with foliage in front of a black background
Jennifer Steinkamp with Bouquet 1 (2014). Photo by Jessica Hromas.

Jennifer Steinkamp’s large-scale installations often cast the viewer’s shadow onto projected animations of abstract loops and grids, or digitally rendered stylized flowers and plants. They invite us to enter physically engaging aesthetic experiences that dissolve the boundary between viewer and object. She studied experimental animation at the California Institute of Technology with Gene Youngblood, author of the influential book Expanded Cinema (1970), who introduced her to computer-generated animation and structuralist film.1 Looking to early experimental, nonnarrative filmmaking—like Paul Sharits’ sensory-assaulting color flicker films and Michael Snow’s dual-sided projections2—that reveal the structure of their presentation, Steinkamp’s projections alert the viewer to their own physical presence within a space: “when you walk through it you disrupt the illusion and weave yourself into the work.”3

  1. Jennifer Steinkamp, interview with Sean Capone, “Animation and Abstraction: Jennifer Steinkamp interviewed by Sean Capone,” BOMB online, posted September 18, 2018, available at ↩︎

  2. Peter Lunenfeld, Snap to Grid: A User’s Guide to Digital Arts, Media, and Cultures (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2000), 151. ↩︎

  3. Jennifer Steinkamp, quoted in Catherine Shaw, “Arts preview: Jennifer Steinkamp’s swirling 3-D digital installations,” South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), February 12, 2014, ↩︎