Sarah Oppenheimer: Sensitive Machine invites visitors to collaboratively realign and reconfigure the Wellin’s Dietrich Exhibition Gallery. Visitors touch and turn hollow black beams, setting in motion a relay of spatial cause and effect. Walls split and slide, creating new sightlines, while lighting tracks rise and fall, shifting the radiance of the gallery. Conceptually, the work explores how our actions—both individually and communally—shape the spaces we inhabit. The work invites improvisation and mobilizes group dynamics, bringing awareness to the collaborative experience of inhabited architecture.
The exhibition is comprised of four newly designed “instruments” that build on Oppenheimer’s recent exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Thun in Switzerland and Carnegie Mellon University's Miller Institute for Contemporary Art in Pittsburgh.
Created for the Wellin Museum’s open-plan exhibition space, four “instruments” link existing lighting tracks and subdividing walls. As visitors manually activate these works, a choreography of spatial change is set in motion. Lighting tracks slip between the vertical surfaces of sliding walls; luminosity levels fluctuate while sightlines are interrupted and revealed. Gradually, visitors become aware of the dynamic changes and learn their component rhythms. Sensitive Machine forms a complex spatial network activated by the collaborative gestures of engaged viewers.