Brecht Gander’s Flesh Light lamp sheds light on “mechanical servants”
New York-based designer Brecht Wright Gander has created a wall sconce with a flesh-like silicone composite that is moved by motors to emphasise “the ways that even the most ordinary of domesticities often pulse with vitality”.
The lighting piece, called Flesh Light, consists of a silicone material that resembles flesh, suspended between a series of steel fasteners that expand and contract with motors that stretch the material, so that it appears to perform an “eerie dance”.
Brecht Wright Gander placed the contraption on a large, circular aluminium base with a LED light in the middle that shines through the silicon.
“This is a speculative design intended to direct attention to mechanical servants, which perform the thanklessly miraculous task of illumination,” Gander told Dezeen.
“By theatricalizing a synthetic lifeform and assigning that lifeform a task which we ordinarily associate with inanimate objects (sconces), I’m emphasizing the ways that even the most ordinary of domesticities often, in fact, pulse with vitality.”
Originally unveiled via Object Gallery at Art Basel 2023 in Miami, the object crosses the line between functional and concept art, like much of Gander’s work.
The piece is 95 inches (2.4 metres) in diameter and 9 inches deep (22 centimetres).
The array of motors positioned on the outside of the circular base can be adjusted for speed, giving the movement of the silicone different rhythms, which changes the “intensity” of the diffused light.
Gander was informed not only by what he considers the subordinate role that we give inanimate objects but also by the increasingly blurred lines between living beings and things “as we hurtle towards the unknown of artificial intelligence”.
The designer ascribes his ideas to a theory of mutualism or the interrelatedness between people and things, that he said has been gaining “currency” in “discussions of the current ecological and environmental changes”.
“Virtually all designers and architects will agree that we are collaborations of environment and self,” said Gander.
“But one formulation of this equation has been less considered: the way that we compose our environments, not just as agents which affect them, but literally as them—we exist in mutuality with our surroundings, which are us.”
Flesh Light is the latest addition to Gander’s Cronenberg-esque body of works that use “Sisyphean repetitiveness”, which he says is meant to make people question why they do what they do, highlighting the mechanical nature of biology.
“The obvious constraints in my creations — which perform a function, but seem to want to do more — also indicates the scepticism I have towards the idea of autonomy generally. Sconces don’t choose to be sconces,” he said.
Other examples of Gander’s work include Another Fucking Lamp, an installation that includes a number of silicon rubber “orifices”.
The photography is by Simon Leung.