Subtle Emergences

Subtle Emergences was my MFA thesis show, held at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art in Kelowna, British Columbia. The following text is from the companion essay, written by Jeannette Angel:

And you will experience a shift, a turn,
curling, reaching, pulling
still… moving

The gallery space is transformed into an ecosystem of hanging fabric entities and copper sound outcroppings. They are fragile technological beings that are not animals, not plants and yet they invite us to care about them. One seems to breathe.

Why should we care? Clearly these beings do not need us. Our actions do not seem to trigger a direct response, although our presence can initiate events. There is nothing about the way things happen in the space that would suggest anything good or bad, predictable or leading to a particular end. We are immersed in a delicate space, participating in almost imperceptible change.

The work invites us to consider change as something that is surprising and delightful rather than only scary and cataclysmic. It encourages us to be open to changes in our environment. We can learn to see the effects of our actions in their subtle emergences rather than only witnessing their overt consequences. Perhaps we can experience change as an opportunity for interdependent curiosity and exploration rather than forced growth and development.

The materials of the hanging fabric entities are soft, pliable and playfully suggestive of organic forms. The copper sound outcroppings flow from the wall, the floor, the ceiling, and bring forth tones buried deep within their pipes. They may remind people of sculptural pieces from the fifties and sixties like the precariously balanced kinetic mobiles of Alexander Calder that move in response to the visitor.

However Subtle Emergences is related to its art antecedents, the objects spill into a contemporary network of associations through their interactive qualities. While acknowledging the relationship to the rhythmic fragility of Arthur Ganson’s whimsical machines, Kadish’s entities move, emit sounds and are illuminated through technological design. This impulse to use microcomputers to animate objects, embed wire coils in fabric and play with heat sensitive paint is undoubtedly supported by Kadish’s years as an engineering student, but also formative participation in interdisciplinary design projects.

The concept of interaction design, which investigates the dynamic relationship between humans and technology, has always been strongly featured in Kadish’s creative experiments. Subtle Emergences introduces a new design element from ecology, the concept of complexity: a cluster of strands that weave in and out of one another, splitting and recombining, braiding and curling. In the gallery space, designing complexity involves building a generative composition that is not necessarily cause and effect; your interaction with one hanging form may cause changes in another piece across the room. This allows interactions to be affected by the dynamic participation of people, technological components and environmental factors. Sounds in the room activate the movement of the hanging entities, bodies in space disrupt shadows on the wall and words are revealed through changes in temperature.

This environment is charged with meanings that require a slow engagement in order to come into being. Bringing together art and science satisfies our human need to make sense of our world poetically.


For technical details on the project, see