Sarah Oppenheimer: “S-337473” at the Wexner Center for the Arts

S-337473, conceived for the Wex, transforms circulatory paths between and within the center’s galleries into a temporally changing architectural plan. Comprised of two large-scale glass switches, S-337473 rotates in response to engagement with the active visitor: thresholds turn into beams, columns become screens. The exhibition space is reoriented around new axes, altering the flow of bodies and ricochet of sightlines through the built environment.

The mechanical detail underpinning the motion of S-337473 is a product of Oppenheimer’s two years as a Wexner Residency Artist. During her residency, Oppenheimer collaborated with the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department at The Ohio State University to develop the kinematics of a new pivot mechanism. Unlike the more familiar pivots embedded in conventional doors and windows, the rotational axis of S-337473 runs diagonally through its material planes. Glass and aluminum surfaces rotate around this bias axis, creating a torqued transition between the Wexner’s vertical and horizontal grids. Static spatial markers become active spatial switches. S-337473 re-organizes the perceived limits of the architectural envelope, thereby shifting the viewers’ linear procession into an act of engaged navigation.

Notes Wexner Center Director Sherri Geldin, “Sarah Oppenheimer harnesses and fluidly navigates vital (if rarely noted) intersections between artistic and scientific inquiry, forging a creative practice that is entirely sui generis. Gravitating as she often does toward particularly complex built environments, she found the Wexner Center’s Eisenman building irresistible, and it’s been fascinating to observe her meticulous investigation of our galleries with an eye toward at once confounding and re-illuminating everything we thought we knew.”