Project Description


The Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas


Bearings Down, 2016, installation

The Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas

April 7 to May 13, 2016

In April 2016, Paula Crown debuted Bearings Down (2016), an aesthetically striking and visually charged immersive installation at the Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas, Texas. 

We inhabit, as Richard Feynman called, a world of “jiggling atoms.” Our world is a multiverse that is potent with possibilities. Such a concept is anxiety-producing. Bearings Down is about bringing forth a comprehension of one’s position in this uncertain dynamic world. 

Derived from Crown’s Helicopter Drawings (2012) in which captivated by the expansive and exquisite topology while flying in a helicopter over the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa, Crown began to sketch the landscape. Capturing the ephemeral moments that she experienced through the hand, how would the air currents, helicopter engine chatter, and piloted direction affect the line quality? 

Bearings Down distills these ephemeral landscape drawings. Working with Factum Arte in Spain, Crown printed these scanned images on glass and metal, ultimately creating an infinity mirror-like box of work. They are magnified, rotated in space, and crafted into a three-dimensional image etched on glass. This rigid plane serves as the top of a 4’ x 3’ etched mirrored glass box sculpture framed by three, full-size panel screens. The base of the box is a mirror that creates optical speculations and infinite reflections of illusionistic space.  The work is a harmonic blend of mark-making, sound, and performance. Video, three-dimensional computer animation and sound are intuitively orchestrated by Crown. 

However,  during shipping, the work was shattered slightly and another idea was born. The work wouldn’t be repaired, but modified. Crown determined that ball bearings would make for an ideal device for destruction, and so she continued to further “damage” the piece. Drawn from her own actions of destruction, Crown made new works to accompany this iterative version of Bearings Down, capturing the process on video with high-resolution film. The video also incorporates digital animation into the live-action footage and includes compositions by Nathanial Mann, who recorded the audio of the glass-breaking process, creating a soundtrack of the shimmering sounds of glass falling and the bearings rolling. These digital tools provide an existential loop of what art can be and what materials it will manifest in. There are multiple layers of marks occurring in this work, showing how one unintentional event catalyzed future opportunities to create. What remains is a visually charged object which merges rigid and organic forms.  

The alteration of scale and video, along with the sound recordings, create arresting moments of musicality, color, and material.  Nature works its magic providing moments of reflective serendipity. Collectively, Bearings Down provides glimpses of the macro and micro, internal and external, and physical and emotional dimensions that we all inhabit and navigate in our human existence. 

Kenny Goss, co-founder of The Goss-Michael Foundation, calls Crown’s exhibition “a striking visual experience. Impressive in scale, the individual works are slick and beautifully made, but behind the gloss lies a thoughtful commentary about how we find our way. It’s immersive and contemplative at the same time.”