Kwina’a Taba [Eagle Sun] (2007)

8” x 12” x 4”

Wood, acrylic paint, LEDs, custom circuitry

Kwina’a Taba means “Eagle Sun” in the Native American Paiute language. It is one in a series of of ambiguously kitschy silhouettes of animals made with natural materials, rainbow colors, and hypnotic illuminated patterns. The series confronts the tension between the Western idealization of Native American cultures as being pre-technology and our simultaneous obsession with everything technological.

Kwina’a Taba is made with painted acrylic on wood panel and mounted floating off the wall to expose custom circuitry and wiring. The electronics blink a series of LEDs spaced in the shape of an eagle in flight, each LED intersected by a painted ray emanating from the center. The LEDs blink imperceptibly faster and faster as the earth approaches the winter solstice, and then slower and slower until the summer solstice when they seem not to move at all. Thus it functions as as sort of cosmic clock tuned into rhythms much slower than humans are used to perceiving.

We worship our gadgets, our touch surfaces, and our blinking screens – this piece offers that fascination to the viewer but then challenges her to stay with it long enough to transcend its spectacle. The first layer of meaning, the ironic but flashy re-presentation of Native American symbols, gives way to the second layer of meaning, a critique of that naive objectification and our hypocritical appetite for the new. Yet there is enough innocence in the piece to suggest a third layer, a meditative state in which technology and nature can peacefully co-exist.

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