Pillbox

Exhibit features architecture photography

The exhbit, which runs through Jan. 13, features photographs by Iwan Baan, including this aerial view of Benessee House Museum and Oval in Naoshima, Japan. (credit: Courtesy of cmoa.org) The exhbit, which runs through Jan. 13, features photographs by Iwan Baan, including this aerial view of Benessee House Museum and Oval in Naoshima, Japan. (credit: Courtesy of cmoa.org)

With an atmosphere permeated by the scent of incense and a recording of children laughing to set the scene, the new Carnegie Museum of Art exhibit White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes kicks off with an engaging vibe. The exhibition, which opened Sept. 21 in the Heinz Gallery, takes museum-goers on a trip around the globe to investigate six cases of art fusing with the environment to create something new. White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes explores a new-age spin on the often traditional Carnegie Museum of Art.

The exhibit is designed around the photographs of Iwan Baan, a Dutch architecture photographer. Baan traveled to the Instituto Inhotim in Brazil, the Benesse Art Site Naoshima in Japan, the Stiftung Insel Hombroich in Germany, the Jardín Botánico de Culiacán in Mexico, the Grand Traiano Art Complex in Italy, and the Olympic Sculpture Garden in the U.S. to create his pieces.

All of the locations feature innovative methods of melding contemporary art with landscapes — be it with a mountain range, garden, or city — and all are fascinating to explore. The positively breathtaking photographs are bursting with vibrant color that brings true life to the exhibit, and the scale models that accompany the building plans of the various structures allow viewers to feel completely immersed in the art.

The addition of humans into the photos is a poetic touch. Humans are subtly incorporated into the landscapes and art spaces to suggest a hopeful future and the possibility of a peaceful, beautiful coexistence of humanity, art, and the environment. Eye-opening and thought-provoking, the photographs present a unique, visually pleasing aspect of contemporary art that is often lost in the shuffle.

Although the simplistic beauty of the photographed locations is generally overshadowed in the exhibition, this aspect is brought out most in photos of Stiftung Insel Hombrioch in Germany. The location includes a former rocket base that has been transformed into a home for contemporary art. The repurposing of this location is a metaphor for the survival and continuation of art in harmony with science and technology.

Unfortunately, the complicated nature of the building plans and the vast amount of information that covers every wall makes this exhibit almost too overwhelming to take in. The theme of contemporary art in international landscapes is clear throughout the gallery, but the details are lost in the flood of technical drawings and wordy captions. The exhibit displays too much information and not enough thematic material.

Despite this, the exhibit would be of interest to any student majoring in architecture, design, or environmental engineering. And for everybody else, the pictures and bright colors are reason enough for a visit — after all, admission is free for Carnegie Mellon students.