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Small Works Salon Winner Cindy Lu’s Science-Driven Sculptures Tackle Data & Privacy

Submitted by on October 19, 2018 – 8:00 amNo Comment

First, picture the human body. Then, as if a camera were zooming in closer, go through all layers of skin, muscle, and bone right down to the tiniest molecule. What once appeared simple has a new level of complexity, of many small parts working together on a larger scale. That describes both the intricacy of molecular/cellular biology and the work of Cindy Lu, whose background in the subjects informs her artistic style in many ways, most recently in her upcoming show at the Chandler Gallery, “Data Collection.”

“In this age of big data and artificial intelligence, we are continually subjected to digital biopsy to feed the growth of entities that seek to monetize and control our behavior,” she explained.

To represent these views of data and privacy in one sculpture, Lu sewed together tens of thousands of plastic transfer pipettes, which are used in biology labs to suck up liquids and other materials. At first glance, it looks like something you would see peering through a microscope, what Lu described as a “primitive, biomorphic form.”

“On the one hand, the entities are attractive in some way and are meant to draw people in,” she said. “On the other hand, they may also seem sinister or malevolent.”

That dichotomy is not foreign to her overall body of work. Her style, she said, is the product of ongoing experimentation with different materials and techniques, informed by her background in scientific study, and she often tries to encapsulate feelings of “instability or tension.”

“Particularly in times of societal or personal upheaval, we may find ourselves trying to find patterns or piece together fragments to reconstruct what may seem to be an elusive whole and to map out/imagine possible end states,” she said.

That is true of the deceivingly simple aesthetic of Lu’s sculptures and installation. Among them lie even more questions and hypotheses, and possibly a truth waiting to be discovered.

“Data Collection” is on display at the Chandler Gallery from October 29-November 23. The opening reception will be held on Thursday, November 8 from 6:00-8:00 pm.

The Chandler Gallery is a program under the umbrella of the Agassiz Baldwin Community, a private, non-profit organization that has provided quality programs and services in the Cambridge community for over 40 years.

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