In Victorian times bell jars, cylindrical glass vessels with a rounded top and an open base, were used to protect and display fragile objects. Today, glass artist Tim Tate uses blown glass jars to capture universal emotions and experiences with haunting video reliquaries that push the boundaries between fine art and fine craft.
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[private_archives]Tate, co-founder of The Washington Glass School, creates miniature self-contained video installations that are “temporal, sounds and moving images formally enshrined, encapsulating experiences like cultural specimens.” The videos play on tiny screens inside glass vessels adorned with the artist’s cast-glass sculptures.
Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand
16x6x6, blown and cast class, electronic components, original video, 2009
Tate’s sculptures ask you to surrender your guarded self and feel the range of emotions that they provoke. His newest works – larger and more complex – speak to universal issues, a shift from earlier work that was profoundly personal.
Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, one of several sculptures set to make their debut at Wheaton Village next month, is a reminder to appreciate what we have and embrace the wonders that surround us while we are here because time is always slipping away. This is a current theme in my life and the message resonated deeply as I studied the glass ‘bird in hand’ that sits atop the sculpture, the cast glass timepieces that surround the base and the video of sand running through the fingers of an adult hand, at the heart of the piece.
Dreaming of Ophelia
18x8x8 blown and cast glass, electronic components, original video, 2009
Back To The Hive
blown, cast glass, electronic parts, camera, audio wave, 14x6x6
I’m particularly intrigued by the interactive reliquaries that heighten the viewer’s personal experience. Back To The Hive and A Call To Redemption are two examples – as the viewer approaches the sculptures they see themselves in the LCD screen at the same time a motion detector inside the work senses the viewer’s approach, which triggers an audio wave – a drone bee returning to its hive in Back To The Hive, and a recording of an Imam calling us to prayer in A Call To Redemption. An admirer described A Call To Redemption as “an amazing intersection between art, theology and technology”.
A Call To Redemption
blown, cast glass, electronic parts, camera, audio wave, 18x5x5
My videos are never a narrative in and of themselves, merely gestures or movements. But when taken in with the piece in its entirety, the meaning begins to emerge.
The Washington D.C. sculptor, who makes the blown-glass vessels and cast-glass elements himself, also shoots the video and wires the electronics for each piece. He was recently announced as the first place winner of this year’s $35,000 Virginia A. Groot Foundation Award for Sculpture.