JOSEPH O'CONNELL IS A CONTEMPORARY ARTIST USING LIGHT AND MOTION TO HIGHLIGHT OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SCIENCE, HISTORY, AND ANTHROPOLOGY.
I believe art needs to be beautiful so it can touch people in an unguarded place where they are open to new thoughts and feelings. But many things are beautiful. Art has the additional duty of carrying layers about what it means to think and act in the world. I always imagine my art as another actor in the world – modeling a new way of being in the world – or as a small space that surrounds people and creates new temporary worlds for them to inhabit. As actors in the world, my sculptures use light and motion to project themselves out into space or invite a gaze within them. Other sculptures surround people with alternate worlds that open up new ways of thinking and feeling. In pursuing these beautiful machines with moral import, I have created some of the world’s largest and most complex sculptures.
Every art piece has a ‘frame’ whether that is an art museum, a private residence, an urban plaza, a recreation center, the solar system, or the edges and forgotten spaces of cities. I am interested in all these spaces and keep the ‘frame’ firmly in mind while designing an art piece. However, I am most interested in spaces that are not yet fully ‘owned’ because that is where humanity is actively asking what it means to be human and where the next century of change will come from. These un-owned spaces include the edges of cities in a potentially rewilding world, the new frontier of space, and the forgotten and overlooked spaces inside cities. Even within the fully ‘framed’ space of an art museum or urban plaza, my impulse is to create an experience that breaks out of that frame and points to new possibilities.
Creative Machines is a multi-disciplinary design and fabrication studio founded by Joseph O’Connell in 1995. O'Connell and Creative Machines have created and installed public art and other site-specific sculpture for clients throughout the world. With comprehensive resources under one roof, a consistency of vision extends to all aspects of a project.
Creative Machines includes 35 unique individuals with backgrounds in fine art, engineering, design, architecture, project management, fabrication, and installation. The 77,000 square foot workshop located in the vast desert of southern Arizona is devoted entirely to pushing the boundaries of art-making and interactive exhibitions through comprehensive design, prototyping, and fabrication. Smart, inquisitive people and extensive capabilities in engineering, electronics, CNC machining, and 3D forming give O'Connell the ability to explore pioneering materials and processes.
Best Of Arts & Entertainment, 2017, Houston Press, Best Art Installation, Wings Over Water
Mayor’s Urban Design Awards, 2015, City Of Calgary – Chinook Arc
Public Art Network Year in Review, 2014, Americans for the Art
Transformative Design Award, 2013, SXSW Eco ‘Place By Design’ Award, Ballroom Luminoso
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