Osman Khan, Ceil
“A hyper real rendition or a dystopic version of the sky above…”
The project, Ceil, places a laser (approximately 10 ft above the Stone Arch Bridge) that continuously sweeps across a horizontal plane over the Mississippi River. The effect of it would be to provide an invisible canopy across the space, its only consistently perceptible clue a horizontal line drawn across the urban edifices and park trees where the laser touches. The only time the canopy or ceiling would become apparent would be when particulates pass through the beam. This may occur frequently or infrequently depending on occurrences of natural phenomena (spray, fog, dust) or infrastructural residues (steam from power plants, sewers) or provided by individuals (smokers, hot breath or strategically placed fog machines).
Ceil simultaneously invokes its namesake verb (to cover with a ceiling), the computational function, ceil() which rounds an integer towards positive infinity, a dyslexic spelling of the French word ciel, or sky, and its close or rather closed homonym, to seal. Oscillating between being visible and invisible, a hyper real rendition or a dystopic version of the sky above, an impenetrable shield or inhibiting barrier, the project, in exploiting the hide and seek nature of a laser beam, plays with the public’s perceptions of invisible forces (both real and artificial), understandings of natural phenomena, projections of fictional aspirations, and interactions with mediating technologies.
Osman Khan is an artist interested in constructing artifacts and experiences for social criticism and aesthetic expression. His work explores and subverts the materiality behind themes of identity, communication, economics and public space through participatory & performative installations and site-specific interventions. His work has been shown at Shanghai Biennale, China; ZeroOne Festival, San Jose, USA; L.A. Louver, Los Angeles, USA; Witte de With, Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, Netherlands; Ars Electronica Center, Linz, Austria, O.K Center for Contemporary Art, Linz, Austria; Socrates Sculpture Park, NYC, USA SIGGRAPH, San Diego, USA; Bank, Los Angeles, USA; telic, Los Angeles. He is a recipient of an Art Matters grant, Ars Electronica’s Prix Ars Award of Distinction and The Arctic Circle 2009 Residency. Articles about his work have appeared in Artforum, Artweek, Art Review, I.D., LA Times, the Wall Street Journal and Artnet. He currently is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Art & Design.