Surface Tension

Immovable Object Against and Unstoppable Force 2010
salvaged car airbags, concrete slab, blow fans
54 x 120 x 170 cm

Surface Tension was an exhibition of works by Erin Coates and Justin Spiers at Red Gate Gallery Bei Gao, Beijing in 2010. It was a result of the artists’ 3-month residency at Red Gate. ‘Surface tension’ is a term used in physics to describe the cohesive forces between liquid molecules and the strength of the outer membrane. In the context of this exhibition 'surface tension' referred to the relationship between a defined space and its outer edge, between the human body and the places it occupies. The installations in Surface Tension examined the physical and ideological nature of boundary marking and the influence this has on the way we live our lives.

Erin’s Immovable Object Against an Unstoppable Force comprised of two elements; a concrete slab and an inflated structure made of car airbags. These two materials are in sustained tension with one another; the concrete slab is suspended from the ground by the cushion of airbags, and the airbags are pressed down and shaped by the downward force of the concrete slab. The protective function of the airbags ultimately secures the system in an immobile state.

Another sculptural, Transfusion, set red LED rope lights into a concrete cube. The sides of the cube bulged, suggesting the red tubes were performing an uncontrolled ‘transfusion’ into the form. The cube has a strong correlation to modernist art and architecture and the city; the string of LEDs is a reminder of the currents of power that run through them. Red is an auspicious colour in China, meaning power, prosperity, happiness and luck and red rope lights are used extensively in storefront advertising in China, often to form Chinese characters or simple images.

Transfusion 2010
cast concrete and LEDs
60 x 60 x 40 cm

Other works in Surface Tension included an installation of inflated flag structures, integrated into the gallery architecture – In Fill – and a concrete bollard with protruding fencing materials, security camera dome and a hand-knitted flag – Urban Growth.  Download the full exhibition catalogue here.

Infill 2010
fabric, industrial fans, dimensions variable

Urban Growth 2010
concrete, powder coated steel fencing pieces, wool, security camera domes
120 x 130 x 180 cm