The Virtual Reality Of Sculptor Janos Stone
By Scott Hughes
       

More than ever, we rely on technology to communicate: emailing, texting, reuniting on Facebook, buying through PayPal. These vehicles are evolving daily—and impacting our lives in ways we don't fully comprehend.
    Janos Stone is illuminating that through his art.
    This renowned New York City sculptor has created a polyhedron of people playing Wii and a relief sculpture of a couple that met at an online dating site. And the future possibilities for this subject are as endless as a random trip through 'Google.'
     "I'm definitely very interested in technology that allows communication between people. I'm just one of the billions along for the ride with this thing. As an artist, I sit up, take notice of it, and report back on it from time to time," Stone says.
     But it isn't only the theme that sets his work apart. It is the medium he is using to make it: gypsum board. In Stone's hands,

had thrown a few pieces of wallboard out on the street. I picked one up, took it to the studio and started working with it. It is a material people think of as inflexible, but in fact it is very flexible. I fell in love with the material. I had a feeling it was going to provide me with a huge range of opportunity, and it has."
      For Stone, who describes art making as 'collecting and organizing,' gypsum board is becoming a studio staple.
    "I would say I am a collector of the properties of gypsum board—I now have a hands-on feel for how much you can flex it, carve into it; the subtleties of it."
     His relationship with National Gypsum began, serendipitously enough, with an Internet search.
    Commissioned to make a monumental project—and not having the capital to completely fund the materials—he happened upon the 'user-friendly' NGC site. Here, he stumbled into Marketing Manager Renée Cieslikowski, and

by Arthur C. Clarke.
    "I was looking for a title for the piece, I was reading Clarke's book at the time, and that popped out at me. In the future, I'll think twice about such a long title," Stone says.
    Recently on display at the Dumbo Arts Center in NYC, "ASATIIFM" will exhibit at other venues.
    Stone, whose work also heavily integrates mathematical shapes and forms, admits, "Much of my work revolves around quantum physics, focusing on both the minute and the massive."
    Not surprising, as the son of an architect and a photographer, and the grandson of Gyorgy Kepes, who founded and headed up the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Advanced Visual Studies during the '60s and '70s. The influence of their disciplines on his work is undeniable.
    "Sculpture and architecture share the fundamentals of being objects in space—both are under the forces of gravity and both are physical and occupy space. What I make has a skeletal structure as a building has a skeletal structure—both have to stand up, support their own weight; a sculpture is like a building in that sense," he says.
    When Stone is not in his studio creating, he is instructing. He teaches at SUNY Buffalo and lectures at Pratt and the School of Visual Art, New York City, as well as throughout the Northeast. His artwork has been exhibited throughout North America and in Europe. Classically trained, he received his bachelor's of fine art from the Rhode Island School of Design and his master's of fine art from Boston University.
    Upcoming shows include: Second Solo Exhibition at Slag Gallery (slaggallery.com), Chelsea, N.Y., and (Untitled) Exhibition at Anthony Greaney Gallery, Boston, Mass. For more information and to see his work: janosstone.com.
 
reality and cyberspace are colliding on what most consider to be merely a building material. By snapping and scoring, tearing back the paper and then carving into the gypsum, he is also pioneering a new frontier in medium.
    "I knew I wanted to make polyhedron shapes because they mimic the landscape of the inside of cyberspace—in essence, all straight lines. Even a circle and a sphere are made up of tiny straight lines; a sphere is a group of triangles. I knew I needed a material that only allowed straight lines," Stone says.
    And his discovery of gypsum board as a medium is pure coincidence.
    "I was walking along the street on my way to the studio. Somebody,
renovating a home,
  requested assistance.
    "This project required 90 sheets of ¼-inch high-flex wallboard. I happened to contact Renée. She listened to me explain who I was, what I did, and she got very excited. She eventually secured 100 sheets for my project," Stone says.
     That project, his largest ever, is "Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology Is Indistinguishable From Magic." It is comprised of 112 pieces of 3-foot by 3-foot gypsum board polyhedral. The sculpture depicts 70 images of the night sky—spanning most continents, from Australia to Africa. Printed on the gypsum "MeCube" tiles are more than 550 YouTube and Vimeo stills. The entire installation measures 11.5 feet by 1 foot by 82 feet. Stone borrows the title from the text of an astrophysics book
     
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