Laleh Mehran’s ‘Inherent Control Cyphers’, an immersive experience for all

On Oct. 22 Laleh Mehran spoke to students and faculty on her current exhibition in the University’s Samek Museum.

Haley Mullen, Contributing Writer

When Laleh Mehran was asked to exhibit work at the University’s Samek Art Museum she realized she faced a unique challenge — her preexisting artwork did not physically fit in the University’s Museum. Consequently, “Inherent Control Cyphers,” Mehran’s current exhibition, was created specifically for the Samek space.

Located on the third floor of the Elaine Langone Center, the “Inherent Control Cyphers,” show opened on Aug. 8 and will run until Dec. 3 of this year. On the evening of Oct. 22 Mehran, a professor in emergent digital practices at the University of Denver, spoke about her work in the Gallery Theatre. During her talk and the reception afterwards, Mehran discussed her inspirations, research, and goals surrounding her work.

“Inherent Control Cyphers” is motion-activated, leading Mehran to describe the piece as a “very immersive experience.” As an individual moves throughout the Samek, motion-sensors recognize this movement and the light-projected figures become, as Mehran says, “excited.”

The sound elements that accompany the visual art also increase in intensity, creating what Mehran called “a highly aggressive effect.” However, as the sensors operate on a time-delay, viewers are able to stay still and watch this intensity and subsequent retreat of the figures, which Mehran says “shows a sort of beauty of calm as they rearrange into their own spots.”

The artist also described the historic weight of the tulip, the motif which inspired the figures of the piece. Regarding the tulip as her selection of dominant imagery, Mehran stated that “roses are easy, tulips are complicated and have been valued for centuries.” Mehran also described her incorporation of militarized elements in the work as each of the thousands of tulip figures contains its own “rank.” Each tulip also has a uniquely coded pattern of movement, as she “wanted this flower to be an emblem or an icon of pretty intense power.” All of these elements help Mehran achieve her goal of creating an immersive experience which “encourages viewers to question their deepest beliefs.”

President of the Gallery Engagement Team, Daisy Fornengo ’18 enjoyed how “Laleh Mehran aimed to create a conversation about things that have never been solved, like religion and politics — so the work doesn’t just aim to solve the problems just to keep people talking about it.”

“Students should come see this piece. Not only to experience art but to engage with something new,” Jen LoBello ’19 said.

Mehran believes academic spaces, such as the University’s own Samek Museum, “are the best place to have tough conversations about values — even though not everyone here may be interested in botany or history, they are still an academic and able to have a tough conversation.”

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