MARCO BRAMBILLA CREATES A LIGHT LABYRINTH FOR WATCHES OF SWITZERLAND
APRIL 12, 2019
WORDS AND INTERVIEW
by ROBYN TURK
COURTESY of BATALLION PR
Watches of Switzerland celebrated the grand opening of its newest store, located at The Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards, this week. As Hudson Yards is home to New York’s most recent works of thought-provoking public art, it is only fitting that Watches of Switzerland had a groundbreaking new artwork installed into the front entrance of its boutique. Since the beginning of its U.S. retail endeavors, Watches of Switzerland has upheld arts as a cornerstone of its approach, and thus commissioned Marco Brambilla for its latest project.
Primarily known for his video collage installations that re-contextualize found imagery, Brambilla created an immersive video work called CrystalObservatory to welcome visitors into Watches of Switzerland’s prestigious selection of luxury timepieces. The abstract work takes its viewers through a journey inside an intricate crystalline space of flux.
As with his past works like Civilization (Megaplex), Crystal Observatory brings together Brambilla’s talents as both a filmmaker and an artist. Taking inspiration from Cubist art and early light artists, Brambilla used computer-simulated crystals carved into increasingly complex geometric patterns to demonstrate its capacity for reflection. The work displays through motion picture the ways in which patterns emerge from movement, light and color.
Upon the launch of Crystal Observatory, Brambilla sat down with AS IF to discuss the importance of art in the retail space and his collaborative process with Watches of Switzerland.
Marco Brambilla. Crystal Observatory, 2019, site-specific video installation at Watches of Switzerland's new store at Hudson Yards
How was the creative partnership with Watches of Switzerland? What was the collaboration like?
They were fantastic. As you can see, the piece isn't a literal relationship between the brand and watches—it's very abstract. Watches of Switzerland were very open to having a standard art piece that doesn't really necessarily tie into the watches or the brand, but rather reflects some of the aesthetics of the brand. They were very easy to work with.
How does the work itself interact with the shoppers' experience coming to this store?
The high-end retailers here in Hudson Yards were initially attracted to this district because of the cultural component—with The Vessel and The Shed. It's very natural that Watches of Switzerland would want a piece of standalone art that happens to be featured in their store. Most of the people who buy watches from this brand are art collectors themselves.
Given your background working as a filmmaker and commercial director, I would imagine that collaborating in a creative manner with a retailer would have been quite seamless for you.
I had been working on Crystal Observatory with the intention of installing it in a show in Berlin. As I worked on the piece, it just came together with the requirement from the brand and I realized I could take this same concept and tie it into the way it’s presented here at Watches of Switzerland Hudson Yards. It became seamless because of that.
Marco Brambilla. Crystal Observatory, 2019, video installation
What is the concept behind the work? How did you go about creating it?
I was inspired by a series of electron microscope photographs. I felt the appearance was fantastic—it looked like an electronic image, but at the same time it looked very organic. I decided that I wanted to create a crystalline world, as if you magnified the crystal only like the electron microscope could do. I used only light to depict it so it wouldn't be visible—it would be completely invisible without light reflected. It essentially becomes a labyrinth of light and is completely abstract. It's a very impressionistic piece, with no figural element to it. It's mainly about simply relaxing and moving in light.
Do you see any of this aesthetic in watches?
There is no connection on a superficial level, but you can draw similarities if you want. Looking at the work can make you feel lost in an empowering environment, and in the real world, watches can do the same thing.
“Looking at the work can make you feel lost in an empowering environment, and in the real world, watches can do the same thing.”
Marco Brambilla attends the launch party for Watches of Switzerland at Hudson Yards