Mortal Process wins Bronze Award

The Hangzhou Bay International Sculpture Grand Prix 

The China Academy of Art and the Hangzhou Bay Area Development Committee received over 1,000 entries and collected 70 sculptures for the finalist exhibition.  The final selection included 1 gold, 2 silver, and 12 bronze awards.  The 15 awarded sculptures will be enlarged and sited at Hangzhou Bay Area in Ningbo, China.

Mortal in China  to see all 15 awarded sculptures


Art theory, in its constant pursuit to redefine art and its cultural relevance, has recently favored sculpture that pushes the boundaries of human interaction and cultural content.  Some of the most exciting developments in art today include artworks in video, installation, performance, and relational aesthetics. As an art educator and appreciator, I enjoy contemporary art theory and the most cutting edge directions in its evolution…  as an art maker, however, I value the “art object.”

For me an object itself represents the most fundamental expression of life through the act of synthesis.  So, I have chosen to focus on the “object” in my work and to exploit the physicality of form along with the ability of form to remind the viewer of their connection to the natural world.

In this new work-in-progress, I am turning my attention to my upbringing in the Rocky Mountain West.  I have spent my entire life in the West, aside from 4 to 5 years in New York, Chicago, Mexico, and traveling Europe.  My perspective has been deeply influenced by a raw exposure to the rural West’s dramatic land, weather, and extant lifestyle.

As I contemplate this new work, it occurs to me that verticality has a special and fundamental affect on our human psyche. In relative terms there is a preponderance of horizontality in our physical and experiential world. I am always struck by the visual impact of almost any object in the expanse of the West.  It is clear to me that if gravity had its way… everything would be flat.  It then follows that any 3-dimension object is a testament to life-force and resilience.  Everything that has a vertical dimension is either “alive” or the result of some “living” process.  Earth processes create mountains and gravity slowly grinds them down creating complex forms and character. Life forms reach for the sky and humans build monuments that represent our perennial dance with the forces of nature.

Exhibition Proposal for BAM

Exhibition Title: Naturalizing The Digital by Francis Fox and BOCOLAB

Narrative Description for Boise Art Museum Exhibition Proposal January 2010:

This exhibition will explore the relationship between digital technology and natural processes.
I propose to install two large sculptures in the Sculpture Gallery at Boise Art Museum and to reserve the Nelson Gallery for an installation of smaller sculptures, drawings, and paintings.

Proposed installation for Boise Art Museum Sculpture Court

The first sculpture proposed for the main gallery will hang from the ceiling. It will measure 22-feet in every direction and be constructed from bronze, wood, and aluminum. Sculpture #1 will assert the presence of nature by accentuating the physical and analogue qualities of form and materials.

The second sculpture, created by BOCOLAB, will consist of 50 interactive digital units hanging on the gallery’s south wall. Each unit will be designed to respond to motion and audio input from its environment with light and sound. Sculpture #2 will refer to ideas associated with the individual and collective characteristics of digital technology.

In the Nelson Gallery, I propose to exhibit artworks in a variety of forms and media. The focus will be to investigate the relationship between analogue and digital expressions. The following images represent a few examples of recent work that could be considered for inclusion in this part of the exhibit. These examples are all generated from combining 3D-digital technologies with tradition processes or natural materials.

Agate (digitally scanned and enlarged snake agate)

Crystal (machine-constructed from digital scans)

Regions (oil painting of digital screen shot)

Silverpoint drawings of digital scan segments

Expanded description of the proposed wall sculpture by BOCOLAB:

The second proposed sculpture for the BAM Sculpture Court will consist of 50 interactive, programmable digital units called “Bopunks.” The proposal is to arrange them on the gallery wall in a randomly organic pattern with areas of concentration and outliers. Each unit will be designed to sense light changes and sound in its environment and to respond with glowing lights, chirps, and beeps. They will also respond as a community or system with waves of light and ambient sounds.

BOCOLAB currently envisions the following example of its behavior with 3 modes of activity.

Mode1 – “Sleep.” In this mode the piece will glow with a gently soothing ambient sound. A random chirp from an individual may temporarily disturb the units around it.

Mode2 – “Awareness.” A viewer’s activity will wake up the sculpture for mode 2. At first, one or more of the individual units will sense a sound or a viewer’s close proximity and respond with a higher intensity of light and sound. After a period of interaction, the more active units will alert the rest of the community leading to Mode2. The activity in this mode will be subtle and reserved but it will clearly demonstrate an “aware” behavior with gentle chirps, beeps, and slowly changing lights.

At this point a loud sound from the viewer will shut the community down as if it were hiding.
But quiet and patient observation will encourage the community to enter a final playful mode.

Mode3 – “Performance.” In this mode the piece will perform preprogrammed behaviors with waves of light and pleasant note progressions.

Please Note: Since each Bopunk is programmable, BOCOLAB will be evolving the code over the next year to best simulate an organic system for the viewer. By developing these individually sensitive units with a simple set of rules, we intend to create an organic digital community that give will rise to spontaneous emergent behaviors.

Translucent resin Bopunk housing

Wax prototype with light sensor

Comparison and Contrast of Sculpture #1 and #2:

The 2 sculptures in the Sculpture Court will clearly relate to each other with color and repetition. And they will both share the quality of making the viewer aware of their presence in relation to the piece. But they achieve this quality in completely different ways.

Sculpture #1 uses the physicality of form and materials to make the viewer aware of their bodily presence in a real space. It is a singular and connected expression that uses suspension, canter levering, enormous scale, spatial interaction, and materiality to confront the viewer. These analogue qualities lead the viewer to experience a primal or preverbal content that in turn refers to ideas of origin, procreation, growth, expansion, potential, and mystery.


Sculpture #2 on the other hand, uses sensors and responses for a more conscious experience with the piece. The forces operating in this sculpture are more ephemeral and time based. Light, sound, and sequence implicate the viewer into a relationship with an unknown system. The piece is digital in its form and it uses digital means to achieve its expression and refers to ideas about individuality, community, behavior, interaction, illusion, energy, and systems.