A sense-ational night at Eyebeam.

By sevan

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On almost any given night in Chelsea you can stumble upon a number of gallery show openings, featuring everything and everyone from the ultra-familiar Warhol to a contemporary conceptual photographer you’ve probably never heard of. But what might make discovering a hidden gem in the art world even better is to find a party to go along with it — now that’s the icing on the cake.

Although it wasn’t quite by chance that we found ourselves at Eyebeam Art + Technology Center last Thursday, the night was nevertheless quintessentially New York. The atelier was teeming for the U.S. launch of Madeline Schwartzman’s new book, See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception. The book is the first to survey and present over 100 projects by artists, architects and technologists that explore the relationship between design and perception at the intimate scale of the human body.

Pages from the book were projected on the back wall of the atelier space, revealing a sampling of the fascinating images it contains: Haus-Rucker-Co’s Mind Expander (1967), Diller + Scofidio’s Braincoat (2002), and Hyungkoo Lee’s The Objectuals series (2007) to name a few. To the right, what looked like a human-sized sandwich bag hung from the ceiling. We later discovered that it was much more than that when Belgian artist Lawrence Malstaf took off his shirt and shoes, and stepped in between the two layers of PVC. Within a minute, he was vacuum-packed between the two transparent layers, suspended in mid-air. Malstaf performed Shrink (1995) twice for the evening’s audience, getting a loud round of applause as he stepped out of the plastic, still breathing and completely unphased by the experience.

When the lights went off an hour after the launch party was scheduled to end, there were still a few stragglers unwilling for the night to come to an end.

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