Metafoil

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Client

Location: Oslo, Norway

Completion date: 2008

Project Team

Artist

Pae White

Pae White Studio, Inc

Client

Oslo Opera House

Overview

A commission for Oslo’s opera house, Metafoil is a digitally woven tapestry reproducing a photograph of crumpled aluminum foil. In a few years it’s gone on every opera fan’s bucket list and has even rivaled Munch’s The Scream as a Norwegian cultural attraction. Scanning images of crumpled aluminum foil, artist Pae White made this mind-bending main stage curtain for the Oslo Opera House. The digitized image was fed into a computer driven loom to weave the curtain, creating the illusion of a 3D surface.

Called “Metafoil,” it’s a modern take on the centuries-old tradition of weaving, but with a digital twist. “Metafoil takes advantage of the captive gaze of the audience, introducing a foil, a false reflection, an illusion of depth, a novel typography that disrupts expectation and challenges perception,” says White. A few feet away, you can see the individual threads but from the audience’s perspective it looks like a metallic, three-dimensional sculpture. The enormous tapestry is made of cotton, wool and polyester.

Goals

This is the stage curtain for the New Opera House in Oslo. It is woven in Belgium. No metallic thread was used in this piece but I wanted the idea of cotton struggling to emulate a reflective material. I wanted to elevate a piece of transient material, tin foil, into the realm of an opera house.

“My work has attempted to subvert the viewer's expected relationship to an everyday object, nudging them off balance, encouraging a deeper look,” White has said. “My goal is to cause viewers to stop and consider the bits and pieces of our lives that are most often overlooked, perhaps suggesting a more comprehensive reconsideration of the world around us, even to ask ourselves: What is important to us? What are we seeing? What are we not seeing?”

Process

Medium: Cotton, wool, polyester
Dimensions: 11 m x 23 m x .25"