The windows of the Philadelphia Traction Company — a collaborative workspace and art center in West Philly — have just begun the newest chapter in their lives courtesy artist Ryan Hinkel. The nine, four-by ten-foot covered spaces and two, seven-foot squares, which now house prints, have been transformed into “Skyscapes” with the support of NextFab Studio.
Hinkel’s installation is in many ways a role reversal for the function of actual windows. Transparent glass fixtures typically allow light in and allow those inside to see out, but these boarded-up spaces remain dormant. Returning to their past as windows of the former trolley factory, the prints make it appear as if you can see the sky by looking into the building. By standing at street level, the enormous photos mimic the sky, and the viewer can see both at the same time, allowing for the perception of both the real and the representational simultaneously.
At a distance, the images appear literal; they are pictures of clouds and sky. As one draws nearer to them, they begin to break down into pixilated sheets of comingling colors. Hinkel utilizes a multistep process of photographing, manipulating the photographs by adjusting the tones and often re-photographing them. The results are grainy, pointillist renderings of images that everyone is familiar with. To draw comparisons, all that is required is to look up.
The hues of the prints vary from shades of indigo and violet to orange and auburn. Walking along the long side of the Traction Company, the colors seem to trace the course of a day from the bluish tones of a misty morning to the burnt sienna sky of a sunset. This progression adds an almost temporal element to the installation, as if one were watching a time-lapse video. The tones could also be interpreted as a difference in seasonal skies as well. Of the two square prints in the front, one also includes the silhouette of a radio antenna, adding a slight mechanical or urban tinge that obviously suits the former industrial building.
On April 14 from 5 to 8 p.m., there will be a reception with Hinkel at the Philadelphia Traction Company, at which time he will also be displaying original prints of his work. The “Skyscapes” photographs will be installed until May 31.
The Philadelphia Traction Company is located at 4100 Haverford Ave.; email@example.com.