Creaking and swaying back and forth like a noisy field of tall grass, John Douglas Powers’s sculptural installation Ialu overwhelms the senses. Each individual steel reed connects to a wooden support, which moves with the aid of a motorized drive shaft. The rhythmic wave of the reeds against the projection of mirrored clouds seems strangely natural, even as the squeak and groan of the machine’s underbelly reminds you of the hand-wrought, physical workings that create such an illusion.
The title of the work comes from the ancient Egyptian sekhet ialu, or “fields of reeds,” the traditional conception of paradise based on the reed fields of the Nile. Ialu evokes the sublimity of such a timeless, perfect world even as it insists that you examine the way the it works.