Local Artist Spotlight: Daric Gill
Two decades ago, Daric Gill dated a girl over the summer from Urbana, a city near his hometown. He would go and see her on the weekends, but admittedly, Gill doesn’t think the girl was that into him. That was fine, though, because by the end of the summer Gill had become better friends with her father.
Her father owned an airplane strip in Urbana, and one day he called to offer Gill an airplane.
“My first question, as it would be, was how big. And he said that it was the size of a golf cart. I got there — definitely was not the size of a golf cart,” says Gill.
The plane was in pieces, however, so he loaded them up on a motorcycle trailer and stored them in his parents’ barn for a few years. Eventually, he thought, he would use these parts for a light sculpture.
Fast forward to 2019, and a section of that plane has made it into the Columbus Museum of Art as the entry piece in “Greater Columbus 2019,” an exhibition and partnership between the museum and the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC).
Gill is an interdisciplinary artist with a career that spans 20 years in Columbus alone. The piece, titled “The Imagination Machine,” is his latest sculptural work, but his portfolio also includes paintings, furniture and illustration.
By default, the two halves of the 20-foot, motion-sensitive wing glide through a brilliant color sequence, triggered by four passive infrared sensors — which, in essence, detect body heat. They also connect to the internet to access NASA’s open API database, using a unique key to learn the location of the International Space Station (ISS). Any time the ISS is overhead, both parts of the wing undulate with a cool, blue color, with a slight delay between the two.
Hourly, both sides pulsate a white light. The wing’s final feature also allows Gill to trigger a set of bright orange lights at any time and anywhere in the world, as long as there is an internet connection.
That’s significant, seeing as Gill will be living in Germany for the next several months. He was selected for a residency in Dresden, Germany as part of the GCAC’s 2019 Artist Exchange Program.
“The Greater Columbus Arts Council, the Ohio Arts Council, the museum and CCAD, they’ve been really, really good to me for a very long time,” he says.
“The Imagination Machine” is part of Gill’s Machines series. It follows “The Shy Machine,” an interactive, kinetic light sculpture that reacts to noise in a room. Its “shyness” is relative — it opens or closes based on a noise level that is relearned every 10 minutes.
There is also “The Living Orb,” the first sculpture in the series. Basically, the piece is a wooden ball that is motion activated. As soon as someone gets near it, it pulsates a white light.
Nature plays a big role in what Gill makes, even outside of this series and medium. “The Shy Machine” for instance was influenced by a hike he took in an ancient rainforest in British Columbia. Gill wanted to bring a piece of that experience with him, to show somebody else who may not have had an experience like it.
The Machines series is Gill creating inorganic organisms that behave almost as if they were alive.
“Instead of having artificial intelligence in the way that we think … this is kind of this fake emotional intelligence,” he says.
“If you just romp through the woods, you’re going to scare off all the living organisms. They’re going to go run and hide,” he says. “The shy machine … it’s that organism. If you appreciate what’s going on and pay attention … it will open instead of closing.”
How viewers experience Gill’s work is obviously crucial to its function. But even more, he sees his art as a visual language requiring conversation, of which he has deeply thought through. Whether for the 20-something or the 60- and 70-year-old viewer, there is something everyone can get out of the exchange.
“I really do like the interaction between people. And this artwork is just an extension of that,” he says. “I’m not there to be part of that interaction. So, instead, I give this artwork in my place.”
Gill is non-commissionable, and his work — enormous light sculptures or otherwise — is in fact for sale. His ideas are his source of income, and he works that way purposefully. Coming up with ideas and concepts to bring to life is the fun part, he says.
“The love affair is with the idea making, and if you come up with the idea then you take away the only thing I really love,” he says. “Very often I hear people who are like, ‘I wish I could do what you do.’ The more I heard that, the more special I realized this journey that I’m on, how special that really is.”
For more information on Daric Gill, visit his website: daricgill.com.