ROSES AT BELL
A WORK IN PROGRESS
The Bell Labs Holmdel Complex was completed in 1962, one year after the death of its architect Eero Saarinen. Entirely mirrored, the building reflects its pastoral environs perfectly, mapping them onto its modernist grid. The transistor, the laser, and the very ones and zeroes of information theory are among the many breakthroughs that came from the two million square feet of mind space inside.
In late August, ten thousand roses of different colors and varieties were placed in the atrium. Over the course of four days, as many petals as possible were picked and photographed by men at individual stations, producing a digital data set.
The workers set aside the petals they considered most beautiful. Those were taken to a private room, where they were pressed to create a physical subset.
The last day of the installation, Saturday the 27th, was open to the public. The previous days were recorded on 16 mm film by a film crew.
In 1984, the Bell System was first broken up, and subsequently downsized as the nature of scientific research adapted to corporate needs. Bell had ushered in the age of information; the building was abandoned and nearly demolished. It is being revived as multi-purpose space by Somerset Development — now, Bell Works.
Today, the walls resonate. The whiteboards still bear formulas and the switchboards are numbered by hand. Once the process of photographing is completed, the digital petals will be analyzed — the color and vibrance, shape and contour, pattern of the pixels — to cluster images and find links. Perhaps the 100,000 images generated can be used to create unique new digital petals by interpolation, or perhaps machine learning can reveal conclusions about beauty. The field of critical interpretation is open.
In her work across media, Sarah Meyohas (French-American, born 1991) uses networks of information, power, value, and communication. Most spaces are shaped by the flow of desire through matrices of thought; this is the site of her work.
Her 2015 cryptocurrency Bitchcoin and recent Stock Performance at 303 Gallery in New York have been featured in The New York Times, Time Magazine, Wired, Vice, Fortune, Artspace, and The Atlantic, and she has appeared on CNBC, PBS, and CBC.
Her first large-scale installation will occur at the former site of Bell Labs, in the atrium of the Landmark Eero Saarinen building where it will be on view in late August, and is supplemented by a collection of essays. A secondary body of work resulting from the performance will be subsequently exhibited and accompanied by a documentary film.
Meyohas holds a B.A. in international relations from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in finance from the Wharton School, and in 2015 received an M.F.A. from Yale University. Her home in New York is her eponymously named gallery.