A public garden & cultural center

Eto Otitigbe

Call & Response | September 10–December 3, 2017

Pictured above: Aseje, 2017, augmented Reality using the WallaMe app. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Wave Hill.

Eto Otitigbe’s installation, Aseje, an Urhobo word meaning everywhere, is an outdoor Augmented Reality (AR) installation, a series of composite views that result from superimposing computer-generated images on a user’s view of the real world. Utilizing patterns he explored during his 2015 Sunroom Project, Otitigbe conceives of the landscape as a frame for virtual images that are accessible on a smartphone or tablet along the paths in Wave Hill’s Herbert & Hyonja Abrons Woodland. Unseen by the naked eye but “situated” in the landscape, these forms become a virtual part of the woodland, enabling exploration without intervention. The artist’s continuing exploration of patterns has driven him to think more deeply about the character of the interior, versus the exterior, of places and spaces.

Situations, Specifics, Attenuation
Sunroom Project Space | June 7–July 19, 2015

Situations, Specifics, Attenuation, 2015, concrete, aluminum and wood, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Ken Goebel.

Eto Otitigbe is a multi-media artist whose practice encompasses sculpture, performance and installation. He describes himself in the poly-hyphenated terms of today’s culturally and socially engaged artists as Nigerian-American-Artist-Engineer-DJ-Designer, to name but a few aspects of his identity. Investigating issues of race, power and technology, Otitigbe sees his art variously as creative protest, cultural artifact or shared experience. At times, he makes politically charged work in response to current events; on other occasions, he experiments with process and abstraction. His most recent work shows how deftly he can merge political subject matter with graphical, skillfully produced forms.

To make the pieces in Situations, Specifics, Attenuation, Otitigbe took photographs in Wave Hill’s Conservatory, and then used a software algorithm to convert areas of light and dark into a cutting pattern for a computer-controlled router, which engraved the surface of concrete slabs. He considers the resulting images to be highly textural photographs. In the greenhouse, Otitigbe was drawn to the succulent Haworthia tessellata because of its distinct, mosaic-like pattern and its African origins. Finding something African in the Bronx prompted the artist to contemplate questions about migration and how the African Diaspora includes not just its people, but also its physical resources.

The square markings on the plant’s leaves reminded him of digital technology—like pixels or matrices, multiple operators acting simultaneously. To investigate how far a fixed set of conditions can transform or abstract a subject from its original form, the artist took the same plant images and further abstracted them by creating two additional geometric drawings, this time etched into aluminum plates. Finally, Otitigbe processed the picture of the leaves again with digital software, giving them the form of sculptural seating and locating them in the center of the Sunroom. Although the piece allows visitors to sit, its odd shape makes the experience awkward, and both furniture and person seem out of place.  


Situations, Specifics, Attenuation, 2015, concrete, aluminum and wood, dimensions variable. Photo: Ken Goebel.

 Situations, Specifics, Attenuation (detail), 2015, engraved aluminum, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Artist.

Artist website

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.