Known for his characteristic rectangular 2D installations positioned around the world, Brooklyn-based artist Aakash Nihalani has unveiled his latest piece Landline that visually explores how members of his community connect not only with each other but also with their urban environment.
Nihalani’s Landline performance installations externalize this message with fluorescing structured beams passing through the hollowed chests of humanity. Different pieces in the collection show connected individuals facing each other, willing to interact, while others are side by side, aware of each other’s presence but distracted and distant. Those willing to look directly into each other have an uninterrupted straight line, while those that face away are more disengaged, with a kink in the connection. The single isolated man in the series is pierced by a square U-bolt as he removes the cover over his eyes.
Nihalani frequently uses sharp geometry in his work to draw attention to the underlying subconscious nature of urban architecture as an “endless network of cubes.” For both his indoor and outdoor pieces, Nihalani uses just tape and paint to convincingly manifest basic geometric relations onto the real word, creating the impression of computer graphic overlays.
His choice of fluorescent hues is designed to contrast with the city’s usual drab variants of neutral grey and tans. When asked where his unusual style comes from, Nihalani told Designboom that “I was really into magic tricks as a kid, and optical illusions, so I’m sure that’s still embedded in the way I approach things, manipulating positive and negative space to create an alternative vision of our urban landscape.”
The title Landline effectively embodies the installation as a wired communication between homes and homebodies. Nihalani explains that “the participants examine their own insides and connections, a visual expression of both the isolation and community I often feel living in Brooklyn. We spend so much time existing in virtual reality, [and] these works are a visible connection to the real world.” His goal with the installations is to encourage us to look at our relationship to others and our cities in a different, more playful way–urging us to realize that “how it is, isn’t how it has to be.”