Floating Neon Color Fields, Made From Plastic

Bahar Yurukoglu uses plastic to create hovering neon landscapes.

It’s tough to tell whether Boston-based artist Bahar Yurukoglu is fascinated or repulsed by her chosen material. “Plastic is a major source of pollution,” she tells Co.Design. “Nature dead.” Yet it’s also the primary ingredient in her art, a substance which in her hands becomes stunningly beautiful.


Yurukoglu is both a photographer and an installation artist (often at the same time). She uses blocks and shards of acrylic–cheap, off-the-shelf plastic–to create temporary installations of floating color fields, dense with pieces of refracted light. If she’s working in her studio, she’ll photograph the results, which she exhibits in wide-format prints. But she also creates in-situ installations, attaching pieces of acrylic to the walls of a gallery and coaxing them into life with video from an overhead projector. Her most recent installation, Nature Morte Redux, an eight-minute-long video trained on the plastic fragments, brings them to life, casting neon prisms across the gallery walls.

You may remember Yurukoglu from Co.Design’s coverage of her piece Die Zukunft last year, in which John Pavlus commented that he’d love to install the piece in his baby daughter’s room. That’s what’s so great about this work: It’s utterly accessible and full of joy, but there’s also plenty of concept to dig your teeth into. She describes her work as a reinvention of classic still-life painting, in which a synthetic material has replaced flowers and fruit, and a camera lens has replaced the hand of the artist. “I use straight edges and artificial colors to signify contemporary culture, but I hope to reference nature at the same time,” she explains. “By projecting an image of acrylic onto actual acrylic, I challenge physical and conceptual perception while pointing to the tension between real and fake, natural and artificial, desire and repulsion.”

So are we supposed to see a cynical commentary on contemporary life, or an ecstatic and playful folly? It depends entirely on your perspective, but I’d argue it’s a bit of both. Keep an eye out for some of her prints on 20×200 starting later this spring.

[H/t Triangulation Blog]

About the author

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan is Co.Design's deputy editor.