Extended through 7 November, the immersive exhibition Cascade: A Jen Stark Experience populates 6,000 square feet of space at Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s The William Vale with swirling rainbow patterns, charming projection-mapped icons, dripping and drizzling digital walls and so much more. Stark’s four uniquely artistic rooms and two moving murals come to life thanks to cutting-edge technology. Produced by Art Market Productions in partnership with Joshua Liner Projects and United Talent Agency, the dazzling endeavor begins with Flavor Paper wallpaper and ends with a gallery of fine art pieces and a gift shop that includes accessible Stark merchandise. In between, the LA-based visual artist’s mesmerizing work—along with contributions CutMod, animator Christopher Rutledge, CG artist TJ Pulliam, Jamie Vance, artist and filmmaker David Lewandowski and sound designer Charlie Scovill—yields a tremendous sense of awe and discovery for individuals of all ages.
“My artistic inspiration is deeply rooted in math and science,” Stark tells us of her kaleidoscopic worlds. “I love exploring the means of connection between physical and digital worlds, whether through animations and installations, or interactive projections and NFTs. By allowing my artwork to evolve alongside technological advances, I see the capability for digital assets to adopt the living properties of organic matter. Each piece becomes a sensory symphony of technological and human collaboration, one rooted in spontaneity and the adventure of the unknown.”
The best way to understand Stark’s tantalizing geometries is to experience it for oneself. However, a general awareness of what unfolds makes the immersion even better. For instance, the first room, referred to “Space Junk,” is where icons move toward and stick to participants. Thanks to high-end motion sensor technology, they’ll even follow a person up a wall (to a certain extent). A wind chime sound effect accompanies the magnetic visuals.
Though the first room may be relatively straightforward, the second offers several surprises. “This is called ‘Rainbow Cycle,'” Liner tell us on a walk through the space. “Here, you create the color—or grayscale—and sound yourself. You are assigned a note when you step in. As you move toward the middle, it gets louder. That said, it is still mellow and meditative. But regarding the color, when you walk, you change everything that is cycling around you. When blobs surrounding people meet, the overlap creates different colors or grayscale.” This process soon inverts. It manages to be both empowering and sublime.
“Jen, in addition to being a fine artist and a muralist, has also been really successful in the NFT space,” Liner says, noting an NFT display wall where visitors to Cascade can see the NFT files associates with the art that’s transforming around them. Stark is not new to NFTs (or the digital space) but recently some of her works went up for auction at Phillips. Further, each week of the five planned weeks of Cascade, Stark dropped 12 NFTs on the Foundation platform, all of which were icons drawn from or referencing her “Space Junk” experience.
Perhaps the most consuming work on site isn’t interactive at all; though it is deeply immersive. It’s called “Portal” and is a translation of the wall-mounted paper sculptures that first made the art world fall in love with Stark’s work. Standing in the center of “Portal,” guests might wonder how fast they’re moving, when in fact they aren’t moving at all—a color-saturated and lighting quick projection is.
The mural “Drip Cascade” animates Stark’s most iconic imagery—and lets participants stand close and toy with proximity. Nearby, “Strobe Wall” is a 10-key sonic mural that squiggles about (and emits a note) when touched. The final room, truly unlike any other, is called the “Kaleidoscopic Waterfall,” which pours out images of quilted and candied realism. So many more visual descriptors come to mind for the exuberant exhibition as a whole, which will head to Los Angeles next, but none will ever be enough to explain how it feels to travel through the undulating dreamworld one work at a time.
“I’ve worked with Jen for a few years doing gallery shows and other projects,” Liner says, of how it all began. Liner maintained a gallery in Chelsea for several years, but closed the space in early 2020. “She’s been good at finding her own way in the industry,” he continues. “She developed her market. She’s really great at social media. She’s smart and selective about commercial projects.” In March of this year, they began to conceive Cascade—and the ambitious spectacle to follow is one worth being excited about, whether you’ve been following Stark for years or are just being introduced to her work.
Images courtesy of Cascade