Whether you see them as architects, sculptors, painters, or installation artists, one thing is clear: Lang/Baumann are here to bend your mind. Their large-scale installations consistently challenge the boundaries between the surreal and the commonplace, and their book, More is More, is a vivid portrayal of their best work.
More is More is a photo collection of installation art by Sabina Lang and Daniel Baumann (who go by Lang/Baumann or L/B). In beautifully detailed photographs, More is More features a number of everyday scenes that have been irreversibly altered by L/B’s fantastical concepts; bright bars of color weave their way along the worn pavement of an old-fashioned village, the underbelly of a simple park bridge is transformed into an abstract scene, twisting white stairs to nowhere climb out of a green lawn in front of wild-looking coastal trees.
The book also features many of their gallery displays. The average artist’s approach to a gallery show is to decorate the walls, but L/B’s approach is to visually reconstruct the entire interior of the building; decorating the walls has been done, they seek to alter the space. Such displays include rooms painted in ways that make the walls seem to warp in odd directions, rooms filled with geometrically intertwined inflatable white tubes on a goliath scale, and half straight, half spiral stairs that seem to hover in the air of their own volition.
But it is not just the art in More is More that makes the book such a fascinating perceptual experience; the photographs and their arrangements on the page are artistic feats of their own. The photos are taken at off angles and each one is juxtaposed against a reflection of itself on the opposite page. The resulting effect is the illusion of one, symmetrical image. In some instances, the effect is downright disconcerting. When viewing the mirror images of Beautiful Wall #3, I turned my head and leaned so far to the left that I nearly toppled over, and still the image seemed to be spinning away from me. I can only imagine what it must have been like to stand in that room.
A further enhancement of the book experience is the collection of artist’s drawings and notes in the back of the book. These drawings allow for a rare insight into the artists’ planning and creative process in the pre-production stages. The notes include details about the actual construction, as well as the reactions of the locals to having the installations in their towns. In Spiral #3, a boxy white structure that temporarily climbed the tracks of a shutdown cliff railway, the residents of the neighborhood were noted to have “embraced the work as a welcome symbol of their efforts to reinstate the funicular.”
The photographic angles and the back-of-the-book insights can only add to the phenomenal experience that is L/B art installations. Between the golden covers of More is More, L/B have compressed goliath-scale structures and psychedelically bright-colored expanses into a one heck of a coffee table conversation starter.
Reviewed by Jaidree Braddix
More is More was published by Gestalten