Recent MFA graduate Benjamin Dearstyne Hoste brought his interactive art installation “Tangencies” to Biosphere 2 in late May.
Over the course of one weekend Ben made 100+ tangent chalk circles around the Biosphere 2 grounds — encouraging visitors and researchers alike to find pause, stillness, and presence with one another.
Special thanks to Biosphere 2 for producing and sharing this video.
Ben Hoste on the project
“‘Tangencies’ is an opportunity for us to experience something, for us to feel something or see something, that we know is there that we often just completely overlook. So, it’s an art project that involves going into public spaces and drawing these large arrays of tangent circles with chalk, and then inviting people to come and step into those circles and activate them. And activate them by sharing that space with another person for one minute, one minute of stillness and reflection, just be present with the other person.
“I think that in our world today, we have so many things going on that deserve our attention, but also so many things that are distractions. But it’s so easy to just always be moving forward and to lose sight of what’s right in front of us. And often times that’s the people in our lives that really shape who we are and who we also shape through the things that we do. The work is an opportunity to really reveal the influences that we have on each other and how we shape each other and how we’re all interconnected within the communities that we live. The circles that we’re drawing in public spaces with chalk, these larger circles, both are representations of how we’re connected to each other, but also are an opportunity to take a moment out of our busy day, this flow of distractions, to just be present, to be with another person and to reflect upon your relationship with them, how maybe you shaped each other’s lives, but also just how we all are interconnected and how we all play important roles in who we are and who we hope to be.
“One of the things that I think is really compelling about Biosphere 2 is how it sparks our imagination. Just imagining this thing being built is already a unbelievable undertaking then to imagine people living in it and being self-sufficient is, is an unbelievable undertaking. Just to be in this space, I think opens up our minds to the possibilities of what is possible.”
The mathematical concept of tangency—a perfect and smooth advancement, meeting, and retreat between two curves—provides a point of entry for the work and serves as a metaphor for our deeply shared experiences. Just as tangent circles meld together where they touch, becoming momentarily indistinguishable, so do we when we share intimate and powerful moments.
Tangencies fluidly moves between both shared and private space, utilizing public intervention and installation strategies. Situated in public parks and gathering areas, arrays of tangent circles are drawn with chalk, illustrating our connectedness as well as demarcating personal space. Each circle is slightly larger than six feet in diameter, ensuring that individuals standing within them can be safely distanced from one another. Members of the public are invited to activate the work through occupying tangent circles: distanced if need be or touching if desired. Ephemeral in nature, both the drawings and the momentarily shared experiences they elicit are photographically documented.