Sara Ludy: Tumbleweeds

May 25–Dec 14, 2022

In Tumbleweeds, Sara Ludy creates a continuously evolving animated map of light points, which corresponds to a performative intervention that she is making in the desert of New Mexico. Over the duration of the project, she is meticulously attaching shards of glass to tumbleweeds, using biodegradable twine that dissolves over time, and releasing them into nature. Short video clips of the light reflected by the glass shards appear in the online map—points of light that leave behind colored trails. As the artist releases more tumbleweeds with glass fragments into the desert, she updates the animated ‘star maps’ on a bi-weekly basis. Using materials that she draws out of the desert landscape—tumbleweeds and glass—Ludy’s project explores connections between nature and the online world, as well as craft practices of tying knots and techniques of visualizing data.

At a time when many people’s online communication and existence has vastly increased due to the pandemic, Tumbleweeds explores the condition of being uprooted and untethered. Ludy highlights the differences between space and time in the physical and online world: she intentionally obscures the scale of the territory represented by the star maps, pointing to the distortions of space that occur in virtual environments. The light points ‘travel’ in time from the browser window at sunrise to the one at sunset, suggesting a state of timelessness by illustrating that the appearance of visuals in a browser window is not bound by conventional time frames or natural cycles. The journey of the online light points is inspired by the physics concept of quantum superposition, the ability of a system—be it particles, waves, or an online map—to be in multiple states at the same time until it is measured. Once the performance comes to an end and no more tumbleweeds are equipped with shards, a final star map collapsing both the sunrise and sunset version of the map will render static the points of light, creating an abstract digital painting and referencing how the glass fragments fall back to the ground in the desert and stay in place.

Sara Ludy (b. 1980) is an American artist and composer working in a wide range of media including digital painting, animation, VR, websites, installation, and sound. Through an interdisciplinary practice, Ludy generates hybrid forms from the confluence of nature and simulation to explore notions of immateriality and being. Ludy’s work has been exhibited at institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Vancouver Art Gallery, Whitney Museum of American Art, Berkeley Art Museum, and Künstlerhaus Bethanien. Her work has been featured in Modern Painters, The New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, and Cultured Magazine. Sara lives and works in Placitas, New Mexico.

Sunrise/Sunset is a series of Internet art projects that mark sunset and sunrise in New York City every day. All are commissioned by the Whitney specifically for, each project unfolding over a timeframgite of ten to thirty seconds.

Using as their habitat, Sunrise/Sunset projects disrupt, replace, or engage with the museum website as an information environment. This form of engagement captures the core of artistic practice on the Internet, the intervention in existing online spaces.

To see the current project, be anywhere on this website during sunrise or sunset.


See more on artport, the Whitney Museum's portal to Internet and new media art.