French-Lebanese artist Flavie Audi's interest in glass developed when she was studying architecture in London. She became frustrated by the unimaginative way glass was often used – as a flat, stolid material. 'I was keen to manipulate glass in a sensual way, to give it humanity,' she explains. 'When working in architecture, you always have a client and a brief, so I thought the best way to explore this was to move away from architecture and into art.'
Since switching disciplines, Audi has been dubbed a 'glass artist'; which, despite her love of the material, is limiting. She also produces digital and analogue photography, film and multimedia art, as a new exhibition at Tristan Hoare gallery in London displays. Split into two rooms, 'Cell-(estial)' pinpoints the moment virtual and physical worlds meet, through the interaction between Audi's weighty blown-glass sculptures and her ethereal, airy video installations.
Despite the difference in mediums, the exhibition is united by Audi's dazzling, otherwordly aesthetic. There's an alien quality to each work. It's difficult to know how each piece was made, or what it's even made from. 'Everyone always wants to touch my works,' she says. 'I encourage this.'
'Fluid Rock 19'. © Flavie Audi. Photography: Todd White. Courtesy of Tristan Hoare
You half expect the glass works to be soft and rubbery rather than smooth and glazed. The bubble-like textures are created through a variety of innovative glass-blowing techniques that Audi is keeping close to her chest. Though she does tell us, 'I like to misuse or invent new steps in the glass blowing process. It's like making my own recipes.'
All we know is that these mysterious recipes mix together synthetic elements with organic ones, reflecting glass' changing use from a purely physical, architectural object to an interactive one. Today, glass is something that we hold in our hands and interact with on a daily basis through our phones and devices. It is no longer a one-dimensional material; rather, it is an experiential, virtual one, beautifully captured here by Audi's curiously modern forms.