View art and foam during APT8

David Medalla, The Philippines/UK b.1942 / Cloud canyons No.25 1963/2015 / Plexiglass tubing, motor pumps, alloy, water, detergent / Purchased 2014. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

David Medalla is a unique figure in the history of twentieth-century art. His unpredictable and playful approach to art-making has made him difficult to categorise, but he is increasingly recognised as a significant figure in the development of installation, kinetic and participatory art. His practice deliberately avoids the idea of sculpture as solid, timeless and monumental by creating objects and situations that can never be repeated and continually change.

Medalla moved from the Philippines to London in 1960, where he has been largely based ever since, and took part in some influential 1960s and 1970s exhibitions that defined minimal and conceptual practice in the United States and Europe. In 1963, he began to produce what have become important works – the Cloud Canyons, bubble machines constructed from acrylic tubes that propel foam into unscripted shapes. The free association and playfulness central to Medalla’s practice also manifest in impromptu performances, which, like the Cloud Canyons, operate in contrast to the more rigid tenets of abstraction, embedding sculpture in the sensual world and the creative forces latent in everyday life.



Science and its ultimate conclusion is a theme throughout Medalla’s work, incorporating into his Cloud Canyons the techniques that are available through technology.

There is an art to successfully incorporating all the various bubble machine components, from the exact height of the various containers that allow the viewer to see the bubbles as they are created, to the pumps hidden from sight that create a continuous flow of foam from a liquid combination that is turned into an exact consistency to be forced slowly upwards in a river of foamy bubbles that ultimately spill from the top. This construction for the Cloud Canyons series is controlled by the artist, however each unique iteration and installation creates its own art form.

The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT)
is the Gallery’s flagship exhibition focused on the work of Asia, the Pacific and Australia.
21 November 2015 – 10 April 2016

Exhibition Founding Sponsor: Queensland Government
Exhibition Principal Sponsor: Audi Australia