Yasuaki Onishi installation, ‘Reverse of Volume RG’, uses plastic sheeting and black hot glue to create a monumental, mountainous form that appears to float inside of Rice University Art Gallery. The installation is on show now until June 13. The process that he calls “casting the invisible,” involves draping the plastic sheeting over stacked cardboard boxes, which are then removed to leave only their impressions. This process of “reversing” sculpture is Onishi’s meditation on the nature of the negative space, or void, left behind.

Onishi wanted to create an installation that would change as visitors approached and viewed it from outside of the glass wall to inside the gallery space. Seen through the glass, the undulating, exterior surface and dense layers of vertical black strands are primarily visible. At first glance, standing in the center of the gallery’s foyer, it appears to be a suspended, glowing mass whose exact depth is difficult to perceive.

Upon entering the gallery and walking along the left or the right side, the installation transforms into an airy opening that can be entered. Almost like stepping into an inner sanctum or cave-like chamber, the semi-translucent plastic sheeting and wispy strands of hot glue envelop the viewer in a fragile, tent-like enclosure speckled with inky black marks. Visitors can walk in and out of the contemplative space, observing how the simplest qualities of light, shape, and line change.