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Others Will Know, by Miriam Bäckström

Thursday, September 7, 2023Thursday, January 25, 2024

Miriam Bäckström (Swedish, born 1967). Others Will Know, 2023. Jacquard tapestry, Trevira CA on Trevira CS warp. 132 3.8 x 15115 3/4 inches (336.23 x 3850 cm). Collection Buffalo AKG Art Museum. With funds provided by the Blum Family in honor of their beloved mother and former Albright-Knox staff member Bette Blum; and General Purchase Funds, 2021. (2021:24). © Miriam Bäckström. Photo: Brenda Bieger, Buffalo AKG Art Museum


Lower Level Lobby
Jeffrey E. Gundlach Building

To create this specially commissioned woven tapestry installation for the lower level lobby of the Buffalo AKG’s Jeffrey E. Gundlach building, Miriam Bäckström (Swedish, born 1967) pushed the limits of photography. With her studio, she uses new technology to develop large-scale image worlds and explores how to create three-dimensional experiences from two-dimensional images, as she has in this work.

Detail view of a highly glossy textured black fabric
Detail of the fabric used to created the 3D image that became the basis of Others Will Know. Courtesy Studio Miriam Bäckström

The enormous artwork Others Will Know is based on a swatch of fabric no more than two inches square. This multilayered fabric, which was designed for bathing suits, attracted Bäckström because of its woven colors and foil layer patterned with concentric circles that evoke the Fresnel lenses used to amplify light in traditional lighthouses. These layered qualities help the artist achieve the desired illusion of depth, transparency, three-dimensionality, and light. First, Bäckström lit and photographed the swatch at high resolution to capture every color and structure of the weaving. Next, she used 3D technology and virtual reality (VR) to project and map the photographs onto a curved, horn-like sculptural shape she created in the 3D program. She stretched and manipulated the images so that they followed and entirely covered this curvilinear form. This photographic sculpture was more than a half-mile long in the scale of her computer program.

Long horizontal image showing striations of red and yellow
Artist Miriam Bäckström's long virtual model for Others Will Know​​​, 2023. Image courtesy Studio Miriam Bäckström
White 3D model of a room in a swirling red, white, and green pattern
Rendering of the museum's lobby space set in the swirling model of ​​​​​​Bäckström's design. Image courtesy Studio Miriam Bäckström 

Bäckström then inserted a rendering of the museum’s comparatively small lobby space into the center of this virtual object and replaced the curved and solid walls of the lobby with continuous window-like openings. In her rendering, these openings allowed panoramic views of the sculpture’s photographic skin. From the virtual lobby, she took 360-degree screenshots, capturing the way her undulating photo sculpture appeared from each window.

These screenshots became the source material from which Others Will Know was woven. Working with skilled textile weavers in Italy and an entire range of dyed threads, the artist oversaw the translation of the screenshots into a dizzying and immersive tapestry that now curves around the walls of the circular lobby space. Every visitor to Others Will Know can decipher for themselves this new world—impossibly dense, magnificently colored, seemingly infinite—that Bäckström has invented.

Others Will Know is a long-term installation. This page marks a year-long celebration highlighting newly commissioned works for the 2023 opening of the Buffalo AKG.


About the Artist

Miriam Bäckström is a Swedish conceptual photographer. Bäckström was born in Stockholm in 1967. Bäckström studied history of art at the University of Stockholm before enrolling at Stockholm's Academy of Photography in 1994. Bäckström first came to notice as a conceptual photographer in the 1990s.



Funds provided by the Blum Family in honor of their beloved mother and former Albright-Knox staff member Bette Blum.