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Hayward - Light Show: Joy in the Art of Colour

  • An inspirational exhibition which commences with an artwork by Leo Villareal entitled Cylinder II (2012). It is described in the exhibition booklet as featuring ´light and movement, composed, like a musical score....orchestrated in such a way that they create endlessly changing patterns and shapes, evoking meteor showers, fireworks, falling snow, waves of phosphorescence, clouds of swarming fireflies and other natural phenomena´. It takes time, but with a soft focus and an open mind, the layers of flickering lights begin to coalesce. The intensity and speed of movement varies, as does the brilliance of its glow, which seduces the viewer who takes the time to pause and observe. Visual messages are received and collated into a message, a trace memory of a visual event which the brain tries to explain as a physical phenomena.



    Anthony Mc Call´s ´You and I, Horizontal´(2005), is a fantastic light sculpture which has to be seen to be believed. A dark room with a cinema projector, shining bright light through a space with sufficient dust in the air to make the path of the projected light appear permanent. By touching light, the physical joy of the experience bursts out of the young at heart. 

    Some people remained as passive observers exhibiting fear, distrust or hesitation of touching the light. Whilst others crawled under, ventured through and emerged empowered by the new experience. The light embodied issues of boundaries, like the atmosphere of the earth the, the light caught the movement of the atmospheric dust. The swirls of fog were moved through movement and resembled clouds and weather encircling the globe, and transfixed viewers in their brilliance. An actual rather than a virtual experience, with a performance of interaction acted and performed by the viewers.


    When I walked into the exhibit ´Slow Arc inside a Cube IV´(2009), by Conrad Shawcross, I was overwhelmed by a physical feeling of loosing balance. Leaning against the wall, waves of nausea flooded through me and made me determined to control my bodily responses with the strength of my mind. Through the simplicity of the shadows the viewer is tele-transported into the centre of the cage, moving erratically through time and space. The scientific basis for the work is fascinating, as it owes it genesis to the mapping of insulin though crystal radiography, but it is the physical experience which surpasses its conceptual framework.


    My favourite exhibit is ´Chromosaturation (1965-2013)´, by Carlos Cruz-Diez which consists of three rooms each saturated with coloured light. The perfect space to perceive how the brain computes and responds to colour. Take your time! This exhibit holds more promise than one would think at first blink. By taking one room and one colour at a time, you will initially be overwhelmed by the intensity of the colour, but within a few minutes your vision will become so saturated by the single colour that your perception will start to filter it out. At this point move into the next room, focus on the intensity of its colour for a few moments and glance back at the room you just entered from: it will be back to its original intensity of colour! Walk leisurely through the exhibit and notice the point at which a room previously saturated with colour become white. It is an experience which challenges notions of colour as purely objective.


    Last but not least, ´The Weather Project´ by Olafur Eliasson is a must see exhibit. Time is of the essence, and if the physical sensations are overwhelming then a pause with closed eyes helps with the contrast between the darkness and the flashing lights, and to perceive the subtle sound of the flowing and splashing water. The strobe lighting illuminates the fountains of cascading water like diamonds, so that they appear to be stationary, or subtly moving back in time. I could feel my eyes and head throbbing after this exhibit but it is worth it, as a mind opening experience which must not be missed.


    This exhibition will stretch your brain till you behold the true limits of its perception!



    30 January - 28 April 2013

    Hayward Gallery

    Southbank Centre



    Natasha is a Practising Artist researching for a Phd on Contemporary Landscape.





    Photographs taken by Jon Hall